Facebook post of sack of eggs creates concern for Stephenville trail users

Published on June 13, 2017

A biologist at MUN and the former provincial veterinarian doesn’t believe this clump of eggs photographed by a Stephenville woman at Ned’s Pond to be tick eggs.

©Facebook photo

While concerns have been raised about a photo that appeared on Facebook of a sack of eggs at Ned’s Pond in Stephenville, a MUN biologist don’t believe that it’s the eggs of ticks.

Dr. Tom Chapman, a microbiology, evolutionary biology and entomology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, said from looking at the photo, the eggs are unlikely to be from ticks.

He said this is because each egg appears (using the blade of grass on the same focal plane as the eggs) to be about the size of an adult tick (one that is not filled with a victim's blood).

Former Provincial Veterinarian Hugh Whitney said from looking at the photo, if he had to guess between frog eggs and tick eggs, he would certainly guess frog eggs. He said it could be something else but wouldn’t think tick eggs.

The photo was taken by a Stephenville woman last week and started making its rounds on Facebook with the person who posted it saying that it was verified by a local veterinarian that it was tick eggs about to hatch.

A representative of West Coast Veterinary Services said on behalf of the veterinarians at the clinic that a picture was brought in and while in looked significantly like a nest of tick eggs but couldn’t positively be identified as such without actually having a sample.

Mayor Tom O’Brien said personnel with the town, including him, went to search for the egg sack but couldn’t find it even with the help of a family member who was on the walk when the photo was taken.

Some posters on Facebook, including Paul Grenier of the Walk-a-Ways Parks and Trails group, suggested rather than a sack of tick eggs that the clump was likely a sack of frog eggs. He said that’s more consistent with what looks to be the size on the photo.

He said he has seen frog egg sacks before and even comparing it to online photos it looks very similar.

O’Brien said the location that was pointed out where the sack of eggs was found had been underwater a couple of weeks before and this would be consistent with where an amphibian would lay its eggs.

Grenier said it’s a little concerning as he’s already heard some people saying they wouldn’t be using the trail for fear of ticks.

O’Brien said he would encourage people to provide information to the town right away any time they see something and the town will have staff investigate immediately.

He said by the time they got this information it was four or five days since the photo was taken and the egg sack was gone, probably by some predator.

O’Brien said it’s concerning because Ned’s Pond is a well-used walking trail and if there are problems the town would like to address them.

As for ticks, to date during the last number of years West Coast Veterinary Services has removed 10 of them from pets.