It’s tick season and time to be aware of the potential contact we may have with deer ticks.
The height of tick season is upon us–and knowledge is power. The more you know about their habitats and ways to prevent bites, the more you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
Ticks prefer shady, densely wooded areas. In our yards, this includes wooded areas around the property and areas with leaf litter–particularly the transitional areas between lawn
unmaintained areas around the perimeter. Keeping your lawn well maintained and mowed will do away with much of the shelter areas for ticks, but they will still lurk near the perimeter if you live against a wooded area. Groundcover vegetation like ivy, pachysandra, and bearberry can also harbor ticks.
What to do?
- Remove leaf piles from under ornamentals in the landscape.
- Create a mulch, wood chip, or a gravel border of at least a few feet between the lawn and the wooded edge and leaf litter filled areas to help keep them further away from the areas you frequent.
- Add fencing to prevent deer from wandering into your property
- Clear rodent habitats such as woodpiles and leaf piles
- Use animal repellents to reduce the spread of ticks into your yard
- DEET is the most effective and longest lasting product to apply to the skin. Always READ THE LABEL of pesticides before using them. Picaridin is another ingredient that works well.
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus is another effective more natural product.
- Botanical products are available though may not last as long and could have mixed results.
- Permethrin is available in products that can be applied to shoes and clothing to repel ticks and mosquitoes. It is NOT for use on the skin. There are also some lines of clothing available that are pretreated with permethrin. This product works very well and lasts through many washings.
Probably the most effective way to significantly reduce tick populations on our properties are targeted yard sprays using an insecticide labeled for tick control. The most effective ingredients to look for are permethrin or bifenthrin. You can hire a specialist to service your property or you can purchase these products on your own. Tip: Use a hose end sprayer to increase the volume needed for effective coverage. Target wooded, leaf litter filled and brushy areas (mentioned above) as well as thick ground cover areas (when they are not in bloom). Natural and organic products are also an option but will likely need more frequent applications to be effective.
Granular products are also available but must be applied to the same areas as the liquid in order to be effective, this may be difficult depending on the product.
Take extra caution: Regardless of whether a product is labeled organic, natural or synthetic, do not treat areas near flower, vegetable, or herb gardens. Do not spray butterfly, pollinator gardens and water features!
Daily Tick Checks
Unfortunately, ticks can be nearly impossible to spot. In the nymph stage, ticks are the size of a pencil dot and can easily be overlooked for a freckle. Finding a tick on a furry pet is even tougher. Give your pet a thorough check daily, especially after being outside in wooded areas. Look between toes, inside ears, between legs (in the “armpits”), and around the neck where
they often burrow in deep fur.
· Treating open sunny areas such as mowed lawns is not necessary.
· Ticks do not jump, fly or drop from the trees. They are typically within a few feet of the ground, waiting to grab onto hosts as they pass by.
· Ticks can be brought into the house by dogs/cats.
· Wear light clothing with long sleeves and pants when out in the woods to better see a tick and prevent attachment to your skin.
· Throw your clothing in the dryer 20 minutes for when you come in for the day. This will kill any ticks hiding in your clothes.
Preventing ticks on your pets
There are a variety of tick repellents for pets, available in both organic and non-organic forms. Some kill ticks on contact, while others kill them once they attach and begin to feed. Talk with your vet about the best choice for your pet.
Jonathan Green Insect control has a natural scent that kills destructive insects quickly, and has strong repellency to keep insects from coming back. Jonathan Green Organic Insect Control will not harm ladybugs, butterflies or earthworms.
First Saturday Lime uses a strong formula derived from eco-friendly products. It has the ability to dry out insects, eggs and larvae by clogging up the spiracles insects use to breathe and eventually dehydrating them.
Yard Sprays: Spray the perimeter of your yard with a hose-end sprayer containing an ingredient that is labeled for killing, repelling and preventing ticks such as permethrin, and bifenthrin. Hose-end sprayers are much easier to apply the product appropriately and thoroughly than a hand-trigger sprayer.
Cedarcide Tickshield is an extra-strength insecticide and repellent made from cedarwood essential oil. Designed for people, pets and indoor use.
Repel products are available with DEET or permethrin. Permethrin spray can be applied to clothing and DEET spray can be applied to skin as well as clothing. Always read labels carefully!
Repellents reduce wild animals in your yard by applying these natural scent-based repellents around the yard perimeter and near areas they may be hiding.
Pro tip: Rotate products weekly for 6 weeks to show those critters you mean business!