Do-It-Yourself Tick Yard Treatment and Tick Bite Prevention
If you spend any amount of time outside, there’s a chance you could be bitten by a wood tick. And as the leaves begin to really fall this weekend – there are lots of opportunities to be in the wrong place.
This is especially likely if deer, birds or rodents frequent your area, or if there are shrubs, dense undergrowth or tall grass on your property or in the area where you’re hiking or vacationing or performing leaf removal.
While most tick bites don’t case any significant health problems, some ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, Colorado tick fever, and babesiosis, as well as tick paralysis.
On top of all of that, having a bloodsucking bug latch onto you is just plain gross.
In this article, we’ll explain how to identify ticks, keep them off your yard, protect yourself when you visit or live in an area where ticks live, and rid your yard of the pests if they’ve taken up residence.
How to identify ticks:
Ticks are eight-legged crawlers with flattened bodies and no wings. Many ticks are shaped roughly like teardrops or apple seeds, with a broad back end and a narrow front, though a few are equally broad at the front and back.
If they’ve been attached long enough to have a large meal, they grow rounded and engorged, and some species’ markings will become less noticeable.
Ticks’ heads are tiny compared to the rest of their bodies, but they have long, protruding mouthparts that can be as long as or longer than the head itself.
Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the main transmitters of Lyme disease, so it’s especially important to be able to identify them.
When not engorged, adult female deer ticks are around three to five millimeters long and are bright red with a patch of brown on the forward end of their back. Adult males are slightly smaller and are dark reddish brown all over.
They’re smaller than wood ticks, which are also called American dog ticks, and lack the wood ticks’ distinctive white markings.
Tick yard treatment strategies to prevent tick infestations:
One of the best ways to prevent ticks from infesting your yard is to keep them from being carried there in the first place.
Using deer repellents and deer fencing can help to deter tick-bearing deer from entering your yard, and planting only deer-resistant plants makes your property less appealing to them.
Removing clutter that can attract rodents will help to prevent infestations by both the rodents themselves and the ticks they can carry.
Birds can also carry Lyme-bearing ticks, so you may have to choose between your birdfeeder and keeping your tick population down.
Other methods for making your yard less tick-friendly include removing shrubs and other tall plants that stand close to pathways, so you won’t rub against them and collect ticks in the process, and getting rid of dense undercover or piles of vegetation that can hold moisture and shelter ticks.
Ticks don’t fare well in dry, tidy yards, so by avoiding tall plants and wetness-holding clutter, you remove much of their natural habitat.
How to avoid tick bites and diseases when you’re in tick territory:
Not every place you visit can be tick-proofed, and you might decide that your love of nature is worth the risk of getting bitten and infected.
Here are a few ways to reduce your odds of getting bitten, and to avoid getting sick if a tick does latch on:
- Wear tick-repellent clothing, and tuck the bottoms of your pant legs into your shoes to keep the bugs from crawling inside your pants.
- Spray yourself with tick repellents.
- As soon as your outing is over, before you enter your home or vehicle, check yourself for ticks. Ticks often don’t start to feed for 24 hours after they latch on, because they need to prepare their bodies for the huge meal. Catch the ticks early, and you probably won’t catch the disease. You might need help with your inspection, as it can be hard to thoroughly check your back and head unassisted.
- Check your kids and pets when they come inside.
Tick yard treatment strategies to remove tick infestations:
If you can’t modify your yard enough to prevent tick infestations, and you don’t want to have to bundle yourself and your kids up every time you go outside to enjoy a hot summer day, you might need to resort to using pesticides to kill your yard’s tick population.
Before engaging in chemical warfare with your eight-legged invaders, make sure that you know and are compliant with the pesticide laws in your area, so you don’t end up with bigger problems than bloodsucking bugs.
There are pesticides that are designed specifically to kill ticks, known as acaricides, but they aren’t necessarily your best option.
While some supposedly ‘organic’ tick control options exist, few of them are effective against ticks, and even they have some environmental impact, since their lower effectiveness may necessitate multiple applications. They can also be more expensive than many synthetic pesticides.
Chemical methods can be effective, but they have their own hazards. They can kill animals besides ticks, such as helpful spiders that feed on pests like mosquitoes, and deprive birds that feed on ticks and spiders of one of their food sources.
Broad-spectrum pesticides also carry the risk of killing beneficial insects, like ladybugs, honeybees, and mantises, and you must consider your own health when handling toxic chemicals.
When you buy compounds you need to mix or pour into the sprayer yourself, make sure to wear breathing masks so you don’t inhale the fumes, and avoid getting it on your skin. If you do come into contact with toxic chemicals, wash them off immediately.
Bear in mind that, while manufacturers like to downplay the hazards of their products, some pesticides that were once considered safe have later been determined to be toxic, such as DDT. It’s better to take unnecessary precautions than to get an unnecessary illness.
All in all, while do-it-yourself tick yard treatment is possible, it can also be more dangerous than it’s worth – to you, and to your property’s other beneficial inhabitants.
Want to get your tick yard treatment safely handled by an expert?
If you want to rid your yard of ticks without exposing yourself, your children or your local beneficial fauna to dangerous chemicals, we’re here to help.
We have the equipment to safely and effectively remove your tick problem, and we know all the rules and regulations related to pesticide application in residential areas.
If you want to enjoy a tick-free yard, this year and in years to come, visit this page to get a free inspection and quote from our pest control experts today!