Effective Tick Control: How to Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard
There are over 800 species of ticks found worldwide. Here’s how to get rid of them in your yard using proven, organic and natural techniques.
Tick control and prevention for your yard is more important than ever as the tick population continues to grow throughout the US.
As ticks sweep across the United States, they carry with them serious infections such as Lyme disease, which may be transferred readily between humans and pets.
Even though ticks are most typically associated with forests and tall grass, they may thrive in any yard that has a mix of these elements, such as lawn, shrubs, or fallen leaves.
These factors make backyard tick control more crucial than ever.. Here’s how to get rid of them in your yard using proven, effective techniques.
What are Ticks?
A blood-feeding external parasite of mammals, birds, and reptiles, ticks are important vectors of disease-causing agents.
They attach firmly to their host, feed slowly, and may go unnoticed for several days while feeding.
As a result, ticks transmit the widest variety of pathogens of any blood-sucking arthropod. Some human diseases of interest include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
How to Identify Ticks?
Adults (1/4 inch long) have eight legs and are reddish-brown with white or yellow irregular markings on their bodies.
Females are slightly larger than males and can grow as large as 1/2 inch long after a blood meal.
To feed, they grab onto a host, secrete an anesthetic, and painlessly burrow into the skin with their mouth parts. Bites can cause skin irritations or even allergic reactions in some people.
Ticks are divided into two groups: hard and soft. Hard ticks have a shield on their backs and are tapered at the head end; they are the most easily recognized by people.
Soft ticks lack the shield-like plate, have a blunt head end, and look like pieces of bark or debris. Both groups are important vectors of disease.
Life Cycle of a Tick
The widely distributed American dog tick overwinters in all stages, except as eggs. Adults are prevalent in the spring, and after obtaining a blood meal and mating, females deposit up to 4,000 eggs in large masses on the ground.
Hatching occurs in 30 or more days, and the 6-legged larval stage crawls onto surrounding vegetation where it clings to any passing animals that rub against it.
After a 3-12 day feeding period, larvae drop off and molt into 8-legged nymphs. After feeding on yet another host, nymphs again drop off and molt into young adults. The cycle may be completed during a period of a few weeks to a year or more.
How Do I Tell if My Yard Has Ticks?
A common misconception is that if there are deer in your yard, you must also have ticks. However, until you test for them, you can’t tell if there are ticks present in your yard.
Here are three easy ways you can do it:
The first method involves personally inspecting your yard with a flashlight for ticks.
You can look along brick, stone, or retaining walls, in patches of dense or tall brush or grass, in firewood and leaf piles in the yard, in trees or shrubs used for landscaping, or in spots where leaf or other organic material has accumulated.
Make sure to also check in dog houses or outdoor kennels where your pets frequent for signs of ticks.
Check Your Pets
Checking your dogs once they enter the house is another technique to find ticks in your yard. If you discover ticks on your outdoor dogs, there is a high chance that they picked them up in your yard.
The CDC advises to run your fingers through your pet’s fur with gentle pressure to feel for any small bumps.
Try the Tick Drag Test
You can do a simple test called a tick drag to see if there are ticks in your yard.
Attach a piece of fabric that is around 6 by 6 inches in size to a long pole. Drag the cloth through your yard’s thick grass and overgrown plants, paying special attention to the edges of overgrown plants. Make sure you’re doing this while wearing long pants and tall socks for protection.
In case of a tick infestation, a few ticks will probably attach themselves to the cloth in hopes of finding some food.
Once you’re done dragging the sheet, take it to an area without grass, such as a driveway, and carefully check it for ticks. Seal the fabric in a Ziploc bag before disposing in case you find any.
Why Tick Control is Important for Your Yard
Ticks are capable of carrying the pathogens that cause ten different human diseases and are responsible for the transmission of illnesses such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.
These serious health issues highlight the need of avoiding tick bites and maintaining tick control.
Tickborne diseases can cause symptoms such as fever, headaches, chills, and muscle aches.
Because they securely adhere when sucking blood, eat slowly, and can go unnoticed for a long period while feeding, ticks are among the most effective disease carriers.
Tick prevention is important for both pet owners and parents because a tick bite can be dangerous for children and pets. Pets are susceptible to five of the ten illnesses that ticks may spread to people.
What Does a Tick Bite Look Like?
A tick bite may feel hot to the touch and can seem red and swollen. A telling sign of a tick bite is a red, circular, or oval rash that expands over time like a bulls-eye.
Ticks often bite once rather than in clusters or lines. Most harmless tick bites don’t result in any outward symptoms or indicators.
Others result in a bump that is red or discolored and resembles a mosquito bite.
Between 3 and 30 days after being bitten, you may develop a bullseye rash typical of Lyme disease. More than one rash could appear. Over the course of many days, the rash can expand and measure 12 inches in breadth.
What Should You Do If Your Yard Has Tick Infestation?
If you suspect a tick infestation in your yard, it’s important to take some safety precautions. When working in the yard, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and closed-toe shoes.
Wear light-colored clothing. Ticks are easier to see on a light background. We recommend using natural tick repellents such as cedar oil spray to protect yourself.
Frequent inspection and quick removal of ticks reduces the chance of infection by Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and more. In addition, the risk of getting a tick-borne disease is related to the length of time it spends feeding.
Whenever possible, stay out of pest-infested areas, grassy pastures, prairies, and wooded areas. Restrict movement of your pets as well.
How to Do Effective Tick Control in Your Yard
Whether you have a tick infestation or you live in an area with a large tick population, it’s important to make sure you carry out effective tick control in your yard. Here’s how to do it:
Keep Your Yard Tidy
Keep grass and weeds trimmed and remove wood piles to reduce harborage for tick hosts. Remove leaf litter and brush from your yard.
Avoid leaving mounds of leaves lying about if you rake them in the fall. Instead, place them in leaf bags and properly dispose of them.
Keep your firewood properly piled in a dry area if you use it for heat. This keeps rodents out of your yard and stops them from bringing ticks in.
Last but not least, clear up your yard of any old furniture, rubbish, or organic debris that can provide a hiding spot for ticks.
Get Rid of Other Pests
Rodents including squirrels, rats, mice, and raccoons can bring pests into your yard. These underlying infestations must also be treated if ticks are to be eradicated from your yard.
Build Fences Around Your Yard
Building a fence around your yard is also a good idea as it will discourage animals such as deer, raccoons, and stay dogs from entering your yard and bringing these ticks with them.
Create a Barrier
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station recommends placing a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
Plant Tick-Repellent Plants
Some plants in your yard can keep ticks away. Some of the most effective tick-repelling plants are sage, mint, garlic, lavender, rosemary, and marigold.
Plant these varieties along landscaping borders, surrounding patios, pet runs, decks, and other areas where you want to deter ticks and keep them away from your yard.
Use the Right Insecticides
Broadcast EcoSMART® Insect Killer Granules around foundations, lawns, and landscapes to eliminate or repel all kinds of problem pests.
If pest populations become intolerable, spot treat problem areas with a fast-acting botanical insecticide such as Safer® Mosquito & Tick Killer. This natural spray persists for about two weeks and has less toxicity than commercial chemical pesticides.
Take Care of Your Pets
Spray pet bedding and kennels with plant-based formulas specifically designed to keep these unhealthy nuisances at bay. Since they contain no harmful residues, they are safe to use around homes, children, and pets.
Use Diatomaceous Earth
Apply food-grade Diatomaceous Earth for long-lasting protection. Made up of tiny fossilized aquatic organisms, DE kills by scoring an insect’s outer layer as it crawls over the fine powder. Contains NO toxic poisons!
Use Neem Oil
Broad-spectrum, organic neem oil disrupts the growth and development of pest insects and has repellent and anti-feedant properties. Best of all, it is non-toxic to honey bees and many other beneficial insects.
How to Remove Ticks
If you have a tick on your clothes or skin and want to remove it, you can use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal spoon, or rubber gloves. Here’s what you’ll need to do to remove ticks safely:
- Using tweezers or rubber gloves (avoid touching with bare hands), grasp the tick close to the skin, and with steady pressure, pull straight out.
- Do not twist or jerk, as mouthparts may be left in the skin. Take care not to crush or puncture the pest during removal — fluids can be infectious.
- After removal, thoroughly disinfect the feeding site and wash hands with soap and water.
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