How To Get Rid Of Ticks In The Yard
Miranda Crace5 minute read
UPDATED: May 25, 2023
Hosting outdoor barbecues and parties is a great way to spend time with relatives and friends, but when you have uninvited guests like ticks, your health could be at risk. Prevent them from taking over your lawn this summer by preparing your yard for tick season.
Why Should You Use Tick Control Methods?
Ticks themselves aren’t inherently harmful to you, but the bacteria they carry and spread could be. According to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Tick Management Handbook, the blacklegged tick, also nicknamed the deer tick, is most known for transmitting illnesses like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis and anaplasmosis – but there are several other tick varieties like the dog tick and the lone star tick that can also spread these infections.
Reducing and controlling the local tick population can prevent the likelihood of receiving a tick bite, and therefore reduce your chances of catching a tick-borne disease. By taking the time to protect against and kill ticks in your yard, you can ensure a healthier and safer outdoor environment for your family.
How To Prevent Ticks In Your Yard
If you haven’t seen any ticks in your yard yet, now’s the perfect opportunity to go ahead and use some proactive practices for preventing an infestation.
Keep The Grass Short
Bloodsucking pests like ticks love hiding in cool, damp places like your lawn, and using the long grass blades to jump onto passing animals and humans. You can take away the ticks’ easy food source by removing their access and cutting your lawn’s tall grass and weeds.
Once the grass length reaches approximately 4 – 4.5 inches, you should cut it down to about 3 inches high. This mowing method will keep the grass looking healthy while preventing ticks from taking up residence. You may need to trim around fence lines and walls to tidy the areas your lawnmower can’t reach.
Remove Yard Debris
Don’t panic if you experience a rainy day or two and your grass grows faster than expected. Simply use a bag attachment while you mow, or rake your clippings and remove them afterwards. You can always compost the remnants and use it again as fertilizer. Just don’t leave it behind, as dead grass can increase moisture which in turn attracts ticks.
Other than grass clippings, leftover leaf litter and even children’s toys can provide additional areas for ticks to hide in. If you have anything in your yard collecting moisture or providing shade, you may want to move it off the lawn.
Create A Mulch Barrier
Wooded areas are another place where ticks love to live. Groups of trees create shade and hold moisture, both of which ticks need to survive. If your yard is adjacent to a thicket or has a lot of shrubs and bushes, you should consider laying down a mulch border. Large bark pieces and wood chips can reduce moisture and create a physical barrier that ticks won’t cross.
Any playground equipment and trees or bushes in your yard should have a 3-foot border circling them. This width will help keep any ticks from moving into your lawn or living in nearby hedges or landscaped areas.
Having too much water in your yard is more than just a lawn care problem. It also creates moist areas that ticks will find attractive. If standing water in your yard is a common occurrence, you may need to make some changes to improve drainage.
Most importantly, if you have sprinklers on your lawn, you should reduce usage so that grass can absorb all the water without creating puddles. If you still notice wet areas throughout the summer, you may need some additional drainage solutions. Extended downspouts, rain gardens or dry wells can all help to divert water away from your home, making for a drier, less tick-friendly yard.
How To Get Rid Of Ticks In Your Yard
Not sure if you have ticks in your yard already? You can always conduct a tick drag test by pulling a small piece of fabric across the lawn. The moving cloth will attract any ticks present, and they will hop onto the fabric.
If you find ticks on the test fabric or have come across them on yourself or your children and pets, then it means you need to do more than preventive maintenance. Getting rid of ticks already in your yard is harder than discouraging them from showing up, but it’s still possible with some specifically targeted treatments.
Put Out Tick Tubes
Many types of ticks rely on other food sources besides humans. Small animals like chipmunks, mice and rats are notorious for carrying ticks. So in order to kill the ticks living in your yard, you can treat the nearby rodents with a tick tube.
Tick tubes are cardboard cylinders filled with lint or cotton balls soaked in permethrin. You can buy them pre-made or make them yourself. Any rodents living near the tube will collect and carry the cotton or lint pieces back to their nests. The chemical will then rub off onto their fur and kill any attached pests without harming the animal. While this may seem like a small-scale remedy, studies by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station found that these cardboard tubes can help reduce a troublesome tick population when used over a span of years.
Discourage The Wildlife
Another primary food source for ticks is deer, which explains why the blacklegged tick is also commonly called the deer tick. To physically repel ticks from your lawn, you’ll have to keep the wildlife out of your yard.
Deer commonly graze on ornamental grasses, summer flowers and shrubs. Some of their favorites include hostas, daylilies, English ivy, juniper and holly. If you notice that deer are munching on any of your plants, you should think about swapping them out for less appetizing ones, like daffodils, foxgloves, irises or lavender.
Treat Your Pets
Besides wild critters, ticks will also hop onto your pets, so if you haven’t already treated them with a tick and flea drop or collar, you should consider doing so. Over-the-counter topical treatments can protect your pets from ticks for up to 30 days, while collars can be effective for 8 months.
You may want to take some additional time to groom your pets and check for ticks that are already attached. If they have any pests stuck to them, you can manually remove them with a pair of tweezers, but don’t throw the ticks away. Instead, store them in a container of rubbing alcohol for a few weeks. That way, if your pets show any sign of not feeling well after the ticks are removed, you can have a veterinarian test the ticks for diseases.
Spray Problem Areas
While spraying your entire yard with an insecticide is not a generally recommended pest control method, there are ways you can use a spray tick repellent to target them. The most common chemical to kill ticks is permethrin, the same chemical found in tick tubes. You can also use a tick spray that contains pyriproxyfen. This active ingredient targets larvae or young nymphs, and keeps them from developing into adult ticks.
When you spray the pesticide, be sure to only target the areas where ticks prefer to live, such as under bushes, around trees, by wood piles and along fence lines. All of these places are hot spots for tick activity, and by focusing on these areas, you can prevent the overkilling of beneficial insects like pollinators. Depending on the size of your property, you may need to spray several times throughout the warmer months.
The Bottom Line
Preventing and removing ticks from your yard can be time-consuming and even labor-intensive. Still, it’s a worthwhile effort to protect yourself and your family from tick-borne diseases and infections.
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