Ticks are a common pest found in most parts of the country. The most common types of ticks found on pets and around homes are the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, and the deer tick. As their names suggest, each of these tick types has a preferred primary host (e.g., deer ticks are primarily target deer populations); however, all of these ticks are opportunists and will attack humans and other animals.
Ticks are major carriers of certain types of diseases. The deer tick spreads Lyme disease. The American dog tick is a carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In addition to these diseases, tick bites can also lead to localized infections, which can in turn lead to systemic infections. In order to protect yourself, your family, and your pets, you should take certain steps to keep your environment free of these pests.
Ticks in Your Yard
One of the best ways to prevent ticks form invading your house is to prevent them from invading your yard. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to control the vegetation in the yard. This means keeping the grass cut and trimming back hedges. This will give ticks fewer places to hide and nest. It will also reduce opportunities for them to have contact with you and your pets.
If ticks have already invaded your yard, there are several ways to rid yourself of these harmful pests. You can treat tick infestations both organically and chemically.
Organic treatments to kill ticks include the use of diatomaceous earth or sulfur. Diatomaceous earth (DE) consists of the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae. In essence, when insects are exposed to DE, it dehydrates and kills them. You can buy DE at many local home and garden stores, hardware stores, and nurseries. To apply DE, just dust it lightly over your lawn. You will want to wear a dust mask when applying DE, as it is very fine and can be irritating if inhaled. You can also lightly dust your pets and their bedding to control ticks.
Sulfur is available in either flake or powder form. You can generally find sulfur at your local farm and ranch supply store or home and garden center. You can apply sulfur to your yard much as you would fertilizer, using wither a hand-held or push-type spreader. If you can find it, flake sulfur tends to have more “staying power,” as it is less likely than the powder form to be washed away by rain. While sulfur does not appear to kill ticks, it will certainly drive them away from your yard.
There are several approved insecticides that will kill ticks in your yard. When considering a pesticide, be sure it is one that is labeled for outdoor use. Products containing the following insecticides are effective against ticks and generally can be used outdoors: permethrin, carbaryl, cyfluthrin, tetrachlorvinphos, eugenol, and esfenvalerate. Follow the label directions for application on lawns and landscape plantings.