Ticks can take some of the fun out of spring and summer outdoor living. Bites from these pests can cause infections and the potential for long-term disease. Here’s how you can keep them away without the risks of commercial pesticides.
The tick test
If your home is near a wooded or heavily shaded area, a creek or a stream, you’re at risk for ticks. Ticks thrive in shady, moist, cool areas and wherever wildlife roams. They can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, among other dangerous diseases. The Centers for Disease Control report that at least one type of disease-transmitting tick has been found in each of the lower 48 states.
You can test your landscape for the presence of ticks by attaching a piece of light-colored cloth to a stick and slowly dragging it around your landscape, particularly in the types of areas just described. If ticks are present, they’ll crawl onto the cloth.
Maintaining your landscape
Almost all blood-sucking bugs love long grasses, so mow your yard regularly to three inches in height. Weed-whack tall grasses as low as possible around your home’s foundation, fences, and other borders. Rake, bag and dispose of fallen leaves.
The natural oils in cedar or cypress mulch repel a number of insects, including ticks, when placed in flower beds and along borders. If part of your property adjoins a woodland area, spread this type of mulch along that boundary. Use mulch chips, not the shredded kind.
Pyrethrum is a natural pesticide produced by pyrethrum daisies. You can find it in spray form in the natural pest control section of plant nurseries. Don’t spray the entire yard, only the cool, shady, damp areas where ticks thrive. You can also grow the daisies around these same areas, harvest some of the blooms, grind them up and sprinkle them where ticks congregate.
Keep ticks off of you
When walking in the woods or other tick-prone areas, tuck your pant legs into your socks to keep bugs on the outside of your clothing where you can see them and brush them off. You can also mist your clothes, skin, and pets with this all-natural insect repellent made from water, garlic, lemon, and crushed neem leaves.