Solutions For Deer Ticks

Issues In Usin Any Insecticide For Deer Ticks

Any insecticide labeled to kill deer ticks will kill any other insect in the area that is sprayed; good guys and bad guys. We recommend using insecticides only as a last resort and only in very limited areas. Do not apply them broadly over the landscape. Use them only in areas known to harbor deer ticks. That does not include the lawn. Use them along paths into nearby woods or fields, and along fences or walls, and any site commonly used by passing deer or normally inhabited by white-footed mice. While deer ticks might be inhabiting a vegetable garden or a flower garden, we do not recommend using any broad spectrum insecticide in those areas because you will decimate any positive ecosystem you have to control other pest insects in the gardens. You need to understand that if you use any broad-spectrum insecticide, be it natural or synthetic, you will kill all beneficial insects in the treated area and they will not return for 60 to 80 days.

We feel strongly that instead of blowing away everything with broad spectrum insecticide, the best and most effective strategy is to determine if there are any ticks in the area (earlier in this file), and if there are dress properly and use repellents (described earlier in this file).

Here are some additional steps you may wish to consider.

Steps To Consider

Clean Up Tick Habitat In The Yard
Ticks tend to congregate on medium-height vegetation along paths and roadsides to gain access to hosts. If these areas are kept mowed below ankle height, ticks do not have an adequate vantage point for attachment, and there will be fewer opportunities for them to latch onto passing humans, dogs, deer, and other hosts. Mowing also reduces the vegetative cover needed by the wild rodents upon which young ticks feed. We recommend maintaining a mowed strip 4 ft. to 6 ft. wide along the sides of pathways.

Repel Small Animals
Besides mowing, if you live in a high tick territory you can make your yard less hospitable to small animals such as white mice, raccoons and skunks by removing any trash and piles of rocks, firewood, or brush, securing garbage cans with tight-fitting lids, and moving bird feeders away from the house to discourage birds.

Why discourage birds when they add so much to our landscape ecosystem? For all their good points, wild birds are unfortunately natural hosts to a wide range of lice, ticks, and mites. About 50 species of birds serve as hosts for the ticks that harbor the Lyme disease organism, and these ticks can easily drop off into your shrubbery and plantings. However, this is a consideration only if you have determined you live in a high risk lyme disease area. Even then, we feel that the birds add enough benefit to overcome taking any steps to discourage them. We have identified many other strategies that will effectively protect you from lyme disease, without discouraging birds.

Discourage Deer
In many urban areas, white-tailed deer cause damage in yards and gardens by browsing valuable plantings. In tick-infested areas they carry an additional threat as a carrier of deer ticks. There are several approaches you can take to discourage deer which are discussed in considerable detail in the file Controlling Deer.

Control Ticks On Mice

There is a product called Damminix®, designed to kill ticks living on white mice (an important host) before the ticks can migrate to people. It consists of small biodegradable cardboard tubes containing soft cotton balls impregnated with permethrin. When placed where mice can get at them, the treated cotton balls are picked up by the mice and used as nest materials. The permethrin then kills any ticks on the mice, but is harmless to the mice themselves. This concept is certainly attractive in that it is environmentally very specific and safe. Tests on Long Island, NY have shown that Damminix® will reduce the number of infected deer ticks by more than 90% year after year. For more information about this product go to Products To Control Deer Ticks On Mice

see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy