How can I deal with ticks in my own backyard?
By Roger Kelley
One of the true pleasures of summer is digging your toes into a healthy green lawn. But every year it seems like we hear more about Lyme disease and its debilitating effects. We’re not medical experts at Jeff’s Outdoor, but we do know that Lyme is spread by ticks, which are common in the Caledonia area.
At Jeff’s Outdoor, we’ve been asking the same questions that you have. So, I want to share some of the answers we’ve found and give you some ideas for how you can fully enjoy your outdoor space without worrying about ticks.
What kind of places do you catch ticks?
You’re at the greatest risk in wooded areas and brush areas that border lawns and yards. Ticks seek out valued “questing” locations that allow them to sit atop a grass blade for the idea height to latch onto a passing mammal host. Grass height over 4 inches roughly 10 cm) is an ideal tick habitat.
What are the worst times of year for ticks?
Ticks become active at 4 degrees Celsius (local Veterinarian clinics reported tick activity during the sudden warm up we had in late February 2018). But the worst time of year is the peak summer, with buildup starting in May and peaking in July. By August, ticks will move back down near the soil profile to keep cool from intense heat. Then they return to their questing behaviour when it becomes cool. Your yard can be treated for ticks any time you feel you may be dealing with an infestation. Treating ticks in the spring (May to June) is ideal as it targets the younger ticks (nymphs). A fall treatment is also a great way to knock back the populations for the coming season. Though there is debate about the best time for treatment our preferred approach is to treat them during their molt stage of development.
What should people do to avoid ticks on themselves and pets?
- Always wear long sleeve shirts and pants that are tucked into boots when heading into brush areas, wooded areas and long-grassed areas. Studies show that ticks are attracted to darker colors, especially black.
- Use an insect repellent or bug spray, containing DEET or Icaridin (also known as Picaridin) on clothes and exposed skin. A DEET spray will repel ticks, however, it is not 100 percent effective. It is important to know that treating your family with popular DEET sprays does not mean you are fully protected from the disease-carrying tick. Before using any product, remember to read the label for directions on how to use it.
- Keep your property in good order by maintaining your lawn at a low height. Create buffer zones around the yard by clearing out brush and debris at least 8 feet from tree lines and fields that have tall grass borders.
- Be observant of your yard staging. Keep tables, fire pits and hammocks away from treed areas, brush areas and tall grasses the edge fields and meadows.
- Try to keep your pets safe by keeping them away from these wooded areas and occasionally “sweep” your pets for ticks. Sweeping is separating the fur of your pet and running your palm through deep fur spots of your pet carefully focusing on the collar regions where ticks like to embed themselves.
What can people do if they find a tick on themselves or a pet?
You’ll find no end of remedies on the internet for removing ticks. It’s important to know the safest way. The Health Canada guidelines offer the following method:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. (Do not use your fingers.)
- Pull the tick straight out, gently but firmly making sure to remove the entire tick (including the head). Don't squeeze it – avoid crushing the tick’s body.
- If you think that the tick has been embedded for longer than 36 hours and you have concerns that it might be a disease-carrying tick, after removal place it in a secure container, such as a screw-top bottle used for medication. Bring the tick to your health care professional or local health unit.
- Thoroughly clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water. Do not burn the tick or paint the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline) to detach it from your skin. This could cause Lyme bacteria to pass through your skin and into your bloodstream.
What dangers do ticks pose?
The Blacklegged or Deer tick is a carrier of Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis).
People with Lyme disease often see symptoms within one to two weeks. But symptoms can appear as early as three to thirty days after a bite from an infected blacklegged tick.
Click here to learn more about Lyme disease and tick safety.
Is there a safe treatment for ridding my property of ticks?
At Jeff’s, we consider the safety of your family (and the safety of your pet family) as paramount. All our products are PMRA-approved (Pest Management Regulatory Agency) and our licensed technicians will only use products they feel safe using.
Through diligent research, our company developed those same safe practices used by Organic farmers to manage and control pests using a naturally occurring compound found in the perennial daisy Dalmatian Chrysanthemum. By extraction, the compound Pyrethrum is derived and combined with a safe carrier that delivers the product to the insect pest.
Since Pyrethrum is directly extracted from a plant, and since it is considered non-toxic to humans, we've adopted this treatment for tick control. An added benefit to this treatment is that it also controls mosquitoes in the immediate target area.
Domestic products are also available in stores. They typically contain Pyrethrum in various forms and can be used for indoor and outdoor applications. The difference between using these products and having a licensed technician apply the treatment is a successful delivery approach to ensure a “knock down” application over a large coverage area.
Roger, our lawn care specialist, is a professional turf manager and one of the newest additions to the Jeff’s Outdoor team. As a licensed lawn care professional, Roger has made it his life’s passion to understand the science behind turf grass and soil dynamics.
Did you know?
Jeff’s Outdoor now provides tick treatment in our yard maintenance plans.
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