Disclosure: I am not a doctor. I am not a pest control specialist. Please consult with the necessary professionals for more information on any of these topics. My goal is to give you an overall look at tick bite prevention and treatment using research from May 2017… new research and information is always coming out so please keep this in mind.
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I’ve focused a lot on prevention, and preferably natural prevention, to prevent ticks. I don’t love chemicals and we used a lot of insect repellent only semi successfully as kids so I don’t like to rely on it as a sole method of prevention.
Our home backs to some woods with lots of deer and not so many predators. We have seen mice as well. When we moved in, we were finding massive amounts of ticks on our dogs and son. Not cool.
I didn’t want ticks in my yard or house. Let me explain some of the steps that we took to prevent them. It’s not 100%, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.
How to Prevent Ticks with Landscaping
We try to also keep the lawn mowed so there isn’t long grass brushing up against bare legs during the summer. This is a pretty big deal.
Domesticated Animals that Spread Ticks
Obviously I recommend landscaping to prevent ticks first. If you do that, you’ll decrease the likelihood of having ticks on your pets to begin with. Then you can simply make sure to do extra careful checks when you take them for walks in a field or the woods.
Wild Animals that Spread Ticks
Ticks like to live on squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and deer… among other animals. Keeping those animals out of your yard can help prevent ticks from transferring to your pets, your yard, or your kids.
That’s obviously easier said than done, but ideally you want to make sure that you don’t have a delicious food source and housing for mice. Mice really like our shed area, for example, and trying to close up any food (pet food, bird food, etc) that is stored in those areas can help prevent them from deciding it’s their perfect home.
The mice seem to have disappeared in the past year though. I’m not sure if it’s because my dog loves to eat them or if the ducks ate them.
I’ve heard great things about tick tubes. They have permethrin soaked materials inside them that mice love for nesting. The mice drag the materials to their nests and the permethrin kills whatever ticks the mice are carrying. You can make your own DIY Tick Tubes or you can buy tick tubes on Amazon.
|One brand of Tick Tube that can be purchased on Amazon|
Permethrin has some risks to it so you need to be careful when using it… it shouldn’t come in contact with any water sources, and it’s dangerous (wet) to cats, bees, fish, tadpoles, pollinating flowers, and other beneficial insects. You also don’t want to apply it to your skin.
Animals that Prevent Ticks
We decided to get ducks as part of our overall plan to naturally prevent ticks. We have Muscovy ducks which love to forage- they can eat ticks, mosquitoes, mosquito larvae, mice, snakes, and more. Obviously this isn’t 100% effective, but they also produce eggs (and meat if you can stomach processing your pets) and are kinda fun to have for outdoor pets so they work well for us.
Guinea fowl are, however, the best bird for the job if you have a larger property. They will wander everywhere to eat alllllll the ticks. Unfortunately, they also are noisy and will wander everywhere to eat allllll of the ticks. In a suburban area, this doesn’t work well, but if you’re on a huge property then they’re a great option for tick control.
Did I mention they’re noisy? I was watching a video of the noise they make recently and I’m so glad we didn’t get those. I would most likely have guinea fowl for dinner.
Chickens will also eat ticks and many areas have more flexible rules about allowing chicken ownership than guinea fowl or ducks. And again… eggs! Meat! They’re all fairly affordable to own too if you are willing to feed, water, and clean up after them.
Chemically Preventing Ticks
I’m very hesitant to try chemicals so I tend to avoid them when I can. But I did some research for you and it appears that DEET is not as useful at preventing ticks as another chemical, permethrin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the chemical is safe to put directly on your skin so you need to treat your clothing instead. Once your clothing is treated, the clothing is good for a couple washes.
Visit the CDC Website on How to Avoid Tick Contact for People to see how you can treat your clothing to prevent ticks.
I’ve also heard mention of treating yards with cinnamon oil to prevent ticks. I have no idea how effective it is or how to find this in bulk though. I ran a few searches and didn’t really come up with much.
Other Posts about Dealing with Ticks
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