I really don’t know how to spell the sound that people make when they talk about a spider or a tick getting on them, but Im sure you can imagine that... Recently I’ve had a lot of calls about ticks being in folks’s yards, and the noises that my customers and friends make- well, it really makes me understand their level of fear. I am around ticks so much that I might be a little de-sensitized to the fear of finding one on me, but the fear of the actual Lyme Disease, or any disease that they carry for that matter, is still a scary thought and a real threat. And since we really didn’t have a very cold winter in Georgia this year, the population of the ticks and other pests, didn’t decline much.. I work in so many grassy and wooded areas, that I am no stranger to the tick. I also know that they are in the Arachnid family, which means they are kin to the spider. Yes, they have 8 legs. Yikes. As a matter of fact, I have already found 2 ticks on me- in the first week of March this year! In my 30+ years of being in the green industry, I don’t recall ever seeing them that early. But, the good thing is, there are ways to control this pest.
Now I am not an entomologist, but because I am your Horticulturist, I can tell you a few things about some pests like ticks- and how to get rid of them.. First let me say that anytime you want to know how or when to kill an insect or pest, you should do a little research on their life cycle. You will gain valuable knowledge that makes the eradication process easier. Plus, it helps you recognize if this is a project for yourself or for a professional. Even the Center for Disease Control has a website at www .cdc .org that you can go to, to find interesting facts about ticks, their life cycle, the symptoms of Tick-borne illness, and pictures of what a tick bite area will look like, etc.
Keep in mind, that to be good stewards of our planet, we should always try to go the organic route, but if you have a severe infestation in your yard or home, you need to weigh the pros and cons of chemical vs. organic eradication. Especially when it comes to the health of your children. I will leave that up to you. First of all, of course, you can call your favorite pest control company. That’s a given, but some people like to take care of these issues, on their own.
Organic Applications: If you’d like to go the organic route, you can use an awesome product called Diatomaceous Earth. You want to make sure you get the “food grade diatomaceous earth” if pets, children or livestock will be romping around. It’s safe enough to use in your home as well, because it is not a chemical. Use it in powder form, along baseboards and even light dustings on carpets. It is made from fossilized bodies of tiny sea creatures that are shaped like shards of glass. Small pests like fleas, spiders, ticks and even eggs of ticks can not come in contact with it -without being torn to shreds and then dehydrated. It is great for using in barns as well, for cattle and horses. For the yard or pasture application, just follow the directions and mix with water to add to a sprayer. Then apply as directed. You will need to apply more than once, as more flea and tick eggs hatch. This is true for both organic and chemical applications. You can also look at other “organic spray products” and see that in the list of ingredients, they use essential oils like cedar oil, eucalyptus and pyrethrums. Make sure it says organic, or safe for pets and children. Most of the time, these will only “repel” ticks (and fleas). Also, Its great to swap years too. One year, go the Organic route. Then the next year, apply chemicals, but only do this when populations tend to be higher. We do have a certain tolerance for small populations of pests. Well, some of us do anyways.
Chemical Applications: If you’d like to take the chemical route, you can use a number of products from your local hardware or home improvement store. My favorite is called “Over ‘n Out”. It is a tad more pricey than some of the other pest control chemicals, but for us, it works like a charm. Kills the ants and the ticks. The active ingredient is Fipronil. Some other active ingredients that work -in other products, will be Carbaryl or Permethrin. All of these ingredients are good for tick control. Pesticides for ticks and other pests come in both granular and liquid form. Liquid form is great for a yard, but I prefer a granular type because it can penetrate mulches and leaves (to prevent over-wintering of the ticks).
Ticks are prevalent from early spring and on into November here in Georgia. Late spring and early summer is the time when there are a lot of cases of tick bites being reported, and sickness due to them. So, if you’d like to do an experiment, take a long stick and attach a nice sized square piece of flannel or cotton to it. Then go to a grassy, wooded or shrubby area. Wave the material lightly along the tips of the grass or shrubs and see how many ticks you get. The time of year will be a factor. Ticks like to hang out on the ends of a blade of grass, or on a shrub. They sit there- just hoping you will walk by- because they already sense your body heat, body odor and even your shadow or vibration. It’s termed “questing”. I can just see them, sitting there, hanging on with their back legs, rubbing their little front arachnid hands together just hoping that you, your kids or your pet will get closer, then they throw their little arachnid hands in the air and latch on.. oofta. Break out the DEET already! Here’s a short little video in my Bites and Stings Series, that talks more about ticks... Here’s to hoping you have a tickless summer! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv9XPIxc_fk