Make no mistake: It’s springtime, and the ticks are out to get us.
Though the adult blacklegged tick — what most of us refer to as the “deer” tick — are active throughout the fall and winter, the warmer temperatures send these critters out from their cold -weather shelters of leaf and woodpiles in search of the blood meals that allow them to survive. A revolting thought indeed. But much more dismaying is that deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease to the pets and people they bite. The most common tick-borne illness, Lyme disease is most prevalent in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions. Most cases of Lyme disease are transmitted from May through July when those poppy seed-sized nymphal deer ticks are most active. And though deer provide the fast and far-ranging vehicle on which ticks love to hitch a ride, most studies point to white-footed mice as the main culprits for producing and spreading Lyme-infected ticks.
One important way to protect your family and pets from Lyme disease is to make your property as inhospitable as possible to deer ticks and the animals that carry them. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Ticks prefer moisture. Look to reduce shady and damp areas in the areas of your yard that the family recreates.
- Ticks can’t live in short vegetation. Keep weeds, leaf litter, and brush away from your home, and keep the grass mowed.
- Make your property unattractive to tick-bearing “host” animals.
- Avoid putting bird feeders in areas where children play.
- Keep family recreational areas and play equipment a good distance away from the wood piles, stone walls, and other structures where mice often shelter.
- Establish boundaries. Establish a three-foot gravel or wood-chip buffer zone between your yard and tick-infested wooded areas and fields. The buffer also serves as a good “keep out!” visual cue for the kids.
- Treat your lawn with tick-killing products that are safe for your family and pets. SavATree’s Organic Tick Control Treatment kills ticks on contact and provides residual control lasting 30-60 days. Products are applied to your entire property, with particular attention to areas known to be the deer tick’s preferred habitat.