5 Ways to Get Rid of Ticks this Fall
Our professionals are often asked how we get rid of ticks. The answer, however, isn’t as simple as the question. Tick solutions utilize knowledge of habitat and biology, the environment, and conditions favorable to breeding. Let’s explore the components of tick control in both urban settings and rural retreats to help homeowners get a better overall understanding of the varied reasons ticks make it into our homes, onto our pets, our children, and ourselves.
Summary of Tick Biology
To get rid of ticks around the home and repel them from backyards, one must first look at the unique biology and habits of ticks. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites) meaning they must find a living host to survive. All species of ticks go through the same stages of development, from egg to larva, to nymph, to adult. Between the stages of maturation between nymph and adult, a tick requires a blood meal—the processing taking as much as a year, and several hosts, to fully complete. The immature, nymph stage of tick development poses the most significant health risk to humans and pets.
Understanding Tick Habitats
Ticks favor and flourish in humid environments, not unlike their host counterparts. For an environment to support the development of ticks, wildlife must be present. In the MidAtlantic, the primary food source for ticks is among white-tailed deer populations and the white-footed mouse. Larvae feed primarily on small mammals and birds, whereas, ticks further along in development will feed on larger mammals and humans.
Most ecosystems in our region support a suitable habitat for ticks to live and breed. Ticks make their home in wooded areas that provide cover and availability of white-footed mice, deer, and other animal hosts. Low growth vegetation, bushes, shrubs, and other ornamental plants are all home to the questing tick.
Feeding and Disease Transmission
Larval ticks and those in stages of early maturation require a blood meal between molts. Molting is the term used in biology to explain how an exoskeleton, skin, feathers or hair is shed to make way for new growth. Ticks molt between blood meals, shedding their harder outer exoskeleton (shell) to grow.
Once a tick finds a suitable host, it will attach itself. Usually in skin folds, under the arms, in the groin area, the nape of the neck, or other thin-skinned areas. Some ticks attach rather quickly, while others wander around to find a more suitable feeding site. A tick’s mouth parts are rimmed with sharp, jagged teeth-like protrusions unseen to the naked eye. It is this saw-like appendage that allows a tick to attach itself to its host and not be removed easily or without some effort.
Steps to Get Rid of Ticks and Control Populations
- Reduce areas of dense undergrowth or weeds, keep lawns, trees and shrubs trimmed, and remove leaf litter. This will allow sunlight into locations that become moist after it rains. Ticks don’t like dry spaces and this will help to reduce the humidity they need to survive.
- Remove clutter from lawns, terraces, courtyards, and play areas which ticks can hide beneath.
- Establish a 3-foot barrier of gravel or wood chips along the furthermost boundaries of your properties. This will help to prevent ticks from migrating from wooded areas.
- Make sure all exterior trash is in sealed containers and construct barriers to discourage wildlife from coming near to human-made structures and leaving ticks around foundation perimeters.
- Repair leaky spigots, hoses and make sure gutters are not broken or obstructed to reduce areas of moisture.
When to Get Help?
A professional tick control program takes into consideration the habits and habitats of ticks and the wildlife that carry them; particularly mice and rats. You can expect the following from a pest management professional:
- Routine inspections and consultation.
- Routine spray treatments around the perimeter of structures and boundary areas to eliminate ticks in all stages of development.
- Monitoring and trapping of rodents around the exterior.
- Assistance addressing attractants and entry points.
- Assistance with educational efforts.
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