Ticks. Just the word makes my skin crawl and head itch.
Unfortunately for me, since moving to a house in the woods, spring means
ticks, and lots of them. Which means the risk of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia. So what’s a gal with a healthy fear of disease-carrying parasites to do?
I’m determined to keep my yard and body tick-free, so I’m reading up on how to best ward off the little beasties. Repellent-wise, the Centers for Disease Control and my entomology pals at the University of Tennessee both agree that bug repellants with DEET as a main ingredient are the best chemical repellent for all arthropods (the bug group that ticks fall into). Mosquitos are arthropods as well, so you’ll be doubly protected.
Not down with the DEET? You can try a natural repellent containing
rose geranium oil, but your best bet is creating a barrier with your
clothing. Before heading out into potentially tick-infested areas (high
grass and heavily wooded areas), make sure you’re wearing long pants and
sleeves. Ticks can’t fly; they crawl up from the ground or drop down
from trees. So, tuck your pant legs into your socks and wear a hat to
keep the little suckers at bay. Additionally, wearing light colors makes
ticks easier to spot.
Fashion has to take a backseat when we’re dealing with ticks, guys.
Lastly, you can take measures in your yard to reduce the number of potential pests. Your biggest defense? Mow the lawn. Mowing the grass decreases tick “questing,” which is the way they stalk their prey…meaning you. It also increases the temperature, meaning fewer cool clumps of tall grass to hide in, and ticks don’t like the heat.
Sometimes the drawback to living in a beautiful outdoor landscape is
dealing with nature’s smallest predators. Do you have a tick problem
where you live, or are you plagued by other pests? We'd like to know how you combat these blood-suckers.