We’ve had an exceptionally mild winter and now that we find ourselves in early spring, we need to be mindful of those most nasty of arachnids…THE TICK.
Due to this mild weather, folks are already seeing a tick presence in their yards. The eggs are in the soil of your yard and this last little warm spell is kicking the hatch into high gear. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t see tick season starting for another month or so, but they’re already out and about.
Of course, we hate finding these little vampires on our pets. They’re hanging out in your yard, in that taller grass that you may not have gotten around to cutting yet, just waiting for the buffet to wander by. And I’m not talking about JUST your pets…ticks will latch onto a human just as quickly as a dog! According to the Center for Disease Control, a tick that has latched onto a human would need to be attached for thirty-six to forty-eight hours for the Lyme disease bacteria to be shared. There are other tick-borne diseases and reported cases are on the rise. Of the twenty tick species found in our state, four of them have been known to bite humans.
Lots of folks will slather on the DEET based insecticides to repel ticks, mosquitoes and more. We’re not talking about mosquitoes today, but the best way to avoid them is to eliminate standing water sources from your property. But I digress…DEET is, in fact, an effective repellent, but it also carries with it the potential to harm humans and the environment. There are plenty of DEET-free alternatives to help make your yard an unfriendly environment for ticks.
Here are some tried and true methods that help:
Keep your lawn mowed. Eliminate the areas where ticks would be hanging out such as tall grass at the edge of your lawn, excess brush and leaf litter. Rather than leaving your grass clippings or leaves around, compost them and use that to fertilize your garden.
Create a buffer zone. A wood chip or gravel buffer around the inside perimeter of your yard can keep ticks at bay, since they don’t like to walk across these surfaces. Another, less expensive alternative is diatomaceous earth. This is also great for other pests, like slugs, snails and earwigs.
Keep your wood warm. Ticks like cooler, moist areas, but not sunny and dry areas. If you have a wood pile and it’s located in a shady, moist area of your yard – move it. Keep it neatly stacked in a sunny and dry area and you’ll do a lot toward eliminating a tick-friendly environment.
Utilize repellent plants. Citronella, rosemary, garlic and some varieties of rose geranium are great to grow in your yard and have a tick repellent quality that increases their value.
Clean up. Remove leaves and keep the areas around your home free from brush and taller grass, and you will create an environment unattractive to ticks.
Don’t encourage the deer. Lots of folks in Rogue River, Wimer and other areas of the Rogue Valley encourage deer to frequent their yards. This also invites a huge population of ticks to catch a ride into your areas. If your bird feeders are drawing deer into your yard, remove them or reconfigure what you have into something that does not interest the deer.
In the event that you or your pet falls prey to a tick bite, avoid the heat method and the Vaseline methods. The most effective method of removing a tick – even an embedded one – is as simple as reverse pressure with a twist.