Gardening isn’t always sunshine and roses. A major downside for many of us is confronting harmful insects, namely ticks and mosquitoes, which are at best a nuisance and at worst a source of disease. Here are tips on driving these pests out of your yard and garden and protecting yourself from their bites.
To Control Ticks and Prevent Tick Bites:
- Ticks live in damp, humid environments, such as wooded areas and tall grass.
- You may wish to apply an acaricide (a pesticide used to kill ticks); consult with a professional pesticide-application company or dealer for organic and non-organic options, the best times to spray, etc.
- Whether or not you uses acaricides, you can take steps to make your yard and garden less hospitable to ticks. These include the following.
- Make a three-foot-wide barrier zone between woodlands/wild areas and your lawn and garden that will discourage ticks from moving from the woods to the areas you use. This three-foot strip could be constructed of wood chips or gravel (less maintenance) or grass mown short (more maintenance).
- Don’t create potential homes or attractants for wildlife that carry ticks, such as deer. A deer-proof fence is the best deterrent for deer.
- Similarly, take steps to prevent mice, which are actually the source where ticks pick up the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. To prevent mice, remove wood piles and brush piles where they may nest. Remove bird feeders during the warm seasons, as spilled seed can attract mice. Your three-foot wide tick barrier will also deter mice, as they do not like to travel without the cover of tall grass or brush.
- If you have a lawn, keep it mowed.
- Chickens and some wild birds feed on ticks, so consider raising chickens and making a bird-friendly garden.
- As much as possible, stay out of areas with dense, tall plants (such as prairie gardens or meadows) or with moist, woodsy conditions (such as woodland gardens). When you do enter these areas to tend to your plants, protect yourself by wearing a hat, long sleeves, long pants, tall socks and shoes or boots. Consider tucking your pants into your socks. Wear light colors, against which it’s easy to spot ticks.
- Ask your doctor for advice on an insect repellant to wear on your skin.
- After gardening or spending time in the yard, check for ticks, especially on any exposed areas and in creases, such as behind the knee, inside the elbow, behind the ear, etc.
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