Ticks may be one of the smallest summer pests in my neighborhood, but they’re also the scariest because they carry Lyme disease. I’ve had Lyme; my daughter had Lyme; her BFF two doors down had Lyme; and my dog, Spot, got it twice.
I blame the herd of deer that live in my side yard for giving us all Lyme, a bacterial illness carried by ticks. We tend to think of deer as being the usual carriers and the woods as being the danger zones, but other wild animals carry ticks, too. Think opossums, raccoons, squirrels, birds, lizards, mice, and even rats. (Look out, urban areas.)
Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some ticks -- like the American dog tick and the brown dog tick -- even specialize in dogs. And Lyme disease is a big deal for our fur babies, because the organism can travel to many parts of their body and localize in joints or kidneys.
My War on Ticks
I’m warring with the ticks by:
- Targeting the ones shacking up with field mice
- Creating a tick barrier on the edge of my yard
How to Make DIY Tick Tubes
To get at the ticks living with the mice, I sprayed cotton with a permethrin (costs $11 to $16), a pesticide that kills ticks but not mice, and stuffed the cotton in toilet paper tubes. Then I put the tubes in the brushy undergrowth in the woods edging my lawn.
My plan is that the field mice will use the cotton to build little tick-killing nests in my yard.
If that sounds like too much work, you can buy premade tick tubes for $22 to $45.
Create a Tick Barrier
To make it hard for the ticks to walk into my yard, I cleaned the winter leaf debris from the edge of the woods surrounding the lawn.
If your yard is small enough (or your tick warfare budget is big), you can create a tick barrier by putting a yard-wide swath of mulch, stones, or gravel between the wooded areas of your yard and your lawn.
I also moved my daughter’s play equipment (a field hockey goal) to the center of the lawn to keep her away from the tick-filled woods.
This may sound like a lot of work, but your family's health, including your dog's well-being, are well wroth the effort.