Ticks are common insects all over the United States. Since southwest Florida has year round warm temperatures, ticks can be found here throughout the year. That means that just like mosquitoes, there’s really no such thing as tick season in Florida. The control of pesky insects in SWFL is an ongoing job in our subtropical climate.
Why Tick Control is Important
Ticks are a significant source of disease in the U.S. Tick-borne diseases are transmitted through tick bites and they happen frequently without people even knowing they’ve happened. Disease control is the number one reason that controlling a tick population around your home is important. It’s also important to protect yourself from ticks in recreational areas or when you’re doing any kind of outdoor activities away from your home, such as hiking.
The most common diseases found in ticks in Florida are ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other spotted fever illnesses. Ticks aren’t just a problem for people though, they are also a problem for pets. Cat and dog owners should be on top of controlling the tick population in their yard and outdoor areas because ticks like to hitch rides on pets. That means your dog or cat could easily bring a tick into your home that could end up on you. But a tick could also decide to make your pet its host and tick-borne illnesses can also be passed to animals just like they can be passed to people.
Different Types of Ticks in Florida
Brown dog tick
The brown dog tick feeds mainly on dogs and can be more than just an outdoor pest. Brown dog ticks tend to find their way inside more frequently than other ticks. These ticks have been found to carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
American dog tick
These ticks are found primarily on dogs but will also feed on humans and other animals if they need to. These are more of an outdoor pest than brown dog ticks and they’re known to carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. American dog ticks can cause paralysis in dogs and children when the tick attaches to the spinal column or base of the skull.
Lone star tick
The lone star tick is the most common human-biting tick in Florida. Lone star ticks transmit ehrlichiosis and Southern tick-associated rash illness.
Gulf coast tick
These ticks are most commonly found on larger mammals like cattle. They transmit a less severe Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever relative, Rickettsia parkeri.
Black legged tick (aka deer tick)
The deer tick is known to be the most common carrier of Lyme disease. They also carry abesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis. It’s referred to as a deer tick because the white tailed deer is its preferred host.
How to Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard Naturally
Getting rid of ticks naturally will require a combination of tactics. Unfortunately, ticks are resilient and getting rid of them or keeping them at bay may require an approach that is a little more aggressive, such as hiring a professional pest control company. The following are all steps you should take to get rid of ticks in your yard naturally.
Keep your lawn cut short
Tall grass attracts ticks because it helps them get a good vantage point for grabbing onto a host as it passes through. Ticks thrive in tall grass because it helps them reach their main objective, which is finding a meal. Blood is their main food source so they are always on the lookout for an animal or person sweep up against a plant or tall blade of grass. Keep your yard cut regularly and do not let grass grow tall around the edges of your property.
Keep brush and leaf litter cleaned up
Brush, leaf piles, and other yard waste pose the same issues as tall grass. They also provide a damp and shaded area for ticks to hang out. The combination of dampness and shade is a tick magnet. Keeping your outdoor spaces neatly manicured and cleaned up may not reduce the number of ticks you have to contend with, but it makes it hard for them to catch a ride on you or your pet in passing.
Create a barrier between wooded areas and your yard
Ticks will make their way from wooded areas into your yards. Placing barriers such as gravel, a wide barrier of wood chips, specifically cedar chips, or round landscaping timbers at the end of your property actually makes it more challenging for them to get into your yard. Ticks are less likely to even attempt to cross these kinds of materials.
Keep swing sets and play equipment way from wooded areas
Swing sets, play equipment, and outdoor furniture are best kept away from wooded areas and even better kept in the sunshine. Again, ticks love the shade and anything that can hold moisture will also attract them.
Deter deer from entering your yard
Deer will carry ticks into your yard and keeping them out will help keep the tick population in your yard down. Do not feed deer and construct barriers that will prevent them from entering your outdoor spaces.
Remove wood piles or keep them dry
Moist wood is a big attraction to ticks. Any moist areas will be an issue. Keep your wood stacked neatly in a dry area to keep ticks less interested in living there. If you can keep your wood pile in a covered place to keep it dry or in direct sunlight, this will be a big help.
Avoid Overwatering your yard and plants
Again, moist areas are an easy way to attract ticks so you’ll want to make sure you don’t over water your outdoor plants or yard. Pay special attention to areas that don’t drain well and find ways to keep them dry.
Use natural tick repellents
There are several effective natural treatments for repelling ticks. Essential oils or plants that create oils are the most commonly used natural tick repellent. These repellents will be effective for any species of ticks, but they may not work for long periods of time and vary in potency based on the quality of essential oil you purchase and the type you choose to use.
Cedar oil both kills and repels ticks. You can find cedar oil spray in the garden department of most stores. You can also make this spray yourself with 1-2 teaspoons of cedarwood essential oil and one cup of water. Just apply the mixture around the perimeter of your yard every few weeks.
Neem oil as an insecticide is pretty effective. To make your own treatment for your yard, mix 2 teaspoons of neem essential oil and 4 cups of water to a spray bottle and spray the ground around your yard and in shady areas with tall grass.
Garlic oil doesn’t kill ticks, but it’s pungent smell repels them. Mince 2-4 bulbs of garlic and soak it overnight in 1 cup of water. Apply this mixture with a spray bottle around your yard, play set, porch, and other outdoor living areas.
Peppermint or Eucalyptus Oil:
Peppermint and eucalyptus oil are more oils with a strong smell that deters ticks. Mix 8 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil with 1 cup of water. Add the mixture to a spray bottle and apply it around the perimeter of your property. When the scent starts to fade, just reapply the oil mixture. Usually around 1-2 weeks after application.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural abrasive powder made from fossilized algae and can be used to dry out and kill ticks. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your home and around the perimeter of your yard to keep tick populations controlled. A line of 1-2 inches thick will kill any ticks that pass through it.
Encourage natural tick predators in your yard
Birds and lizards love to eat ticks and they cause minimal issues for your outdoor spaces, so invite them into your yard. Avoid bird baths since standing water is an issue for mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Try bird feeders instead. Encourage lizards to live in your yard with bushy perennials and rock stacks in your flower garden where they can take refuge. Lizards are pretty low on the food chain so they will only stick around if they have places to find shelter and feel safe.
Use a tick tube
This is a small cardboard tube filled with cotton balls treated with permethrin, a tick-killing chemical. The tubes are placed in areas where small mammals like mice, which ticks feed on, are known to travel. This can be effective at killing ticks but you’ll want to be careful with placement of these if you have pets or other animals in the area that may get ahold of the tube. They are said to be safe for dogs, but are still probably best put in locations they can’t reach. Another benefit of tick tubes is that they are helpful for reducing flea populations as well.
Grow tick repelling plants
You can grow certain plants in your yard that produce oils that will act as a natural insect repellent. Using plants around decks, along walkways, around pet runs, and patios is a great way to repel ticks and other pesky biting insects. Ticks will avoid latching onto these plants that have pungent smells that ticks don’t like. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these plants are effective deterrent for ticks.
- Rose geranium
Professional Tick Control
Don’t forget that the most effective way to control ticks is a combination of all of the above methods and regular tick inspection on yourself and your pets after spending time in outdoor areas. Ticks can be sneaky and may be on your close on in your hair without you feeling a thing. Ticks are also quite tough and even after all of these above steps for natural remedies are taken, you may still find yourself with a need for a stronger solution.
The use of pesticides from a professional pest control company is safe and highly effective for treating or preventing a tick infestation. Adult ticks and tick larvae can be difficult to eradicate, especially during breeding seasons. It’s extremely important to get tick activity around your home under control to prevent the spread of tick borne diseases.
BuzzOFF offers free estimates for all of our services and we specialize in making your outdoor areas safe and enjoyable for you and your family. Living in sunny southwest Florida, we want to be able to enjoy our beautiful weather and outdoor activities! BuzzOFF of SWFL can make that possible. For more information about BuzzOFF of SWFL’s pest control services, call us at (239)430-0097 or contact us online.