Some bugs are just annoying, such as tiny little sugar ants that find their way to your pantry in summer or the fruit flies that become common when you start harvesting produce from your garden. Other bugs can be dangerous, however. Ticks are one such bug. While usually thought of as an insect, which has six legs and antennae, a tick is actually an eight-legged arachnid, like a spider.
Ticks are blood sucking parasites that can cause disease in both humans and animals. They hitch a ride on you as you walk through the woods or the grass in your yard. Once they have landed on their victim, they quickly get to work digging their proboscis — a tube-like mouth part that sucks — into your skin. Like a miniature, mythological vampire, they will stay embedded in your skin, feasting on your blood until they are noticed and removed. Deer ticks, which are extremely tiny, are known for carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. While the symptoms and severity can vary, Lyme disease can be debilitating, with the damage sometimes adversely affecting the host for life. A bite from the Lone Star tick can cause you to become allergic to red meat. There are dozens of other pathogens carried by ticks that the Centers for Disease Control recognizes can cause illness in humans and some animals, such as dogs.
While ticks cannot be completely eradicated, and you can't do much to avoid them while walking through fields or forests, you can take steps in your own backyard for tick control. Here is a look at two tips to reduce the problem.
Do What You Can to Discourage Hosts
While you may enjoy seeing deer, rabbits, and birds in your yard, they are hosts for ticks just as you are. In areas that are prone to ticks, it's best to take down bird feeders. You may also need to fence in your yard if you have an abundance of wildlife. You'll also want to make sure rodents don't have any reason to be in your yard. Keep the garbage to a minimum, and if you have a compost bin, keep it secure.
Change Your Landscaping
Deer, in particular, are attracted to certain plants and trees. Fruit trees, such as cherry, apple, and pear, are food for deer and other critters. They also love browsing on daisies, tulips, and your rose bushes.
Instead, have your landscaper put new plants in that wildlife don't care for, such as marigolds, lily of the valley, and lilacs. No plant is completely deer-proof, but by adding those to the yard that deter them, you can cut down on the wildlife as well as the ticks.
Ticks also enjoy humid locations, so your landscape can also do with some xeriscaping. This means they choose plants that do better in dryer regions. Hardscaping, the addition of stone patios, brick ledges, and other features, can also help keep wildlife and ticks from coming into your yard. Have your landscaper also mow frequently, as well as spray an herbicide to reduce long grasses.