How To Get Rid Of Ticks On Your Dog – In many parts of the country, diseased ticks are a serious concern, serious enough to convince some people to cover their lawns with pesticides and chemically treat their outerwear. However, many people oppose the introduction of synthetic chemicals into the environment, even to control particularly dangerous pests.
Over the past two decades, this mystery has led researchers around the world to look for natural methods to repel ticks from property and people, with some success.
How To Get Rid Of Ticks On Your Dog
According to Chinese philosopher and military strategist Sun Tzu, you must “know your enemy” before going into battle. This is especially important when dealing with ticks, which have important habits and weaknesses to exploit.
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The two most common ticks in the US, the American dog tick and the black-legged tick, search or “hunt” for hosts by perching on vegetation and waiting for them to pass by. They then grab the fur, hair or clothing of the animal (or person) with their front legs and climb aboard.
“It’s what we call an ambush strategist,” said Kirby Stafford, chief scientist and state entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Research Station.
Ticks also use vegetation as protection from the sun, which can dry them out. According to Stafford, black-legged ticks are particularly susceptible to dehydration.
For this reason, simply mowing your lawn can reduce the number of ticks you see on your property. Short grass doesn’t provide enough shelter for some tick species to survive. Picking up dead leaves, cutting back shrubs and pruning trees can also help reduce certain types of ticks in your area.
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“What we recently discovered in research is that leaf drop is very important for the survival of black-legged ticks,” said Chuck Lubelczyk, a field biologist at the Lyme and Communicable Disease Laboratory at Maine Medical Center. “Removing leaf litter from the garden and letting it dry makes it less hospitable to the black-legged tick.”
“The whole concept is to reduce the suitability of the habitat around the home for ticks,” Stafford said. “You’re not going to lose them all, but you’re going to reduce the number.”
In a study conducted by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, about 67 percent of the ticks sampled were found in heavily forested areas, 22 percent were found in unstable transitional habitats between forests and open areas, 9 percent were found in ornamental vegetation, and 2 percent were found in in lawns. On lawns, most ticks (82 percent) were then within three meters of the perimeter of the lawn, especially along woods, stone walls and ornamental plants. The study also found that there were more mites in shady areas of lawns.
Given these numbers, it makes sense that another common tick control practice is to install a 10-foot-wide barrier of gravel or rubber mulch between lawns and woods, around swings and recreation areas. This sun-exposed barrier prevents ticks from migrating.
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Unfortunately, there are some species of ticks, such as the lone tick, that can tolerate drier conditions and are therefore not as easily confused by a lack of shelter, according to the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center. In addition, the solitary tick actively pursues hosts, moving in response to carbon dioxide and movement.
“It’s a very aggressive tick with more of a hunter’s strategy,” said Stafford, who added that more research is being done on how to handle this particularly tough tick.
Although ticks like to attach to humans, they also like to feed on the blood of many other animals. For example, the black-legged tick is also known as the deer tick because it very often feeds on deer.
Therefore, one way to reduce the number of ticks on your property is to screen off frequently used outdoor areas to prevent certain tick-carrying animals, such as deer, from entering. Another option is to plant deer-resistant plants such as daffodils, lavender, mint, asters and marigolds. These plants don’t repel deer, but they don’t attract them either.
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Also consider removing bird feeders during tick season, as birds can carry ticks, as can rodents such as mice and squirrels. For this reason, it is also important to remove litter and anything that might attract these animals to your property.
In recent years, much scientific research has been done into plant materials that repel and kill ticks.
For example, gooseberry (Lindera melissifolia) essential oil was found to repel recluse and blacklegged ticks in a 2011 study by researchers in the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. A 2009 study published in the Oxford Journal of Medical Entomology found that a compound derived from catnip oil repels black-legged ticks.
In a 2003 Swedish study, citronella, clove, and lily of the valley oils protected against castor mites (the European tick, also called sheep tick); and lavender and eucalyptus oils protected against the same type of ticks in a 2016 study by researchers in the Czech Republic.
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Lemon eucalyptus oil has also been shown to be effective in repelling ticks, especially black-legged ticks, Lubelczyk said. This natural ingredient has been tested in several studies and is now commonly found in natural tick repellents.
Encouraged by these studies of different vegetable oils, a number of companies have combined different vegetable oils to create natural tick repellents that can be applied to skin, clothing and lawns. Common ingredients include garlic oil and essential oil blends of rosemary, lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, thyme, and geraniol. But unlike synthetic pesticides, these natural repellents are not regulated or tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The problem with natural sprays is that unfortunately most of them don’t work,” Stafford said. “There are no requirements for performance testing, so companies can just release these [products]. And the real problem is that you often don’t know exactly what you have. What is your herbal source? What plant does the oil come from? How is it extracted?”
Currently, the only natural tick repellent registered by the EPA is 2-undecanone, a compound derived from the wild tomato plant. In addition, natcatones, a compound derived from the essential oils of Alaskan yellow cedar, certain herbs and citrus fruits, are currently under evaluation by the EPA for registration as an effective tick repellent.
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“There are two large projects here in Connecticut and New Jersey under a grant from the CDC that are evaluating nut cottons for tick control,” Stafford said. “It’s very volatile, so that’s another problem with these [plant-based] compounds — even if it works, you put it on and it’s gone in a day or two.”
“It will take a lot of work and money to develop a spray product,” he added. “Phrasing is critical.”
Outside of the plant kingdom, there is an EPA-registered fungus, Metarhizium brunneum (formerly Metarhizium anisopliae), that has been used in lawns and gardens to kill black-legged ticks. These fungi grow naturally in soil around the world and are commercially available as a bio-insecticide called Met25.
“It’s not technically a purely biological product because it has some petroleum distillate as a carrier to keep the spores in suspension,” Stafford said, “but it’s definitely a more natural way.”
Gardeners, Take Heed: It’s A ‘tick Y Year’
Free-range chickens and other poultry, such as guinea fowl and turkeys, naturally eat ticks and other lawn pests, but whether this can have a significant effect on the number of ticks in a yard is a matter of debate.
“Relatively little is known about birds as tick predators, and references are often based on single observations and non-quantitative reports,” according to a 1996 South African study on chickens as tick predators.
For the study, a total of 461 ticks (representing four different species) were removed from the tumors and stomachs of 19 chickens over nine weeks. These chickens were allowed to roam free for a limited time in a yard in Botshabelo, South Africa. About 20 percent of the ticks found were ingested, and the researchers saw that the chickens actually picked the ticks off the livestock.
However, it is still unknown what impact poultry may have on tick populations, especially if they are only looking for these small pests in the vegetation.
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“This [topic] has had some work,” Stafford said, “but with the limited data available, it really hasn’t had that much of an impact.”
No matter how much effort you put into controlling ticks, it’s unrealistic to think you’re going to get rid of your tick possession completely, Stafford said. “There’s no such thing as a silver bullet.”
That’s why it’s important to stay alert outside, even in an area where ticks are present. There are several natural methods of self defense. One of the most common techniques is to protect the skin from ticks by wearing long pants and socks. It won’t win any fashion contests, but it may deter ticks from finding and biting your skin. This causes them to crawl
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