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How to Deal With Ticks

Updated on April 4, 2014
Maxim enjoying time in the yard.
Maxim enjoying time in the yard.
My furkids enjoy their time in the yard.
My furkids enjoy their time in the yard.

Creepy Crawlie Little Bloodsuckers

The weather starts to warm up and "pa pa pa bum" there they are , everywhere you look, crusty little bloodsucking arachnids. No, I'm not talking about spiders, although they tend to pop up about the same time. It's the dreaded tick season. Seems like it goes on forever here, or at least 11 months a year. You find them on the dog, your pantlegs, your socks, in your hair, ughhh!You begin thinking about moving to a frosty cold climate, or into an apartment with only a goldfish for a pet. Well, don't start packing just yet. There are a lot of options available to help you tackle these little buggers.

First: Know Your Enemy

These are tough little demons to deal with so arm yourself with some information about them first. A female tick lays thousands of eggs at a time, depending on the species. Oh yes, species. There are lots of those too, depending on where you live you probably only have on an average of about a half dozen types of ticks to encounter. Hatching time for the eggs is roughly 2 to 3 weeks.There are 3 stages to a ticks life: egg,nymph,and adult. It can take up to 3 years for a ticks life cycle and , oh yes, they can live for up to 2 years without a meal!

They feed on the blood of mammals: dogs,livestock,people,birds,rodents, deer, and other wildlife. They attach by burrowing into the skin, so when you remove one it is best to be sure you have removed the whole tick, head and all.

Ticks carry numerous diseases, some of them very very serious, like: Lyme disease, erhlichiosis,and rocky mountain spotted fever just to name a few. All of these quite serious especially for the very young, the elderly, or anyone with any type of immunity health problems.

You need to keep your lawn mowed short and trimming done as well as clearing away all clutter and wood debris. They just love that tall grass and wood piles and such.They will get up in trees and come down like rain when the breeze blows too.I'm told they don't get in trees, but I guess mine must be "special tick trees" because it happens here every summer.

But there is hope!It is possible to combat the little creepy crawlies. It is not easy. You must be diligent and persistent. It would help if you are not too squeemish too. I've seen many a blood-filled tick that'd bring a grown man to the "heebie jeebie shivers". Not a pretty sight, I must say.

Arm Yourself

For those to which, money is no object and if you have no objection to the use of numerous chemicals in your environment and on your pets, there are professional services to chemically treat your yard and home on a regular basis for a fee. Your pets can be taken to the vet or groomer to be dipped in a chemical bath to kill the ticks(and fleas) that are on them and you can get even more chemicals to put on your pets to keep the numbers of little bloodsuckers to a minimum. There is not a 100% guarantee, after spending all this money and exposing all to extra toxins, that a tick will not get in your yard or on your pet, but the numbers should be greatly reduced if you do this on a regular and continual basis.

Now, for those that do have just a little extra money and don't mind some chemicals in their environment and on their pet, there are oodles of products you can buy off the shelf and apply yourself in your yard, your house and on your pets. Read the labels, ask someone knowledgeable in the gardening department for a recommendation and ask "why is this one better".There are granules, powders, and sprays.Some you need to wet the area first and others after the product has been applied, some cannot get wet for at least a day after applying.

Personally, I have found a ground application that has been much more effective than some of the other products. The active ingredient is Beta-Cyfluthrin in a 11.8% solution(brand name I have used is Tempo SC Ultra, but I'm sure there are others by a different brand. Be sure to read the label for the active ingredients.) Also, with this product reading the instructions is essential! Contact will burn your skin. I speak from experience. It was not much, but a little gust of wind blew some back on my hand and arm( no I did not have gloves and long sleeves on----lesson learned). I kept washing it over and over, but it burned for two days.

Until the EPA banned Diazanon and Dursban I had no problem keeping ticks under control. They came in a granule form, you spread it on the grass then wet it down and you're done. So much for our advancements in pest control.

As for the products to use on your pets, ask someone in your area that would know from experience without having a vested interest in which product you get, such as a local kennel, shelter, dog breeder, cat breeder, groomer, show dog handler, dog trainer,etc. Some may swear by Frontline, and others Advantix, or some may have good results with a less expensive brand. If you are looking at a less expensive brand, be sure to read the active ingredient list. If it has the same ingredient and at the same % rate as the brand name, you "should" get the same result.They all have different ingredients, in the major brands anyway, so read up on it and be aware that some breeds of dogs(collies in particular) may have a reaction to certain chemicals and some products are only for dogs and some only for cats.

Okay,this is the part you're probably looking for. The cheapest way to deal with the problem. $$$$$Well, like all the other products above, none are 100% effective. But, to tackle this with the least amount of chemicals and the least expense, you may try to start with diatomaceous earth. Some swear by it, others don't want to mess with the dust. It is a natural product made up of ground up crustacea and it kills the pest(not just ticks but other garden pests as well)by tiny little cuts, the diatomaceous earth is apparently sharp edged and when crawling insects go over it they get sliced.Get the food grade diatomaceous earth not the kind used for filtering pools and such. You can also sprinkle it on your pets food--it is safe for them. It is good for removing some types of intestinal worms when eaten.You can use it on your pets coat to help rid of the ticks and fleas that are on them. Put it around the house along the walls and leave it for a few days to a week and then sweep or vacuum it up once you see a reduction in the bugs in your house. Also put around the outside edge of your house so you can tackle them before they even get in.Use caution as to breathing this in though, for both you and your pets. This is a very super fine powder and can easily get into your lungs, which is not a good thing. So when dusting your pet with this, use sparingly and do not work up a big cloud of dust or get up on his face and you might want to wear face protection for yourself.Wash up real good after using this too, it will dry your skin very fast.

There's also a preventative method of putting a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in your dogs water each day, it changes the ph to where your dog will be less likely to be attractive to /or less tasty to fleas or ticks. Brewers yeast is another natural product that some will swear by.Most of the old farmers and ranchers have told me to sprinkle sulphur powder in your yard and that will be the end of your fleas and ticks.

Bathing and dipping your dog(s) as needed and treating the inside of your house, the pet bedding and crates will all assist in getting control over your tick infestation.

There are also herbal and homeopathic, naturalistic, holistic remedies available. One recipe I was given was for equal parts essential oils: citronella, rosemary,cedarwood,and clovebud, make mixture of this( I use 1cc. of each) with about a pint of water and put in a spray bottle and use on your dogs before they go out. Shake well before spraying.The recipes available are too numerous to list. But,if you have a favorite natural solution/recipe please feel free to share here.

Be ever on the watch for ticks, be diligent, and be patient. Good luck.

Still Thinking About Packing?

I told you it wouldn't be easy, but it can be done. If you haven't started packing then maybe I have given you at least some hope to cling to.If you are packing, let me share this with you. You'll have to go where it is very cold for a very long time every year. You will get to pull out your shorts and flipflops for a short time each year, the rest of your days will be in turtlenecks,longjohns and coveralls. Well, maybe not QUITE that bad, but you need to be in a climate where there is a long hard freeze each winter to even keep the ticks at a minimum. I think I'll stay here in the warm clime in my shorts and tank top picking ticks off my dog while he gets his ears scratched and gives a big ole hug. Squish! That was one big tick.Nasty little sucker!

Auggie, chillin in the shade.
Auggie, chillin in the shade.


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