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Dealing with Ticks

Ticks can carry serious diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Learn how to control and prevent ticks in your lawn and landscape.

Tick crawling on arm.

Tick Behavior and Habitat

Ticks are most commonly found in warmer months, but they can become active in early spring when the weather is still cool. Ticks depend on man and animals for transportation and for food. The tick will attach itself to any passing mammal. After a meal of the host's blood, the female tick will release her hold, drop to the ground and lay eggs. To continue the life cycle ticks need humidity and shade. They prefer habitats of leaves, groundcover, weeds and shady areas near woods and walls.

Preventing Ticks in the Landscape

Deer tick.

A homeowner can't realistically redesign their landscape to make it completely tick-proof, but here are some things you can do:

• Create a buffer zone around your lawn and garden, especially if you're near a wooded area. An area at least three feet wide should be between your lawn and the wooded area. Remove leaves and other debris and fill the area with a band of bark or stone mulch.

• Increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the property. Ticks don't survive long in the bright sunshine.

• Keep the area weed free and keep grass mowed at its proper height.

• Use plants that don't attract deer (deer ticks are hosts of Lyme disease).

• Keep woodpiles neat and dry (this also discourages rodents).

• Trim trees and shrubs to keep them away from decks, patios, porches and playground equipment.

• Examine yourself, your children and your pets after venturing into the yard.

• Choose the right pesticide and use it safely and properly. 

What to do When You Find a Tick

A tick's mouthparts are barbed and attach securely to its host. Should you find a tick embedded in your skin or your pet, carefully pull it out with tweezers. Get as near to the mouth part as possible and take care not to squeeze it. Pulling upward (do not twist), make sure you remove the entire tick and do not squeeze it. Wash and disinfect the area.  Get rid of the tick by sealing it a bag, or wrapping it in tape and discarding.

If you develop a rash or fever (this could take weeks), see a doctor immediately.

Read more about dealing with ticks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Caution

If you develop a rash or fever (this could take weeks), see a doctor immediately.