9 Natural Ways to Control Ticks
9 Natural Ways to Control Ticks
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If you live in a place that has ticks, you know what a plague they can be during the summer. Here in Maine, we currently have the highest number of cases of Lymes disease in the country. That’s a scary thing to have just outside your door! While there are always commercial products we can use to help keep ticks at bay, here at Pine State DIY, we like to do things the natural way whenever possible.
Now that tick season is in full effect, Joshua and I have been trying out different ways to keep our yards clear of the tiny menace. While we haven’t tried every entry on this list, I do think they are all worth exploring. It may also be worth trying a few of these at a time if you want to make sure your yard stays truly free of ticks.
I hope this list will help keep you and your family protected when you’re out in the yard this summer. Let me know in the comments if you have any other great natural tick control options!
Cedar oil comes from, you guessed it, cedar trees. But not just cedar trees, any tree that has needles and pine cones. It has been used for thousands of years because of it’s anti-bacterial properties and because it keeps bugs of all kinds away. Cedar oil kills not only ticks but also fleas and mosquitos (who doesn’t want to keep those three far away?). But it also repels all manner of bugs, making it a perfect treatment for your yard this summer.
Cedar oil is safe for your kids and your pets. Get some of the straight essential oil and dilute with water or purchase a product like Cedarcide. Cedarside is made with only a few natural ingredients and comes already diluted perfectly for your yard. Spray the entire yard with it and redo after the recommended time period to see your yard clear of ticks for the summer.
Cedar oil is also safe enough to be used as a topical bug repellent. Keep a small spray bottle of it diluted with water around and be sure to spray yourself down before going outside. You’ll notice that bugs of all kinds stay clear of you!
Neem oil won’t kill ticks, but it is an effective way of keeping them at bay. It comes from a shade tree commonly found in Asian and India, usually from its seeds. It’s used for many things, but widely known as a very effective pesticide. It won’t help kill adult ticks if they’re already on you, but it will keep them away if you treat your lawn and yourself with it. Interestingly, it will kill tick eggs and stop the female ticks from laying fertilized eggs so while it doesn’t kill, it does disrupt tick’s lifecycle. As a bonus, neem oil is also great at repelling other pests, like mosquitos and ants, so it’s perfect for use anywhere on your lawn and in your garden.
Like cedar oil, neem is an essential oil, so you can buy it in its pure form and dilute it. You can also buy it in a pre-mixed formula, perfect for spraying your lawn. Safer Brand Neem Oil Concentrate is available in large quantities so you can cover your whole lawn and garden at once. Bonus, it’s also a fungicide!
Diatomaceous earth is safe for pets and humans but deadly for ticks and other bugs. What just looks and feels like dirt to us, is actually tiny sharp objects that pierce the bugs and cause them to dehydrate to death. Kind of a strange way to kill bugs? Yes, but it works!
The way diatomaceous earth works, however, means that the ticks have to actually come in contact with it in order for it to work. So, in order for diatomaceous earth to work completely on its own, you’d have to cover every inch of your yard with it. Since this is probably not an option for you, I would recommend creating a barrier around your yard using diatomaceous earth and then using one of the other options on this list to supplement your yards protection. An especially good place to have diatomaceous earth is in between any wooded areas and your lawn to help keep ticks from coming in in the first place. Also, be aware that you’ll probably have to reapply throughout the summer.
Eucalyptus oil is another essential oil that is excellent at keeping away ticks. Because it usually comes in small bottles, it isn’t the best for spraying the yard. However, you can mix it with vinegar in larger amounts and spray it on your property. The best way to use it is to dilute it with water and keep it in a spray bottle. You’ll enjoy the thick, earthy smell of the essential oil and you’ll have a very effective tick repellent to spray on yourself. As a bonus, it’s also excellent at repelling mosquitos! Just be sure not to use it without diluting it and it’s highly concentrated and could cause irritation if applied directly.
In my opinion, garlic is good in any situation (especially dinner) but it turns out my favorite spice is also an incredible bug repellent. Ticks and other bugs hate both the smell and the taste of garlic. So, what are you supposed to do, grow a bunch of garlic? Well, you could and it would definitely help. Or you could pick up some garlic essential oil. You could also make your own garlic oil if you’re so inclined.
Like the other essential oils on this list, garlic essential oil should be diluted with water, or oil, vinegar. However, you prefer to dilute essential oils will do. Garlic oil can seriously irritate your skin, so I would recommend just using this to spray your yard with. If you’re looking for a quicker or easier solution, you can purchase Garlic Barrier which lasts 3-4 weeks and isn’t harmful to your kids or animals.
If you’ve never heard of tick tubes, the idea behind them is going to blow your mind a little. See, it turns out that ticks really like to attach themselves to mice and other small rodents. I mean they REALLY love mice. The idea behind a tick tube is that you stuff cotton bits, like cotton balls or dryer lint, into a tube (toilet paper tubes work great). You also mix something called permethrin in with the lint. Permethrin is an insecticide that will kill the ticks, but not harm the mice. The mice take the fluff that you left in the tubes to build their nests. The ticks come in contact with the insecticide and die and the mice are left unscathed.
You can find a lot of really great tutorial online to make tick tubes yourself or you could buy them. Thermacell and Eco Health Damminix are easy to find and require nothing more from you than placing them in your yard. Tick tubes are super effective for keeping the tick population down and used in conjunction with some of the other entries on this list and you might never see a tick in your yard again.
If you’re looking to add some landscaping to your yard, consider planting something that will help keep ticks at bay. Some of them are a little more obvious, garlic and eucalyptus, for instance, have both already made the list. But there are a number of other plants that will help keep your yard clear of pests this summer. Try planting some rose geranium, citronella, lemongrass, lavender, rosemary, sage, catnip, pennyroyal, or mint near where you spend most of your time outside in the summer. Since you can’t cover your entire lawn in specialty plants, concentrating them near your porch or patio will help keep ticks away from the areas you’re most likely to be. Keep in mind that some of these plants might be toxic for pets so you’ll want to check before you plant them.
If you are thinking about controlling ticks in the long term, you might want to consider raising chickens. Chickens LOVE eating ticks because, as bugs go, they are pretty slow moving and easy for big birds like chickens to catch. And that’s good news for your yard. While chickens probably aren’t the end all be all for tick control, they can be a really effective part of your natural tick control efforts. Plus, you’ll have a bevy of fresh eggs every morning, I call that a win-win.
Natural insecticides are great, but one of the best things you can do to keep ticks away is to destroy their habitat. You probably already know that ticks love long grass, but did you also know that they love areas where anything is piled up? You should remove branches and leaf piles from your yard and be sure to keep your grass cut short. Basically, ticks won’t thrive anywhere where it is warm and dry. Also, when you go out, be sure to wear light colored clothing. It will be easier to spot ticks on you than if you’re wearing dark clothing. And always remember to check yourself for ticks when you come in from outside.
Controlling ticks in your yard can be a daunting task, but there are lots of ways to go about it. I hope this list has helped you feel confident about tackling your tick problem. Have you tried one of these methods? Have you tried something else? Let me know how it worked out in the comments!