Understanding Effective DIY Tick Control MethodsReading time: 7 minutes
According to the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, ticks are common in Canada, with about 40 species countrywide.
While many species of ticks won’t cause harm, some of these arachnids can pose serious health risks to humans. A tick’s bite can cause severe and potentially even deadly infections like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, Borrelia miyamotoi disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Powassan virus disease, and new, unnamed infections that scientists are just beginning to learn about.
Lyme disease alone can cause serious symptoms like headaches or migraines, fever, severe muscle and joint pain, a skin rash, and extreme fatigue, according to Public Health Ontario.
This makes controlling ticks around your home and in your yard incredibly important. DIY tick control methods are a great way to start since many are inexpensive, free, or readily available. You can keep these tiny, dangerous creatures away from your space when combined with professional tick control services.
How To Identify Problem Areas
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association suggests that the most common places for ticks to nest include leaf litter, tall or unmowed grass, and wooded areas. They can be found in urban, suburban, and rural areas, so practicing good tick prevention is a good idea no matter where you live.
You can check for the risk of coming into contact with Lyme disease-carrying ticks in your area by using the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)’s interactive map. If you live, work, or travel in a high-risk area, taking extra precautions against bites is essential.
5 Effective DIY Tick Control Methods
Proactively preventing and eliminating ticks near your home is critical to reducing your risk of contracting a tick-borne disease. Here are 5 DIY tick control methods you can try right now.
1. Adequate Lawn Maintenance
Ticks thrive in areas with lots of hiding places. If your grass is high, your bushes are overgrown, or you have piles of unraked leaves, you can guarantee there are at least a few ticks around. Keeping your lawn maintained and clear of debris is one of the most important parts of reducing tick populations near your home.
If your yard is cluttered or has a lot of weeds or plant growth that hasn’t been trimmed, you’re essentially inviting ticks to your home and giving them a nice place to set up camp. During the summer, mow the grass frequently and be sure to weed eat around pathways and garden beds. In the fall, rake and remove dead leaves as soon as possible before ticks can find their way in to lay eggs.
2. Disrupting Tick Nests
Contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t really have “nests” per se. Instead, they tend to congregate in the areas described above. The more foliage, the better, so keeping things trimmed down and cleaned up is one of the best ways to make your space inhabitable for ticks.
However, ticks lay eggs that can take weeks or months to hatch. Atlantic Canadian publication Saltwire suggests that the eggs of black-legged ticks (also known as Deer ticks) are buried so they can survive weather as cold as -30°C. While a good Canadian winter will kill off many ticks, it won’t eradicate them all.
And with climate change becoming an increasingly prevalent problem, there may come a point where there aren’t any winters cold enough to dent annual tick populations. CBC News is already reporting the rapid growth of Lyme disease cases across the country, skyrocketing from just 144 in 2009 to a staggering 3,147 in 2021.
As winter temps rise, fewer ticks die, leaving more eggs to hatch in the coming spring. With longer than ever springs, summers, and warmer falls, there’s also a lot more time for ticks to procreate and lay even more eggs, causing the cycle to continue. Eliminating spaces where ticks are likely to congregate and “nest” is crucial to help fight the effects of climate change on populations of this dangerous arachnid.
3. Using Natural Repellants
Like many insects, ticks are repelled by plants with a strong odour or pungent essential oils. These include citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, sage, cedar, and lavender. Plant these in your garden and around your home, or dab the oil on your clothes before you head outside to make your house and yourself as unappealing to ticks as possible.
You can also use a substance called diatomaceous earth, a white powder made from the fossilized remains of marine algae. These tiny particles are incredibly sharp and can cut through a tick’s hard exoskeleton, causing them to dehydrate and die. Unlike insecticides and tick repellents like DEET, diatomaceous earth is safe for humans and pets, so you can use it anywhere outside to kill ticks and prevent them from returning.
4. Treating Clothes and Outdoor Gear
Permethrin-treated clothing and outdoor gear effectively repel ticks in heavily wooded areas like campsites and near lakes and rivers. Permethrin is a powerful insecticide that triggers a tick’s central nervous system, causing it to over-excite and eventually resulting in paralysis and death.
Permethrin-treated fabric has been approved for individuals over the age of 16, including pregnant people, but should be kept away from pets and children. Ensure any treated clothing or gear you buy has a Health Canada Pest Control Product (PCP) number. If not, it could be a counterfeit item.
5. Doing Regular Tick Checks
Anytime you are outside for an extended period or come into contact with trees, piles of leaves, tall grass, or other typical tick habitats, you should perform a tick check immediately upon entering your home.
Tick checks can help you catch ticks that have bitten you or a family member early – before they have a chance to transmit any kind of infection or disease.
The Government of Canada lists the top 10 places to check for ticks:
- The waist and navel area
- In your hair and around your head
- Inside and around your ears
- Under your arms and around your chest area
- Around the groin and genital area
- The back and rear
- Behind the knees and around the legs
- Between the toes
But what are you looking for exactly?
Ticks can be as small as the head of a pin, especially when young. You’re looking for dark bumps or spots up to 1cm in width and length. You may or may not see legs – in fact, seed ticks might look like nothing more than a freckle that’s darker in colour. Feel around for small bumps on your skin that shouldn’t be there, and remove any ticks with a pair of tweezers.
Understanding the Effectiveness of DIY Tick Control Methods & Their Limitations
While many DIY tick control methods can prevent tick-borne illnesses, they may be less effective at controlling large populations of ticks. This is especially true if you live near a wooded area or have trees or tall bushes in your yard that you don’t want to cut down.
DIY methods are also more susceptible to harsh weather conditions. Heavy rain can easily wash away diatomaceous earth and essential oils, while high winds can tear tick-repelling plants out of the ground. Depending on your situation, it may be necessary to contact a professional exterminator.
Combining Professional Tick Control and DIY Methods
Usually, the most effective treatments combine DIY tick control methods and professional services. For example, natural repellents can help you reduce the amount of insecticides used around your home, but insecticides can eradicate more ticks faster and keep them from coming back.
The best solutions for you can depend on where you live, your natural surroundings, the layout of your home, and whether or not you have children or pets. It’s a good idea to talk to a professional exterminator in your area to learn more about your different options for tick control and what combination of removal and deterrent methods is likely the most effective for your home.
Get Rid of Ticks Fast With Buzz Boss’ Effective Tick Removal Services
Looking for affordable tick treatments in Canada? Buzz Boss provides the following cities and surrounding areas with comprehensive tick removal and control:
- Red Deer
Tick-borne illnesses are severe and can affect you or your loved one for the rest of their lives. You can help keep your family safer by practicing good tick safety habits like the ones listed above and enlisting the help of a qualified exterminator.