Most of us look forward to Spring. Blooming flowers, budding trees, lush lawns, and of course, warm weather. I don't want to be a pessimist, but with all of those wonderful things comes the return of some of one of the most hated parasites in the world - ticks.
Besides the obvious gross factor of these tiny arachnids (yes, ticks are not insects) they are one of the largest pathogen carrying culprits. This year (2021) is supposed to be another record year for ticks and the diseases they spread.
Lyme Disease is what we fear most from ticks, but different varieties of ticks and their expanding ranges are transferring other scary ailments to humans. The Lone Star tick has reached New England, and you want to do everything you can to keep it away from your family, and your pets.
A great way to accomplish this without chemicals or temporary treatments is constructing a tick barrier out of wood chips or crushed stone. The wood chips should be coarse, like from a wood chipper that tree companies use. Finely shredded mulch is not as effective. The crushed stone should be 3/4" diameter or larger. Ticks like moist, soft surfaces to travel over such as decaying leaves on the forest floor. The sharp dry texture of either the stone, or wood chip, will send ticks back where they came from.
How To Create A Tick Barrier
First - Identify Where You Need It
Ticks thrive in wooded areas, tall grasses, or overgrown brush. If your yard borders any of those that is where you will create the barrier.
Use Wood Chips Or Coarse Gravel For The Barrier
You can use crushed stone, or wood chips for the barrier. Both materials are a deterrent to ticks and will keep them out of your yard. You will find wood chips are usually the better choice for a few reasons. Wood chips (coarse chip not fine mulch) are cheap, easy to spread, and generally appealing aesthetically. But either option will get the job done.
Making The Tick Barrier
Use a wheel barrow to move the material around the yard. A skid steer or small machine will save you time and energy, that is if you have one at your disposal. The barrier should be three feet wide, and a few inches thick. A thin barrier is less likely to be effective. If you have a large yard a barrier around the perimeter may not be an option. Instead you can build the barrier around play equipment, or frequented areas of the property.
Lone Star Tick & Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease & the Lone Star tick should motivate you to protect yourself from ticks when outdoors, especially in wooded areas. Try to wear white, or light colored clothing. This will let you have a better chance of spotting a tick on you. Long sleeves are recommended to mitigate the chance of the tick making it to your skin. There are also tick repellents that can be applied which may deter ticks with their fragrance. Lavender, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, cedar, rose geranium and citrus have all been shown to keep ticks away.
The infographic below will give you information on the Lone Star tick, many in the Northeast know little about it, as it has only recently been found here. Steak lovers have the most to fear from this tick, it can infect humans with Alpha-gal Syndrome.This rare disorder essentially makes you allergic to not only red meat, but other mammal byproducts as well. "Alpha-gal syndrome is a recently identified type of food allergy to red meat and other products made from mammals. In the United States, the condition most often begins when a Lone Star tick bites someone. The bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the person's body. In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions to red meat, such as beef, pork or lamb, or other mammal products." That alone is enough to keep me out of the woods! There is more info on the Lone Star tick below:
Make Sure To Properly Remove Ticks
Our Choice For Best Tick Repellent
Cedarcide Tickshield is a great product that repels not only ticks, but mosquitos and other pests as well. This product works well for people or our furry friends (they recommend using on pets over 20lbs). Besides being a repellent, Tickshield is also an insecticide. This means that the natural compounds in the product kill the insect, but are safe for us.
We like that it's long lasting, effective, and made from natural compounds. You can click the image to buy it on Amazon.