I hate bugs of all kinds, but ticks have a special place on my list because they’re dangerous and practically indestructible. I also don’t want to use a lot of chemical bug sprays with out family. Here’s some ways to keep ticks out of your yard naturally and without harsh pesticides.
The other day I was changing the twins for bed and one of them had a tick on his shoulder. Yuck. We live in the country so ticks are pretty common around here. I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping them away from the kids and pets, and here’s how we do it.
Oh yeah. Did I mention I’m arachnophobic? Yup, ticks are in the same family as spiders and scorpions. That’s why you won’t see any pictures of ticks in this post.
They also sometimes carry Lyme disease. So they’re definitely not something you want hanging around your family.
What are the Most Common Types of Ticks in North America?
Your backyard probably only has brown ticks. These are commonly known as wood ticks or dog ticks. They’re not carriers for Lyme disease. Brown ticks do sometimes carry other diseases, though, so you still don’t want them to latch on. Plus tick bites hurt!
Blacklegged ticks are the ones you need to worry about. If you live out in the country or are venturing out in the wilderness you’re more likely to have these around.
Deer ticks are the most common type of blacklegged tick. These are considered carries for Lyme disease and should be sent to your government tick control department if you pull one off your body.
Familiarize yourself with tick identification (TW: pictures of ticks).
What to Do If You Get a Tick Bite
- If you find yourself bitten by a tick don’t panic! You’re probably going to be fine. If you can find someone to help it’s easier, especially if it’s a place that’s hard to reach. Remove the tick with tweezers or a special tick removing tool. If you absolutely can’t remove it go see a doctor.
- Make sure you remove the mouth part of the tick. If it snaps off and you can’t remove it head over to a doctor’s office. If you do decide to remove it yourself, use a sterilized pair of tweezers or a needle. The tick’s head doesn’t pose danger, but it can get infected.
- Check the tick to see what type of tick it is.
- If it’s a blacklegged tick, place it in a ziplock bag and submit it to your local testing agency to see if it’s a Lyme disease carrier. If not, you can kill it by burning or freezing for several hours. I usually flush them down the toilet.
Did you know: A tick has to be attached on your body a minimum of 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease. That means that you should check for ticks daily.
Natural Ways to Keep Ticks Out of Your Yard
First of all it’s important to look at the common places ticks are found:
- Ticks like moist, shady areas
- They usually only come out in temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit
- Ticks live in tall grass and bushes
- If deer come in your yard frequently be on the lookout for deer ticks
- Ticks don’t like dry, sunny areas much
Keep Your Grass Short and Lawn Clean
This is probably the most important and easiest way to keep ticks out of your yard naturally. Ticks like tall grass and they’ll avoid hiding in your yard if the grass is short. Make sure you also take care of weeds around the fence and house.
If you have a large yard focus your efforts on the areas you hang out in the most.
Keep Ticks out of Your Yard by Cleaning up
Like weeds and tall grass, debris and fallen trees are also havens for ticks. Tidy up any unkept or overgrown areas. If you can’t clean it up keep the kids and pets away from these places.
This goes for grass clippings and other moist piles that might be in your yard since these can easily become a great breeding ground for ticks and other pests too.
Create a Barrier
If you have areas you like to hang out or the children play in, you can trying keeping ticks away naturally by laying a barrier around the area. They’re less likely to crawl across a stretch of gravel or wood chips than grass.
This is also good for keeping them out of things like compost bins or out of your yard by applying to the perimeter. Make sure it’s at least 3 feet wide.
Lavender Oil as a Tick Repellant
Lavender oil has been studied as a natural tick repellent. You can use it along with lemongrass, sage, and thyme mixed with water to spray on the grass.
It’s safe for both children and pets, although watch your cats because they can be sensitive. You can even spray lavender oil on dogs and cats, as long as it’s diluted properly.
Try a Tick Tube
It’s not completely natural but they also sell tick traps that are synthetic pesticides derived from natural ingredients. It does help control ticks without spraying harsh chemicals so I would still advocate for their use.
In my opinion, the danger of having frequent ticks in your yard is greater than the danger of using one of these tick traps. As always, keep away from kids and pets.
Keep it off Your Pets
Besides essential oils, there are other natural products for pets to keep ticks away. First of all, avoid eucalyptus oil. It’s safe for people but not as safe for animals. Most flea collars also protect dogs from ticks. By keeping the ticks off your animals you’re less likely to have them brought into your house.
When you come in from being outside make sure to check yourself, your kids, and your pets for ticks. Even with all these preventative measures you still need to watch out for them during the summer.