51 May 7, 2008

Over the last few weeks, there have been an increasing number of people stopping into the store to ask about controlling ticks. The biggest concern with ticks is in regards to Lyme disease. As many of you know, Lyme disease can be a debilitating disease caused by the bite of the deer tick. An increase in the number of deer in our area has lead to an increase in the number of cases of Lyme disease. Many of you are looking for ways to control ticks and lessen your chances of getting Lyme disease. I’ve done some reading up on the subject and will give you a little background and then some suggestions on what you can do to prevent the problem in your yard.


Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferei. Ticks feeding on infected animals spread the disease causing bacteria. The young form of the tick, the larvae and the nymph feed on smaller animals. In our area, the field mouse is one of the animals that act as a source of infection. Ticks feeding on mice give the disease to the mice and future generations of ticks pick up the disease from the mice. The young ticks are usually the ones that spread the disease to us. The young ticks are usually hard to see and can feed on people for the 36 to 48 hours that is needed to spread the infection to humans. Larger adult ticks are usually easier to spot and are most often removed before the tick has the time to feed on humans and transmit the disease. The immature stages of the ticks are active in late spring and early summer. This makes this prime tick season for the transmission of Lyme disease. Lets take a look at some control measures you can use around your home.


Ticks like to live in areas of tall grass and weeds. Cutting back tall weeds and grasses can reduce the places for ticks to live. There are many forms of insecticides that can be applied to grassy areas to kill any ticks. The insecticides come in both granular forms and in liquid forms. Some of the liquid forms are available in hose end sprayers. Insecticides should be applied on a regular basis all through the late spring to early fall. There are some organic sprays that you can apply to the lawn that repel the ticks from the area. The sprays last from 7 to 10 days depending on the rainfall.


An interesting idea in tick control is a product called Damminix. The product comes in tubes. Inside the tubes are cotton balls. The cotton balls are treated with an insecticide called Permethrin. The tubes are placed around your yard. The field mice find the cotton balls and bring them back to their home to use as nesting materials. The oils on the fur of the mouse pick up the insecticide. As the ticks try to attach themselves to the mouse, the Permethrin kills the ticks. The dosage of the insecticide will not harm the mouse. The mouse, in effect, becomes the killer of the ticks rather than the victim of the ticks. If you place the tubes around your yard according to directions, practically 100% of the field mice that live in the area around your home will have the Permethrin on its fur. The tubes come in boxes that cover ½ acre of yard or in boxes that cover 1/8 acre. If you apply the Damminix tubes in the spring and fall, you will put a major dent in the number of ticks that will be in your yard.


Well, onto a nicer subject. Sunday is Mother’s Day. As always plants are a favorite gift for Mom. However a card and a phone call or visit will make Mom just as happy. However, I would rather see you give her some plants!


Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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