Preventing and Treating Ticks Naturally
by Maureen Wise, on May 2, 2022
Ticks are parasitic arthropods that feed on the blood of mammals. (What a gross sentence!) They’re kind of like tiny vampires that can give their hosts debilitating diseases. It's fair to say that everyone wants to prevent getting a tick attached to their body, their kids or their pets. We are happy to share some Earth-friendly ways to prevent ticks in your backyard, without chemicals that can be harmful to beneficial insects, pollinators, pets, kids and waterways.
Both in Ohio and Indiana, there are three types of ticks that are active: American Dog Ticks (Dermacentor Variabilis), Lone Star Ticks (Amblyomma Americanum), and Black Legged Ticks (Ixodes Scapularis) (also sometimes called Deer Ticks). Ohio also has Brown Dog Ticks (Rhipicephalus Sanguineus), which are much less common. Ticks can cause Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, human monocytic ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and babesiosis – many of which are long-term debilitating diseases.
Ticks do not fly or jump but are good climbers. They often scale trees or tall grasses and then fall onto unsuspecting prey. Ticks bite people, deer, dogs, rodents and other mammals, and then attach themselves onto the prey and suck their blood, engorging their bodies.
If you find an attached tick, it should be removed properly and calmly, without tearing out the sucking parts that may remain in the host’s body. Forceps or tweezers can do the job well. Do not try to burn or suffocate the tick. Once a tick is removed, it’s a good idea to take a picture of it and keep it in a sealed plastic baggie so it can be identified later. A tick needs to be attached to a host for several hours to pass on any diseases. There are numerous tick identifying websites (including one from the CDC) and there are also medical “anecdotes” to a tick bite that can negate any disease that the tick might pass on. Contact your doctor for more information.
It’s recommended to do a tick check with a buddy after being outside for any length of time on both people and pets. Wearing hats, tucking in shirts, and wearing long pants are all easy ways to prevent ticks from finding bare skin on which to attach. Another best practice is to wear light-colored clothing so that you can physically see ticks easier.
Preventative Natural Tick Treatments
First, reduce tick habitat. Keep your lawn mowed and reduce brush piles or large piles of leaves. Ticks are attracted to undisturbed areas. Reducing the amount of deer and rodents that can enter your yard is also a best practice to reduce ticks.
One of the services that Good Nature Organic Lawn Care provides is our Yard Bug Barrier. This natural treatment repels and reduces ticks, fleas, ants and mosquitoes. We provide four to six treatments with this program using plant-based oils including cedar, garlic and peppermint. We’ve seen great success in reducing nuisance insects with this program.
If you’d like to go the DIY route with natural bug treatments, we recommend Benesafe Solutions. Their system is safe for kids and pets, as well as pollinators and waterways. Not only are their products plant-based, but they are made in the USA by a minority and woman-owned company, which we love.
Additionally, you may want to consider using Neem Oil in your yard. Neem is a product of Neem trees, evergreens found in the tropics. Neem Oil and Neem Cakes can also help you to rid your yard of grubs, or the larvae of Japanese Beetles, ticks, and other unwanted insects.
Nematodes are another Organic Lawn Care product that you may already be using. Nematodes are microscopic soil organisms. Some help your lawn stay healthy and others do not. We sell Dormant Beneficial Nematodes that you can apply to your lawn with a sprayer attached to your hose. Not only will your soil be healthier (meaning your grass will be too), but you’ll see fewer grubs, ticks and other unfriendly bugs in your lawn.
We also like to use a preventative Neem Oil pet shampoo on dogs and outdoor cats. This shampoo easily penetrates the fur and keeps the skin soft. We sell and recommend Parker Organic Neem Pet Shampoo and use it on our own pets throughout the Summer. There are also vaccines available for dogs against tick-related diseases.
Additionally, Cedar Granules are another great tick and unfriendly-bug repellant. Sprinkle them in areas where your yard is more “wild” to discourage them from entering your property in general.
There has been some talk about Biological Controls against ticks such as predators, parasites for ticks themselves and pathogenic fungi that would attack ticks. Although these are all exciting and natural ideas, few are widely used yet.
Ticks can be a bit scary and threatening because they are so small and not easy to spot. However, we can be diligent against their attack and prevent them in our own properties using natural methods. Please reach out if you have any questions about our services, products or general content.