Ticks and Mosquitos

The global effect of climate change is that more vulnerable species disappear in favor of more resilient species, like ticks and mosquitos. Mosquitos and ticks are a serious health threat, and the chances are that the number of these types of pests will increase in the future. So what is the best way to deal with these pests?

Tick Management

With our fragmented yards and lawns we have created an ideal habitat for deer and white footed mice, the greatest carriers of ticks. A lack of natural predators, globalism and the rise of temperatures have caused an explosion in tick-borne illnesses.

Many landscaping companies have started to offer tick control services. Applying chemicals in our yards for ‘tick prevention’  has become a multi million dollar business. Yet, there is NO evidence that spraying individual yards with pesticides does reduce tick–borne illness. The truth is, there are no fool-proof strategies. When we spend time outdoors, we need to do daily body checks. Checking yourself every day when you undress is a good way to prevent infection.

Learning more about Ticks

Action against tick needs to start with the management of deer and the white footed mice. Without natural predators to keep the deer numbers down, we, as humans, need to step up.

To reduce the number of white footed mice we have to support a healthy population of predators, such as snakes, bird of prey, coyotes, foxes. Invasive Japanese Barberry shrubs provide safe nesting space for the mice and should be removed wherever possible. Also, birds, guinea hens and opossums are known to eat ticks, and should be encouraged to visit our yards. How? by creating a healthy insect population.

As mentioned, no relation between tick-borne illnesses and specific measurements exist, but here are some common and safe recommendations:

Assign a  portion of your yard for entertainment. Choose a sunny area and keep the vegetation short. If you have a small lawn you can consider to border this area with a gravel path. These “barriers” seem to deter white footed mice from entering that specific area.

Promising results have been found with rodent bait boxes that coat rodents with fipronil (the same type of toxin as used in Frontline) and a natural fungus-based spray. Results of a five year long research will be in at the end of 2020. To learn more about this research, visit the Cary Institute click here>

Applying an effective tick repellent on your skin or clothing, is one of the best ways to protect yourself. Scientifically proven effective deterrents are: DEET, IR3535, Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus and 2-undecanone (oil from the leaves and stems of the wild tomato plan).

Natural Mosquito Management

A healthy environment, including cleaner water and air, improves the number of natural predators, like frogs, fish and bats, that can keep the mosquito population at bay.

Our conventional lawn management, regretfully, has a detrimental effect on those predators and especially on amphibians. In order to fight mosquitoes, we need to invest in the health of those natural predators. This means promoting Healthy Yards practices and discouraging conventional lawn care methods.

When a mosquito infestation is getting out of hand, mechanical, organic or toxin-free options are usually available. But be aware that “toxin free” means that these applications are safe for humans. we have to be aware that if mosquito larvae are killed, other larvae will also be killed, including those of beneficial insects, that help us, by eating mosquitos.

Rather than spraying the yard with an insecticide, consider a deterrent, and make sure mosquitoes cannot enter the home. Fans are very effective for outdoor seating areas. Mosquitoes can reproduce in tiny amounts of standing water, and even in moisture around plants. Limit unnatural breeding areas, like tires and buckets. Mosquito dunks can be used in bird baths and rain barrels, and are safe for fish, birds and other wildlife, but not for other aquatic larvae like the mosquito-eating dragonflies.

For more information about mosquito management please visit www.beyondpesticides.org click here >