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 grow in the future. Many homeowners ask the help of their landscaper to deal with mosquitos and ticks. What is the best service you can offer?
Fragmented yards and lawns have created an ideal habitat for deer and small rodents, the carriers of ticks. Ticks have become a very concerning problem and can cause several serious illnesses. Many landscaping companies have started to offer tick-control services, but the truth is, there are no foolproof strategies, and as a landscaper, you should advise homeowners to keep on doing body checks.
If you have a small lawn you can consider a cedar oil application, or another organic solution, and/or border the lawn with a gravel path. These “barriers” deter rodents, which carry the ticks, from entering your yard. Be aware that pesticides, both conventional and organic, also kill the beneficial insects in your yard. If you have few insects in your yard you will deter natural predators of ticks, such as birds. The best option is to keep a short mown area, in a sunny location, where you will be using the lawn for entertainment. Avoid going into the areas that ticks prefer: bushy, moist parts of the yard.
Promising results have been found with rodent bait boxes or tick tubes that coat rodents with fipronil (the same type of toxin as used in Frontline) or permethrin with the use of cotton balls that are treated with the same solution, and which the rodents will take into their nests. Another approach are ‘4-poster’ deer treatment feeders.
It is very important to attract birds into your yard. Smaller birds eat ticks, and predator birds eat the rodents that carry the ticks. Make sure you never use rodent toxins: those toxins kill the predator birds that eat the rodents, which creates an even bigger problem. If you have a rodent problem use a mechanical trap.