Last summer we purchased a 23 acre property in central Maine. It's a mix of wooded and open spots as it was logged within the last five years. We walked the property in June, July and August and only came up with one or two ticks. However, we just went to camp out at the property this past weekend and found it was absolutely infested with ticks. One step out of the car and we were each covered in five ticks. We could see them waiting to get picked up by a tasty leg from the ends of the grasses and shrubs. This is obviously a huge concern for us especially if it's going to reoccur like this every year.
I know trying to keep the grasses cut low might help but the property will be difficult to mow as the terrain is uneven in spots. What else can we do here? I was thinking some chickens or turkeys could help when we finally move there. Are there an other natural alternatives to keeping the tick population to a minimum? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
Unfortunately I have found that chickens don't really do much for ticks. I'm not sure about turkeys, but guineas will decimate the tick population!! Get yourself about 30 guinea keets, and expect to lose about 30% in the first week as they are very fragile in the first few days of life.
Build them a good predator proof coop. Once they are a month old put them in the coop for 1 month. This will teach them it is home.
After they live in it for a month, to really train them to the coop, start letting them out about 20 minutes before sunset and throw some feed in there. Once they learn to go back into the coop to get the feed once the sun goes down, they will be ready to take care of your ticks.
Other than guineas, possums are the only other animal I know that will put the hurt on the tick population......
Perhaps you could do some things to make your land more attractive to possums? Maybe even contact a local wildlife rehabilitator and offer to let them release possums they have cared for there? Some suggestions here for how to attract possums to your property
"The garden teaches us there is something we are all capable of doing. Only with something so small that can be in everyone's hand can we challenge the empire."
The following are reputed to eat ticks: Praying Mantis, Western Fence Lizard, daddy long legs, quail, partridge, guinea fowl, turkey, frogs, toads , waps. Its a good enough topic to research how a tick "sees" you, heat, light, color, CO2, etc. If you could crack that code it would be a great service to the planet what with the increasingly nasty parasites and fevers they carry.
Early American sources suggest the planting of Pennyroyal as an all purpose bug repellent. But Im not suggesting its tick specific. Pennyroyal is effective against bedbugs which always seemed to me to be at least morphologically similar creatures to ticks.
We live in Washington County. Right now its just dog ticks and yes there are a lot of them. Last year hardly a single one. The deer ticks may show up this month. Last year there were no deer ticks at all even though we have quite a lot of deer that pass through our property. Everyone has a different explanation, but all agree that this is a really bad year so far. Hang in there.
Michael Littlejohn wrote: Its a good enough topic to research how a tick "sees" you, heat, light, color, CO2, etc.
I don't know that they do see you. Seems to me they just lay in wait instead, positioning themselves on grass or branches where an animal or person is likely to pass. They don't really have the ability target and pursue as does something like a mosquito. But around here now days there are so many of them that just going outside in mowed grass is a risk. The sheer numbers of them makes it appear that they can track you but I don't think they can.
I discovered a long time ago that when walking in the woods I actually get less of them by moving through the weeds rather than following trails. When walking with someone else, let them go first.
I've also noticed on a day after a good rain, there are less. I think that is because the rain washes them down from their ambush position and it takes them a little bit to climb back into position.
There have always been ticks here but decades ago they were not really a problem. I remember pulling them off the dogs but had never been bitten by one until a few years ago. There are now many, many more that there were then and many more kinds, I won't speculate as to why. I despise them!
It's been a really bad tick year here too. I have heard in the past that a wet spring leads to more ticks, and we have definitely had that. I may try the idea to spread sulfur from the other threads, just so we don't have to worry so much about our kids getting eaten up in our own yard.
The first day we had no protection and were covered in ticks.
The second day I applied diatomaceous earth to my lower legs while the other person did not. No ticks on me while the other person got ticks. They then applied the DE like I had and they got no more ticks that day.
On the third day neither of us applied DE and we both got ticks.
As with any pest control it will need to be multi-pronged to be effective. And here in Maine the ticks have been particularly numerous this year.
As people have mentioned you can use things like DE (there are some natural sprays that are supposed to help as well) and cutting the brush and grass down shorter. Using some sort of animal like sheep or goats depending on what kind of food you have might help with the cutting. One aspect I had not heard mentioned is reducing the tick's food sources in the areas you want to go. People say cutting the grass helps because ticks like to climb up high to latch on to something. That may be true, but it is also true that a mowed lawn (as opposed to a field) will also have fewer mice, voles, snakes, frogs, etc. They don't have any good place to hide. If there are no short food sources and no tall plants, the ticks will be highly likely to leave or die without finding a host. There is a product (never used it myself) these tick tubes. The concept is the cotton balls are soaked in some sort of insecticide (preferably natural). The mice take the cotton back to line their nest, and any ticks on the mice are killed and do not advance to the next cycle. It wouldn't hurt to try something like that. In that particular case, I think the number of animals in that area would move farther out once it was occupied by humans. This would reduce the tick population and hopefully it too would move out of the immediate area of the humans.
I'm testing nematodes as a tick-control method this year. If it works, the biggest advantage will be that the nematodes keep eating and reproducing as long as there's something to feed them. This is the specific kind I'm using. If they attack other pests like chiggers and earworms like the description says, even better!