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Al Loria
Posts: 395
Location: New York
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In the part of New York where we live there is a particular problem with Deer Ticks carrying Lyme disease.  According to suggested mowing practices, to eliminate Deer ticks you are supposed to mow low.  As low as you can.  The theory was to dry out the ticks, as they do not drink water, but absorb it, and high grass is higher in water content and low grass and sun will dry the ticks out.  After finding this forum I am now using the highest setting on the mower and getting about 4" of height on the back lawn. The front lawn is filling in a bit now and will be mowed to the same height.  We have four small dogs who play on the lawn, besides the rest of our family. 

My question, is, does anyone know a way to lower the population, or keep away altogether, Deer Ticks, without using chemicals. 

We have used Frontline on the dogs, and after our family physician told us the other day it causes seizures in dogs, we don't want to use it anymore.  Yes, you read correctly, our family physician, not the Vet.  The Vet sells Frontline by the way.

I don't know if food grade DE would work in this instance because the tick would have plenty of time to attach itself before the DE did its job.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Frontline is Fipronil, it screws with the GABA receptor and Fipronil poisoning will cause seizures, but that is in case of an overdose. There was actually a product that contained higher doses of Fipronil (which I always want to spell with an nyl, had to look it up to spell it right) than frontline and had to be yanked from the market because it was causing dogs to seize. Too much glucose will cause a dog to seize eventually too, but removing all glucose from their diet will kill them (because literally everything that is not or was once alive has glucose in it in some concentration) but I digress.

The best way to control ticks is with Guinea Fowl. They eat the ticks before the ticks get a chance to bite you. Deer ticks (maybe all ticks) go through three instars (sizes of immature insect), each one progresses to the next with a blood meal. So the really ultra tiny ticks (might be too small for the guineas to effectively eat) are actually safe, because they have never bitten anything with lyme and there for are not inoculated. That leaves two potentially dangerous blood meals left. The second meal is not as dangerous as the third (because by the third they have had two chances to draw an infected victim) so as the ticks get more dangerous they also get more conspicuous and more likely to be eaten.

The problem is that they are noisy, especially if you leave them out at night to roost in a tree. noisy and stupid.
 
Al Loria
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Location: New York
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Emerson White wrote:
Frontline is Fipronil, it screws with the GABA receptor and Fipronil poisoning will cause seizures, but that is in case of an overdose. There was actually a product that contained higher doses of Fipronil (which I always want to spell with an nyl, had to look it up to spell it right) than frontline and had to be yanked from the market because it was causing dogs to seize. Too much glucose will cause a dog to seize eventually too, but removing all glucose from their diet will kill them (because literally everything that is not or was once alive has glucose in it in some concentration) but I digress.

The best way to control ticks is with Guinea Fowl. They eat the ticks before the ticks get a chance to bite you. Deer ticks (maybe all ticks) go through three instars (sizes of immature insect), each one progresses to the next with a blood meal. So the really ultra tiny ticks (might be too small for the guineas to effectively eat) are actually safe, because they have never bitten anything with lyme and there for are not inoculated. That leaves two potentially dangerous blood meals left. The second meal is not as dangerous as the third (because by the third they have had two chances to draw an infected victim) so as the ticks get more dangerous they also get more conspicuous and more likely to be eaten.

The problem is that they are noisy, especially if you leave them out at night to roost in a tree. noisy and stupid.


Thanks, Emerson.

I belonged to a club that had tried Guinea hens to control ticks.  They are stupid.  Supposedly, they would never roam too far away from where they were kept or roosted. Ours managed to dwindle from 7 to 0 in a few short months.

Other than the Guinea Fowl, (my suburban neighbors and town government wouldn't allow it) any other suggestions?

Al
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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I think some heavy deposits of diatomaceous earth might do the ticks in, but you will also wipe out any other soilbound arthropods (it just dawned on me that ticks aren't insects) along with them. To my knowledge guineas or similar fowl are the only effective non-chemical means of tick control. I could give you a list of chemical pesticides that would do the trick, but you wouldn't be interested if you knew what else they will do. You could kill all the deer in your area ... that would work. I think there is a parasitic ichneumon wasp that is being studied, but I don't know enough about it to tell you.

Ticks are a tough one.

I have heard that guineas can be surgically devocalized.
 
Al Loria
Posts: 395
Location: New York
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Unfortunately we have a law requiring 2 acres for having any form of livestock, chickens, etc.  I only have a little more than a quarter acre, so the Guineas would not be an option.  I now there is a Lyme vaccine for dogs, but not sure if it is a safe alternative for them either.  I will have to check that out further. 


Thanks again.

 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Call me weird, but I'm more concerned about people than I am about dogs, what happens to you when you pick up a tick?
 
Al Loria
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Location: New York
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You are not weird.  It can cause flu like symptoms at first, then if not treated with antibiotics, can cause arthritis, severe neurological problems and a host of other major problems.  A nasty disease.

I've been bit 3 times by a Deer Tick and fortunately have not gotten the disease.  they usually have to be attached for over 24 hours and when they regurgitate they give you the bacterium.
 
paul wheaton
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Another thought is to just not have grass.

I wonder if there are things you can plant in the grass that would be happy to be mowed and would discourage ticks.

 
Al Loria
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Location: New York
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paul wheaton wrote:
Another thought is to just not have grass.

I wonder if there are things you can plant in the grass that would be happy to be mowed and would discourage ticks.




I certainly would dump the lawn if there could be an alternative that would be very low growing.  I attended a seminar once that an entomologist from the Dept. of Environmental Conservation in NYS had given.  The DEC has always recommended mowing to one inch to dry out the Deer Ticks bodies.  The Cooperative Extension at Cornell univ.of NY recommends to use the 3-4 inch cut as you have said.  The two entities are obviously on two different pages and no other solution except low grass cutting and chemical sprays seem to be used.  I don't know of any Deer Tick resistant plants except I have read that Rose Geranium oil works on the dogs and people to ward off the ticks.

The problem is the Tick will stand on a blade of grass and wait for a passing CO2 emitting mammal to pass, then attach itself.  Ticks do not drink, so they get their body moisture hanging in tall grasses and underbrush.  When they dry out on a blade of grass, they simply drop off and rehydrate.

A tough problem to solve, and I am open to suggestions of using plants instead of lawn.  It is the front lawn where the dogs play, and I don't care what the neighbors think about plants in place of lawn.
 
paul wheaton
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Take this up in the organic forum.

Most of the brains on this site don't come down to the lawn care forum because lawns are not their thing. 

But I would like to learn about solutions to reducing deer tick issues.

 
Al Loria
Posts: 395
Location: New York
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paul wheaton wrote:
Take this up in the organic forum.

Most of the brains on this site don't come down to the lawn care forum because lawns are not their thing. 

But I would like to learn about solutions to reducing deer tick issues.





Will do.
 
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