How can I prevent ticks in my backyard?

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While ticks can live anytime the temperature reaches a certain point—yes, even that balmy week in March can reawaken them—as we head into June and beyond, the hot, humid weather is like an alarm clock going off to signal tick season.

Ticks can carry numerous blood borne diseases including the most well-known Lyme disease that can be harmful to your family and your pets. These nuisances have a tendency to prefer damp, wooded areas, but don't survive well in bright and dry areas.

That being said, here are 10 tips to keep ticks at bay:

1) Avoid ticks' preferred habitation: Ticks are usually found in grassy, wet, shaded areas of your garden and around trees. Stay away from these areas as much as possible.

2) Clear out tick habitats: To get rid of tick-friendly greenery, maintain your yard by trimming and removing all dead vegetation, including leaves, and having your lawn mowed often. Ticks also hate the sun, so create a sunny rather than shady yard environment.

3) Fence in your yard: This prevents large animals from entering your property. Ticks travel on mammals, especially deer and coyotes. Tall "deer fencing" will help lick tick infestation and keep host animals from eating your garden.

4) Keep your firewood carefully stacked in a dry setting: Ticks like to hide in and under woodpiles because they provide dim and damp shelter, so be sure stacked wood is in a dry area of your property.

5) Don’t let your children play in potential tick breeding grounds: Any areas such as playgrounds with tall grass or backyards with many trees should be avoided. Children could very easily pick up a tick and bring it into your home without you detecting it until it attaches.

6) Clean your bird feeders: Ticks like to layer underneath bird feeders, so make sure you periodically rinse them.

7) Check everyone daily for ticks: That means your kids, your pets and yourself after being outdoors, especially after hiking. Ticks can be found in your hairline, on your legs, under your arms—all over. The best way to remove a tick that has attached itself is by pulling its head up and out with a tweezer, without squeezing its body.

8) Take precautions asap: With the humidity kicking up, use approved and known safe pesticide treatments to stop ticks from taking up residence in your lawn. Having a single pesticide treatment applied in late May/early June will cut the tick population by over 50 percent. These good and approved pesticide treatments can be bought for about $8 to $40 at any hardware store:

· Picaridin

· Cyonara LP Granules

· FenvaStar Plus Esfenvalerate

Use bug spray made for just preventing ticks on your clothes and exposed areas of skin:

. Off Deep Wood Sportsman II

· Cutter Backwoods Unscented

· Off FamilyCare Smooth and Dry

· 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8

When applying any repellent, use your hands to apply to your face, and avoid your eyes and mouth. Some work just as well if you spray it just on your clothes. These repellants can be effective for up to 8 hours.

9) If you'd rather try a natural approach, whip up your own citrus-based repellent at home—ticks hate citrus, making it a great defensive treatment:

· Bring two cups of water to a boil.

· Cut into wedges and add two pieces of citrus fruit (any combination of lemons, limes, oranges and/or grapefruit).

· Boil for about a minute, and then simmer for about an hour.

· Strain the liquid (discard the fruit), let it cool and then pour into a 16-ounce spray bottle.

· Spray the liquid on yourself, your children, pets and anywhere around your yard that could harbor ticks.

Other natural repellents are peppermint, lavender and geranium. Grow them liberally to increase your property's protection from ticks.

10) Hire a pro: You don't have to go it alone in your war with ticks. Contact contractors who specialize in landscaping or pest control professionals. Many landscaping companies have staff arborists who focus on tick control, especially deer tick control. Tick control professionals usually provide complimentary consultations; the actual cost of tick treatments will depend on the size of your yard is and what type of treatment you want.

According to the experts at Savatree—The Tree and Scrub Company, which operates in the northeast, professionals can use both organic and traditional treatments for tick management as well as target mice, which often play host to ticks. Savatree arborists use treatments to the "ecotone" area, the zone between lawn areas and wooded areas, which is the favored home of the deer tick, and, if needed, to your lawn area as well. Gonzalo, a specialist from Savatree in Bedford Hills, NY, explains that these treatments are better used when it rains because the ground is softer, making the chemicals absorb faster. Gonzalo adds that back-to-back treatments are often needed during the humid summer season because ticks are so prevalent. If you take all necessary precautions and schedule tick control treatments, you can limit the amount of active ticks and unwanted animals in your yard.

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