Cases of Lyme disease are on the rise as the tick season continues. How can people protect their homes from harmful tick populations?
Tick Season 2018
In early May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared a photo that reminded the public of the seriousness of tick season. The agency tweeted a seemingly normal photo of a muffin with poppy seeds, but upon closer look, one would realize that five of the supposed poppy seeds are actually tiny ticks. The photo did the trick as it garnered various reactions from the public, and was retweeted thousands of times.
Amusing and disturbing as the photo was, it highlighted the seriousness of tick bites and tick-borne diseases, which is especially relevant since cases of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease have been on the rise of late. In fact, according to the CDC, the number of Lyme disease cases has doubled since 2001.
Ticks can be the size of a poppy seed. Can you spot all 5 ticks in this photo? Learn how to prevent tick bites. https://t.co/ATtrY7YFoS pic.twitter.com/gBm4tw2qmf — CDC (@CDCgov) May 4, 2018
Landscaping Against Tick Populations
To prevent tick-borne diseases, it's important to avoid getting tick bites in the first place. As always, people are urged to avoid going to bushy places but if they must, wear protective clothing and always keep an eye out for tick stowaways.
However, ticks may also make their way to homes, especially in yards where the conditions are perfect for tick populations. To protect family and pets from tick bites, it's important to landscape the lawn in such a way that it is not as attractive to ticks.
First of all, it's important to keep the grass low and the leaf litter cleared. This way, there are lesser places for the ticks to hide and thrive in. It's also wise to keep a 3-foot wide protective barrier between the lawn and any surrounding wooded area to prevent ticks from crossing over from the wooded area to the living space.
That said, lawn items such as patio sets or playgrounds must be kept away from yard edges and trees, and in a sunny location if possible. Other furniture such as old mattresses should also be removed so as to lessen the items in which the ticks can hide in, while wood stacks must be kept neatly and in a dry place to reduce the chances of attracting rodents, as they often carry ticks.
While it's also wise to spray on pesticides in the surrounding area to prevent an infestation, it should not be the first line of defense against ticks. Further, it's also important to use EPA-registered insect repellents, or even natural tick repellents such as garlic oil and other essential oils.