Tick control: Change your yard from host to inhospitable

    Consumer Reports News: August 06, 2010 12:18 PM

    The hot, humid weather we've been having lately is made to order for ticks. The dot-sized parasites also thrive in long grass and other vegetation that may be growing out of control on your property. It's a problem because ticks are second only to mosquitoes in transmitting disease. The ailments can be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.

    StopTicks_250px Tick-borne diseases can be found throughout the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For example, Lyme disease, first discovered in Connecticut in the early 1970s, has since spread to every state except Hawaii. In 2008, state health departments reported 28,921 confirmed cases and 6,277 probable cases of Lyme disease to the CDC—a five percent increase over the previous year.

    So how to protect yourself and your family? The agency recommends using landscaping techniques to create a tick-safe zone around your home.
    • Create a clearly defined, manicured border. A dry wood chip, tree bark, mulch, or gravel barrier between woods and lawn can reduce tick migration into the lawn.
    • Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of lawns.
    • Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
    • Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
    • Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.
    • Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from yard edges and trees.

    If you're unfortunate enough to get bitten by a tick, the sooner you remove it the less likely it is to infect you. Grip the tick with fine-tipped tweezers as close to your skin as possible. Don't crush the tick's body, which might release bacteria.  Pull the tick gently but firmly off your skin. Wipe the area with an antiseptic. Read more about Lyme Disease on our Health website. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station also offers information on tick management.

    For more outdoor projects and products see our Lawn and Yard Guide.

    —Mary H.J. Farrell

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