How to Prevent Tick Bites and Control Ticks in Your Yard

By: Jenny Gagas

Deer tick

While spring brings sunshine and warm weather, it also brings ticks. When the weather heats up and outdoor activity increases, so do tick bites. Ticks carry and transmit dangerous diseases, like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Your risk of being bitten by an infected tick is highest in the spring and summer. This means it is crucial to know where you can expect to encounter ticks, how to protect yourself from tick bites, and how to control ticks in your yard.

Tick Bite and Disease Prevention

Ticks become infected with diseases when they feed on diseased hosts, and the tick can then pass the disease on to other hosts. Research has shown that a tick usually need to remain attached to the host for 24 hours or more to pass on a disease, so it’s important to detect and remove ticks as soon as possible.

To protect yourself from tick bites:

  • Know where to find ticks. Ticks do not fly or jump. Instead, they hang out on shrubs, bushes, and tall grass waiting for hosts to brush against the vegetation so the tick can hitch a ride. Wooded areas are often dense with ticks.
  • Tick crawling on skin.

  • When spending time in any areas where ticks might be present, wear long pants and long sleeves, if possible, and tuck your pant cuffs into your socks to prevent ticks from clinging to and getting under pants or socks. Wearing light colored clothing can help you spot ticks more easily.
  • Stay close to the center of paths and hiking trails to avoid brushing against foliage containing ticks.
  • Repellents are great for tick protection. DEET, the most powerful repellent, works well against ticks, but in high concentrations of DEET can irritate skin and it cannot be used on young children. Another option is to purchase repellents that can be applied directly to clothing and last through a few washings. Protecting clothes and exposed skin will help create a tick barrier.
  • Tick checks are the most important thing you can do after spending time in brushy or wooded areas. Since tick bites are rarely felt, it can be hard to know if ticks have latched onto your skin. Make sure to do a thorough visual exam, particularly on underarms, ears, waist, behind knees, scalp and hair, and between legs.
  • If you do find an embedded tick on your body, use tweezers to grasp it tightly by the head and pull it straight out. The head of the tick has the potential to pass on disease, so make sure to remove it with the rest of the tick.

Underbrush in wooded area of yard.

Tick Control: Creating a Tick-Free Zone

Protecting yourself from ticks when hiking or camping is one thing, but thinking of ticks when relaxing in your backyard is another.

You don’t have to douse yourself in repellent every time you want to spend time outdoors. Instead, managing your yard and landscape to make the environment unsuitable for ticks can control populations and discourage ticks in your area.

To create a tick-free zone in your yard:

  • Keep bushes, shrubs, and tall grasses away from patios, play areas, and any other frequently used areas in your yard since this is where ticks wait for hosts.
  • Regularly clean up any lawn debris, such as piles of brush and leaves, since they can provide shelter for potential tick host animals. The host animal passes the disease to the ticks, so keeping wildlife out of your yard will cut back on infected ticks.
  • Mowing grass in lawn.

  • Keep grass mowed and trimmed short.
  • Pay special attention to the edges of your property, especially if you live near wooded or highly vegetated areas. Trim plants to prevent them from hanging over into your property.
  • Alternatively, you can create a barrier with woodchips, gravel, or other materials on the edges of your property.
  • Try to keep cats and dogs out of wooded areas. Always check pets for ticks every day if they spend time outdoors, and consider using a tick treatment especially in spring and summer.
  • Deer are common carriers of diseases that infect ticks, so limiting and controlling deer can also help reduce ticks in your area.

Tick Control Products

Using chemical treatments in combination with landscape management can make your property virtually tick free, as well as cutting back on other bothersome insects.

There are a wealth of professional grade tick control products available to homeowners, from traditional barrier sprays to long lasting repellents, to allow you to find the product you need.

About the Author

Jenny Gagas is a home and garden writer living in Wisconsin who loves to spend as much time outdoors as possible. She mostly writes about gardening, and really enjoys teaching people how to interact with their surroundings in a safe and sustainable way. If she’s not outside, she’s in the kitchen, developing recipes to share with family and friends.

Print


Comments

Please Leave a Comment

7 Comments on “How to Prevent Tick Bites and Control Ticks in Your Yard”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.


  • Elaine Uhlhorn Says:
    July 27th, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    I just bought 4 acres 28th a deweling on 1 acre to live in. The last owners had four dogs. And there was a deer in the yard when I returned to the land the day I bought it. There are so many ticks. Every time my two small dogs and I go out into the yard I check for ticks and there are always at least one on each of us. I now leave a small hard brushless the door along with some Cutters, spray and a spray container of anti itch. Before entering the house I swich our deer and legs and cheap for ticks. Then I spray us with the Cutters and anti itch liquids if I see a tick or feel the dogs went to far into the edge of the woods to maybe get a tick. This has cut down on the hitch tickets (ticks) a lot. Enjoy the beauty of your paradise!!!!



  • Maria Says:
    May 4th, 2014 at 3:55 am

    Hello Marlene
    Sory I’m writing late just overcame the flu also thank you I love Lavender is this a smell deer do not like? Because every spring our bushes are a light Lavender color we bought this house and all kind of trees, bushes, flowers,and plants is all over. Lot of Berries trees we thought the last owner loved birds because of all the berries tree.

    Yes the deers are a lot around this area with deer signs everywhere. I don’t mind the deers only the ticks, I thought about using thick Vaseline to coat my skin hoping no ticks could cling on.We do have a large cover tent with a screen we use every summer, so far the deers have not invite their self inside. plus I spray rubbing alcohol with water on the poles and covering this seem to keep the small bugs away, and with the fresh air the smell evaporate So far this method haven harm us.

    If we had money a indoor patio with lot of window would be nice to look at the outdoor I wish I could send a photo of my backyard it like nature in a smaller scale. This was the main reason we bought our home.

    Thank for writing,
    Maria



  • Marlene Says:
    April 28th, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I live with deer as there is no way to keep them away…I loath tics and usually dont go out in spring but..this year I put lavender oil in my bath wash…lavender shampoo and lavender in clothes wash…then I have one pair of pants that are elastic around ankles I spray with off and dont wash but a couple times in summer…so far so good this year and before I did that I had 2 tics…


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    March 25th, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Maria,
    Deer will eat almost anything. Most homeowners are busy trying to find out what kind of plants deer won’t eat, but you can find a list of both what deer enjoy and what they aren’t as crazy about in this article http://www.todayshomeowner.com/how-to-landscape-your-yard-with-deer-resistant-plants/
    Thank you for your interest!



  • Maria Says:
    March 25th, 2014 at 2:53 am

    Hello Jenny
    Thank you for the information I think I will plant the plants near the back of my yard, more closer to the wood like a good distant away from my house and gardening area.
    What kind of plants do deers like to eat? Every Christmas we hang red apples on a very large tree branch that was knock down by the wind. I guess the deers or some other outdoor animal enjoy the treat because they were gone after 2 days.
    So if their are other healthy plants could you tell me what kind. Also I do enjoy feeding our outdoor wild small birds, we have 2 squirrel. We hang out dried corn on the cobs, also peanut for the chipmunk and cats treats that roam the wood area, since I have a large wood area and I mean huge. I do keep all the animals food far away from our home, I just enjoy the outdoor life of seeming them at a distant. Oh, my husband said no fence it would take away the beauty of the woods.
    Thank you from Maria



  • Jenny Gagas Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Maria,
    You could try deer repellent products (which are safe for animals) around the perimeter of your yard or planting plants deer love around the perimeter of your yard, which might encourage them to stay on the edge of your hard. A fence is a great option, too, and obviously very effective. If you have a large property or yard, though, installing a fence can quickly become very expensive.

    However, since you are in a wooded area and deer are plentiful, the ticks will probably be lurking about anyways. Using a tick repellent, wearing appropriate attire, and doing thorough tick checks every time you enjoy your yard should keep you safe from any tick diseases.

    -Jenny Gagas @ domyownpestcontrol.com



  • Maria Says:
    March 14th, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Hello
    I live in a wooded area and the deers are plenty around my backyard, by law they are free to roam so should I get a fence? No problem they keep to themselves but ticks do frighten me, because I love outdoor and gardening is my joy.
    Thank you


We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.