DETROIT – Ticks are a growing threat in Michigan.
While we emphasize things like using insect repellents and wearing long pants to reduce the chances of getting bitten, there are things you can also do to reduce their numbers in the your own backyard.
There is a whole lot of different ways to minimize ticks in the environment. For starters, ticks rely on the blood of different animals, including humans, to grow and reproduce. So one way to reduce tick exposures is to manage the critters carrying them.
"Deer are really the 'Big Kahuna' with ticks," said Mark Vanderwerp, the manager of education at Rose Pest Solutions. "It can be a thrill to see a beautiful fawn walking through the yard but when you realize these very animals may be leaving ticks in your yard as they pass through, it suddenly takes on some new meanings."
Reducing the deer in your yard is not easy. But repellent sprays and fencing can help. Ticks also can hitch a ride on smaller animals, so you should pay attention to rodents, too.
"I'm not telling anyone you have to kill all the animals in your area but you probably do want to make it a little less pleasant for them to nest right up against your structure, because that's not where you want ticks," said Vanderwerp.
Landscaping also can have an impact on your chances of having ticks in your yard.
"Grass is a great thing for tick management. Any time you have low or no foliage, it's gonna be unfriendly to ticks," said Vanderwerp.
Landscape barriers, like mulch or pea gravel, between wooded areas and your lawn are helpful. Put play structures or seating even further from that barrier.
"If you have a mown lawn, and you can put that swing set, for instance, on a wood chip or a stone bed that's at least three yards from the edge of the lawn, you're in very good shape for minimizing ticks," said Vanderwerp.
Finally, pesticides can help.
"I know the drawback with sprays is a lot of people don't want to put a pesticide in the environment. But you have to keep in mind, this is really selective areas where you're treating," said Vanderwerp.
He said this is something homeowners can do themselves, but a professional can offer some expertise.
"Probably the biggest reason you want to call a professional is not because of the special materials as far as sprayables go, but the expertise of where to apply them," he said.