By Dr. Dina Richman, Product Development Manager
Let’s hope the 2013 tick population isn’t as bad as last year — but just in case, now is a good time to brush up on tick biology and control:
Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. Eggs develop into larvae, which will crawl onto a host animal and begin feeding on its blood. After the larva is engorged, it drops off the animal and emerges as a nymph in a few weeks. The nymph repeats the process — and adult ticks repeat the process, as well.
When not attached to a host, ticks spend most of their lives in the environment, living under leaves or rocks, inside rodent burrows or within crevices. Adult female ticks can lay clusters of hundreds, or even thousands of eggs in protected cracks and crevices.
Tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease pose serious health threats to humans. More than 20,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year in the U.S., with most in the Northeast and upper Midwest.
In treating a tick infestation, treatment time is critical as nymphs are most abundant from June to August, when people are frequently outdoors enjoying their yards. Mid-May to early June is optimal for treatments, although last year’s warm winter meant some pest management professionals (PMPs) were treating as early as April. In areas where tick and/or disease prevalence is high, PMPs should consider treating in the fall as well, targeting questing ticks.
If ticks have already been found on the property, it is best to treat the entire yard with a spray to knock down the infestation. Follow that with a long residual granule application to prevent reinfestation. Be sure to treat buffer areas next to woods, and spray fences and building siding where ticks are known to hide. If treating in the fall, also target potential overwintering sites such as under siding and landscaping. Note that most tick products are labeled for fleas as well.
For indoor tick control, try a broad label liquid insecticide that is approved for use in and around residential and commercial structures.
Last but not least, don’t forget about you! Apply tick repellents to clothing (preferably long pants and long-sleeved shirts), and wear light colored clothing to make inspection easier.