Now that the weather has finally warmed up, the first thing on everyone’s mind is getting outside. As much as you may want to get going on gardening or let the kids run around in the grass, it’s important to be aware that warmer months mean it’s high tick season once again, with Connecticut an especially severe region for tick activity. Save for hiding indoors all spring and summer, there are ways that you can protect your family and still enjoy nature. We chatted with Douglas McHale, vice president of JP McHale Pest Management with 35 years in the pest control industry and a degree in entomology and plant pathology from the University of Delaware, for info on just what makes ticks tick.
How would you describe the tick activity in Fairfield County?
Ticks can remain active all year round, however they are most active April through October.
What is something that most people don’t realize about ticks?
A female tick needs a blood meal to lay her eggs. Ticks get infected with Lyme disease by feeding on mice. Although they are called deer ticks, they will feed on many types of animals including birds.
What maintenance techniques do you recommend for people to minimize ticks in their yards?
Cut your lawn on a regular basis and blow leaves away into wooded areas. You should also cut down smaller vegetation along the perimeter of property because ticks like brushy damp areas that don’t receive a lot of sun. Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are more visible on clothes when in wooded areas.
What tick protection options do you offer?
We treat the ecotone area (where the managed turf area meets the woods perimeter) along with brushy shrubs and ground covers where ticks can harbor with an environmentally sensitive product. We normally apply this product once a month when tick activity is high and families and pets are utilizing outdoor spaces. We also specialize in tick reduction programs that target the ticks specifically combined with reducing the mouse population around your home. Mice are responsible for spreading Lyme disease to ticks. This allows us to provide clients with a holistic approach to reducing people’s exposure to tick-borne illnesses.
What can you tell us about your eco-friendly tick protection options?
We can also apply a natural product to repel and kill ticks that are composed of cedar, garlic and peppermint oils.
How can people protect their pets from ticks?
Pets are really exposed to ticks when they enter and rub up against areas that harbor ticks, especially when they wander off a well-manicured lawn into the woods or lower-story plantings.
What tips can parents remember before their children go outside to play?
Children should be educated on environments that harbor Ticks. They should wear light-colored clothing when they are hiking or playing outside. When they return, they should have someone check for ticks that may be on clothes or parts of the body including hair.