When I meet people for the first time, during the small talk phase the subject of jobs tends to come up. When I tell someone that I own an IPM company by their reaction I know one of two things, they are in the business or they are not. IPM stands for integrated pest management, and no, that doesn't mean I get rid of mice, ants or raccoons that fall down people's fireplaces! When the latter occurs I give a standard canned line that my company offers organic tick sprays, no film deer repellents and I run through our line of services. The product people always want to discuss next is ticks and how often they should spray. My reply is: fall is the most important, followed by spring, followed by summer. A fall tick spray seems to always puzzle folks about why this time of year is critical. Read on!
Why have my yard sprayed for ticks in the fall?
Ticks mate in the late spring and summer, that is to say that during the fall the female ticks are pregnant and they stay that way all winter long. When the first thaw of spring arrives those pregnant ticks hatch more ticks. The baby ticks from early spring are called nymphs. The nymphs are dangerous because they are the size of a sharpened pencil tip. A fall tick spray eliminates and reduces the overall tick population. Reducing the population in your yard is the key. I'll repeat it again, reducing the population, if anyone promises to reduce the tick population in your yard to zero ticks you have found a miracle worker and should ask for tonight's powerball numbers. Below I'll get into how the ticks are making it into your yard and why zero is not an achievable number.
Why types of diseases do ticks carry?
Ticks are vectors for all types of disease, most famous in Connecticut is Lyme disease. They can carry bacterial infections, Ehrlichiosis (http://www.cdc.gov/ehrlichiosis/) , Human babesiosis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11113258) and auto immune disorders too. It is widely thought that the majority of tick bites go unreported to doctors each year therefore the CDC can not accurately account for how else tick bites affect humans and pets.
How can I protect myself, my family and my pets?
The age old adages are still the best alternatives to traditional pesticides which I'll write about next week. When doing yard work or enjoying a fall hike make your best effort to completely cover your arms and legs with long sleeves and long pants. Any professional landscaper or IPM applicator on your property comes to work in long pants for a reason, even on 90 degree days. They know this is the best way to protect themselves. Wear light colored clothing, black might soak up the sun on a chilly fall walk or make you look 10 pounds lighter, but that's exactly how you won't spot a tick! Check yourself prior to entering your home or car after a hike or exposure within 20 feet of a wooded area or vectors for ticks. Keep a small inexpensive magnifying glass in your car, mudroom or first point of entry to your home to look for nymphs. Lastly, teach your children with eagle eyes what ticks look like and how to spot them. Children are often most susceptible as ticks look at everything like a heat seeking missile. Children are typically running around in the yard and maintain the highest of body temperatures. That coupled with their thin soft skin makes them a prime target.
How do tick re-enter my property after a spray?
Ticks re-enter on pets, people and small mammals such as chipmunks and birds. These are the daytime animals that might be re-entry vehicles but at night there are more mammals: deer, raccoons and skunks which come through your property while you are asleep. Did you know the average deer carries 500 ticks?
It's never a question in Connecticut of if you are near a tick because you are, the question is: Are you investing in your safety by protecting yourself, your family and your pets? Reducing the overall population is the key, if your neighbor sprays, you should spray and visa versa. You need to work as a team to protect the neighborhood.
Stacy Skoldberg is managing partner of GreenSprays an IPM company dedicated to organic and natural solutions. In her free time she enjoys gardening and playing with her twins. Stacy can be reached at: 203-916-3666 or firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on FB: GreenSprays or Twitter: @ greenspraysllc.