Over 800 species of bloodsucking, Lyme disease-carrying ticks exist worldwide. For highly infested areas, tick-killing pesticides serve as a harsh but effective remedy. Though these pesticides come in a variety of forms, they should all be used with caution. Before choosing a pesticide solution, you can ward off ticks by using repellents and trimming back high grass, weeds and undergrowth around the yard.
When prevention and non-toxic methods fail, chemical pesticides kill ticks on contact. Pesticide treatment caters to areas with high levels of tick infestation. Applied to tick-infested areas, pesticides kill inhabiting ticks and act as a barrier or buffer zone for new ticks. Though most tick-killing pesticides share common ingredients, they come in two main forms--liquid and granular. Liquid pesticides target ticks that inhabit open spaces, while granular varieties penetrate dense, hard-to-reach areas such as leaf piles to attack hatching, moulting or wintering ticks.
Anti-tick pesticides commonly come in three classes--carbamates, pyrethroids and pyrethrums. Carbamates contain carbaryl and propoxur, which causes paralysis in ticks. Pyrethoids, which contain synthetic pyrethins, kill new tick strains. These pesticides feature low levels of mammalian toxicity. Similar pyrethrums also use pyrethins, a type of plant extract. However, mild pyrethrums break down quickly, so pest control professionals generally use this type of pesticide indoors. Cyfluthrin, esfenvalerate, eugenol and tetrachlorvinphos fight outdoor tick infestations. Pesticides containing amitraz, fipronil and selamectin help control ticks on dogs.
Consider tick-killing pesticides only as a last resort, and give due thought to hiring a professional for the application of toxic pesticides. In fact, some pesticides are made strictly for use by licensed professionals. Get your property sampled by a professional before applying chemical pesticides. Tick-killing pesticides may cause harm to children, adults and pets alike if used improperly. Pesticides have been linked to brain damage, endocrine system complications and some types of cancer.
Tick drags, pieces of tick-collecting flannel dragged over vegetation, serve as a practical and non-toxic pesticide alternative, as do dry ice-based carbon dioxide traps. Prevention may eliminate the need for pesticides. Prevent ticks from contacting your skin by wearing long shirts, long trousers and hats and tucking your pant legs into your boots. Apply a tick repellent with DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) to your skin and a repellent containing permethrin to your clothes. Check your clothes for ticks before entering the home and keep pets out of tick-prone areas, especially during the warm months. Always check pets for ticks before they enter the house.
- USACHPPM: Tick Control Around the Home
- State of Connecticut; Tick Management Handbook; Kirby C. Stafford III
- University of Delaware Cooperative Extension; Tick Control; Dewey M. Caron; April 2004
- North Carolina State University; A Scout's Guide to Basic Cotton Terminology; J.S. Bachelor; May 1994
- Environmental Protection Agency: Active Ingredients Found in Insect Repellents
- Beyond Pesticides: Least-toxic Control of Ticks