Lyme Disease Prevention
Check Your Skin and Clothes for Ticks Every Day
Remove ticks from your clothes before going indoors. To kill ticks that you may have missed, wash your clothes with hot water and dry them using high heat for at least one hour.
Be sure to perform daily tick checks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Inspect all parts of your body carefully including your armpits, scalp, and groin. Remove ticks immediately using a fine-tipped tweezer (see Tick Removal).
If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small. But just to be safe, monitor your health closely after a tick bite and be alert for any signs and symptoms of tick-borne illness (see Lyme Disease Symptoms).
Apply Pesticides to Control Ticks
A pesticide designed to kill ticks is sometimes called an acaricide. Acaricides can be very effective in preventing Lyme disease by reducing tick populations. If properly timed, a single application at the end of May or beginning of June can reduce tick populations by 68-100 percent.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and your state determine the availability of pesticides. Check with local health officials about the best time to apply acaricide in your area, as well as any rules and regulations related to pesticide application on residential properties. You can also contact a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home.
Create a Tick-Safe Zone
Using landscaping techniques to create a tick-safe zone around homes, parks, and recreational areas may help to prevent Lyme disease.
Ticks that transmit Lyme disease thrive in humid, wooded areas. They die quickly in sunny and dry environments. Here are some simple landscaping techniques to help reduce tick populations and enhance prevention of the disease:
- Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of lawns.
- Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration to recreational areas.
- Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
- Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
- Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.
- Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
Ticks that transmit Lyme disease can be found on deer. Actions to control deer movement or populations in communities are usually initiated at the local level in consultation with your state's wildlife agency. However, there are actions you can take at your property that may help reduce deer populations around your home. For example:
- Do not feed deer on your property. It may be necessary to remove bird feeders and clean up spilled birdfeed.
- Construct physical barriers to discourage deer from entering your yard.
- Check with garden centers, nurseries, or local extension agents to learn about deer-resistant plants.
New Tools for Tick Control
Bait boxes that treat wild rodents with acaricide (insecticide that kills ticks) are now available for home use. Properly used, these boxes have been shown to reduce ticks around homes by more than 50 percent. The treatment is similar to products used to control fleas and ticks on pets; it does not harm the rodents. Bait boxes are available from licensed pest control companies in many states.