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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

A New Spin on Tick Spring Cleaning

Did you know that ticks have a 2-year life cycle and do not die with the first frost? When the weather is consistently below 40 degrees we expect them to become inactive and settle down for a long winters nap, occasionally waking up on a warm winter day. In December, in Hunterdon County, we saw 20 days above 40 degrees and the same holds true for January. It seems odd to think that this winter we saw temperatures in the high sixties and in some places well into the 70’s. Since the winter was a mild one, ticks become active sooner and seek their first blood meal of the season. Although males are intermittent feeders, females will seek a full meal prior to laying approximately 2000-3000 eggs.

Remove Prime Nesting Sites A thorough outside Spring clean up will make your yard less inviting to ticks—especially blood engorged females that are looking to find the perfect place to lay their eggs. Ticks prefer to molt and lay eggs in areas with higher humidity levels. Remove compact leaf and pine litter from your yard. These areas are the ideal place for her to lay her eggs. Both sides of fence lines and behind sheds tend to have a larger accumulation of leaves. Remember, if there’s no place to lay her eggs, she will leave or die without laying, which is preferable!

Remove Attractions for Rodents Since rodents carry a large number of ticks (and the disease itself), remove items that attract them. Put away winter birdfeeders, blow the fallen seed away and get rid of unused seed. If you are reseeding the lawn, be sure to put any leftover seed in a rodent proof container. Also take away their hiding places by removing any accumulated debris from the winter winds that have ended up under your deck, next to trees or berms.

Out of the Brush into the Sun Before you open up the shed to drag out your favorite warm weather furniture and toys, consider that most ticks are found in the first 3 yards of the perimeter of your home where the grass line meets the brush line.  Place items in sunnier, less shady places, where the moisture levels are lower, and away from the brush line.

Move and Secure the Woodpile Since most woodpiles have been depleted, now is a good time to relocate them. Ticks will harbor and molt under the moist tree bark of old logs. Stack wood neatly off the ground, away from the home, and cover it with a tarp, to keep it dry and uninviting to ticks.

Reject Overly Moist Mulch While adding the final touches to your spring cleanup, be careful not to receive overly moist mulch. Just like with moist pine and leaf litter, ticks will harbor in moist mulch that has been delivered to your yard.

Manage Flowering Gardens Consider keeping your flower beds simple, less lush and do not overwater. Compact gardens provide greater coverage for rodents as well as have higher moisture levels.  Using large deer resistant potted plants like hyacinth and daffodils are great in the spring. Once they are finished blooming, you can replace them with other colorful deer resistant annuals. Carry this plan through to fall and you will have colorful planters with a lot less hassle.

Professional Tick Remediation Service Since all landscape environments are not the same, you might consider having a business that specializes in tick remediation manage your yard.

Tick Tackler is family owned, fully insured and licensed by the DEP, and holds pesticide applicator licenses for both residential and school certification. Its service includes a 40 point inspection that helps identify the “hot spots” in your yard and put together a plan that can help minimize the risk to Lyme disease. Service area  includes Eastern Pennsylvania, and most counties in Central and Northern New Jersey. For information contact Jennifer Molzen at 908-612-4736 or [email protected].

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