Ticks Should Be Controlled Outside, in Your Yard
By Chris Williams on June 28, 2014.
Outdoor Tick Question
I’ve found a couple of little brown ticks on my kids and I found one crawling around downstairs. I’ve tried to get an exterminator to spray our house for ticks but no one will do it. Why? How are we supposed to get rid of them?—L. B., Boylston, MA
Tick Control and Extermination Answer
Pest control companies will not treat your home because the hard ticks you describe are not indoor pests, and spraying would have no effect on the ticks. Ticks remained attached to their host and would not come in contact with any insecticide treatment. Your children (and maybe your pets) are bringing the ticks in from outside. They might be picking them up playing in their own yard or maybe from some other wooded area where they play.
If a person or animal walks through a tick-infested zone, the ticks will immediately try to climb onto the warm body passing by. If they can, they will attach to a patch of skin and begin feeding. Finding and removing them quickly is important because it takes a few hours of feeding for diseases to be transmitted. Ticks can be carried inside on clothing or pet fur, too. The hard ticks (black-legged tick, American dog tick) that you are talking about do not reproduce indoors. They remain on their host animal until fully engorged.
There are two things that you can do to immediately help control these ticks: 1) have an inspection and treatment of your yard, if necessary, and 2) make sure your children wear insect repellent when outside. Ideally, they should wear long pants and long sleeves, too, but that’s almost impossible to enforce.
If Your Yard Borders on Woods, You Have a Tick Zone
Ticks are most common in areas that abut woods. The border area where your lawn meets the woody edge of your property is the place where you are most likely to find (and pick up) ticks. Exterminators will usually treat this yard perimeter, shady flower beds, along any woodland trails, and in stone walls. The lower portions of trees and shrubs may be treated for ticks as well.
There are also steps that you can take to help tick-proof your yard like keeping your lawn mowed (see How to Keep Ticks Out of Your Yard). Mow a weed/brush-free strip between play areas and thick brush, and mow a wide border along any woodland paths. Move children’s play areas away from your yard’s edges.