Courtesy of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station/Dr. Kirby Strafford
“A lucid and important book, filled with moving case histories and vignettes, about an infectious illness that is threatening many lives.”
~ Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer and The Gene: An Intimate History
Fourth of July weekend starts today! If you’re having guest over for a summertime BBQ or family gathering, the last thing you want is for them to walk away with a tick bite. Luckily, the authors of Conquering Lyme Disease: Science Bridges the Great Divide, Brian A. Fallon and Jennifer Sotsky provide landscape management tactics that can help you reduce the risk of being bitten by a tick. Here are a few tricks that you can apply in your own yard! (Excerpted from pages 272-274)
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Landscape management tactics can markedly reduce the risk of being bitten by a tick. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has an invaluable free guide for tick control and landscape management that can be found online. the general principles of management for individual homeowners are as follows:
- Clear tall grasses and brush around your home and remove leaf litter. Removing leaf litter on the edge of the yard has itself been shown to reduce the number of ticks by up to 70 percent.
- Put wood chips under foundation plantings.
- Create a mulch or wood chip barrier at least three feet wide around the property perimeter.
- Keep children’s play areas such as swing sets away from the areas where ticks are most densely found—the woods, stone walls, and the perimeter of one’s property where the grass meets the woods.
- Eliminate Japanese Barberry bushes from the property because their presence has been associated with higher tick abundance; in one study, their removal resulted in a reduction in the density of spiro chete-infected adult ticks to nearly 60 percent that of unmanaged infestation (Williams et al. 2009.)
- Consider hiring a licensed landscape care company to apply an acar acide, a tick pesticide, in the yard. This approach is often used in the northeastern United States in the spring to reduce the nymphal population and in the fall to reduce the adult tick population. Children and household pets should stay off the treated areas for at least twenty-four hours. Landscape companies can provide more specific guidelines.