Tick Control Strategies

Ticks are the most harmful ectoparasites of domestic and wild animals as well as important vectors of disease agents to humans. In order to develop an effective tick biocontrol program, we must encourage scientists and policymakers to support this long-neglected field so that it will become an active branch of research. 

The two animals most implicated in the increase of tick-borne disease are the mouse and the deer. The mice followed by the chipmunk are the greatest reservoirs for Lyme disease and perhaps other tick-borne disorders. Therefore, the mouse is the animal most responsible for transmitting disease.

The deer is not responsible for that since it is not a good reservoir. Larval and nymphal stages of the tick feed primarily on small rodents. It is not uncommon for a mouse to carry over 100 larval ticks, and transmit disease to them.

The favored host of the adult female tick is the deer. After becoming engorged with blood at this last meal on the host animal. It then drops to the ground where it lays approximately 3,000 eggs. Therefore, the deer is the animal most responsible for the increasing number of ticks.

Intervention Strategies To Control Tick Populations

There are numerous strategies for controlling tick populations. These strategies are grouped into three
general categories:

1.Reducing tick immigration
2.Increasing tick mortality
3.Reducing tick reproduction 

Perennial Woody Plants

Many of these plants can be used as a border around your yard to keep deer, mice, and ticks from entering the property. These plants include: bamboo, blackberry, raspberry, rose of Sharon, yew, cedar (any), boxwood (any), privet (any). If you put these plants in the correct place around your yard, you will notice a significant decrease in ticks.

4-Poster Devices

A topical treatment device to control adult ticks on deer. The deer come to the device to feed from a bin that contains corn. In order to feed, they must roll their head against a vertical roller, laced with a “tickicide.” Since most ticks congregate on the ears, head, and neck area of the deer, this drastically cuts down on the next generation of ticks that would have hatched. This is a carefully controlled and targeted use of a “tickicide” (selection is one that is not dangerous to or absorbed systemically by the deer).


Fences are efficient barriers to keep deer out of the yard.However, many types of fences are not good barriers to keep ticks out. Tickicide should be applied to the fence line in an area-wide enough to accommodate the deer population expected over time.


A bait box is a topical treatment device to control ticks on small rodents. The mouse or other small rodent is attracted into the device to feed and is brushed with a small dose of Fipronil. Fipronil provides 42 days of control on rodents.CDC trials have shown amazing success in reducing the tick infestation rate on mice. This can not only break the cycle of disease, but also the risk of exposure for the property owner where the devices are installed. Again this is a carefully controlled and targeted use of an acaricide.


Nematodes are microscopic roundworms. Several strains of Steinernema and strains of Heterorhabditis, are well known to science and are utilized in attacking insect pests..They are harmless to higher vertebrates (humans and livestock, for instance). In a limited field test by Doloris Hill,Ph.D, U.S.D.A., 95 -100% of adult engorged females were killed


Chemical secreted by ticks that guide behavior such as assembly, attachment, sex and primer. Scientists are examining these in order to replicate them and use them to control tick numbers. Pheromones are species specific so they are environmentally safe.


Entomopathic fungi have been widely used for biological control of agricultural pests. Several of them cause mortality of ticks. 


Tiny sting-less wasps that lay eggs in the body of ticks. When the bees hatch they kill the ticks. 

Watering Strategies

Water sources for deer should be kept away from your home and any adjacent buildings because this will make it difficult for mice to establish their nests in these areas.Water points should be relocated to places where there are no buildings or landscaping around them. If you want to build a water source for deer, make sure the area surrounding the water point is “tickicide” treated.

Removing Deer Food Sources

Deer feeds on a variety of food sources. Many birds, mammals, and insects are affected by the deer’ss preference for certain types of plant species. If you want to reduce the population of ticks in your yard, there are several strategies that can be implemented. First, remove all the possible “tickicide” treated grasses from your yard. Second, remove all the bushes from around your yard. Third, fertilize with a fertilizer that is not attractive to deer. Fourth, replace the grass with ground cover plants such as pachysandra and ivy. Fifth, plant a perimeter of perennial woody plants around your home and property line

Remove Deer Shelters

If you remove or reduce the availability of deer shelters, this will make it difficult for mice to establish their nests. Also, if your home is located inside a wooded area, it would be wise to increase the distance between your yard and the forest line. This will help reduce mouse populations in both areas.

Get Rid Of Mice

By now, mice are established in your yard. If you want to reduce the population of ticks by at least 50%, then get rid of the mice! This is not an easy task. However there are many ways to accomplish this task: First, remove food sources for the mice. Second, seal all obvious entry points into the house with wire mesh. Third, remove all shrubs and bushes close to your home. Finally, apply “tickicide” (not systemic) to the perimeter of the property line.

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