The bite of small, stealthy arachnids, commonly referred to as ticks, can be much more than just an unsettling experience. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), pathogens including bacteria, viruses, and even parasites can be passed from ticks to human and animal hosts as the bite occurs and during the time that the insect remains attached. Additionally, secondary infections can occur at the bite site and in surrounding tissues. Serious diseases from tick bites known to affect humans, pets and livestock include include Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, tularemia, Q Fever, and many others. While ticks are a common problem in rural, wooded areas, thousands of people and animals are also bitten by ticks each year in more heavily populated areas. Homeowners who want to protect their family members and pets from being bitten by these insects can use the following information to help formulate a strategy to reduce habitat and discourage tick activity on their properties. 

Examine outdoor areas for potential problems

One of the first steps in developing a proactive tick control plan is to examine outdoor areas where the family and pets spend time and make appropriate changes to discourage tick activity. Since ticks are known to attach to other animals and be carried into other areas, a good first step is to change the location of feeding and watering stations for wildlife, such as birds, squirrels, and deer. Placing these wildlife attractions in seldom used areas of the lawn, or removing them entirely, can help to lessen the numbers of ticks capable of hitch-hiking a ride into residential yards and gardens. Homeowners will also want to look at eliminating known hiding spots for ticks, such as piles of brush or debris, and areas of weeds or overgrown grass, bushes, or landscaping plants. 

Make changes to deal with excessive humidity 

Ticks, like many other insects, are drawn to humid areas where moisture and shade combine to provide them with an optimal environment. Examples of common problem areas include those where overgrown trees and shrubs keep the ground shaded throughout the day and allow moisture to collect. Having trees and bushes in these areas pruned, trimmed, or removed will reduce humidity levels by providing better air flow and encouraging the drying effects of additional sunshine. 

Develop an ongoing tick reduction strategy 

Dealing with ticks effectively requires an ongoing strategy that includes periodic trimming and removal of excess growth of trees, bushes, and landscaping. In addition to pursuing these methods to discourage tick activity, homeowners should also discuss ongoing tick control treatments with a reputable tree service professional in their area.