From the Garden: Don't Let Ticks Kick You Out of the Garden

By Erin Breglia

Every time I hear the word tick,” I cringe in fear of the lit­tle arach­nids – and their bite and the dis­eases they car­ry. The recent expo­nen­tial increase in the tick pop­u­la­tion has had a big impact on me, my fam­i­ly, and our way of life because we are all lovers of the out­doors. Stub­born gar­den­er that I am, I decid­ed to learn how to avoid them rather than attract them, and to fig­ure out ways to gar­den, to hike, to just be out­side and still remain safe.

Accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC), ticks are most active between the months of April and Sep­tem­ber. The main types of ticks in our region are the Amer­i­can dog tick, the black­legged tick, the brown dog tick, and the Lon­es­tar tick. Each of them car­ries an array of pathogens. They live on the ground in areas with thick veg­e­ta­tion and high humid­i­ty, which of course includes forests and fields. 

First the ety­mo­log­i­cal sci­ence. Ticks go through four life stages: egg; six-legged lar­va; eight-legged nymph; and adult. After hatch­ing from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at each stage in order to move on to the next one. It can take up to three years to com­plete a full life cycle, and, on an encour­ag­ing note, most ticks will die because they can’t find a host for their next feeding.

All my research sources rec­om­mend­ed wear­ing light col­ored cloth­ing. Not only is it eas­i­er to detect a tick, it also is less attrac­tive to a tick. Long pants, long sleeved shirt, pants tucked into socks. Sec­ond was the use of Per­me­thrin. Per­me­thrin is an insec­ti­cide in the pyrethroid fam­i­ly. Pyrethroids are syn­thet­ic chem­i­cals that act like nat­ur­al extracts from the chrysan­the­mum flower. They should not be applied to skin but rather on clothes. More nat­ur­al” prod­ucts can be made with ingre­di­ents such as chrysan­the­mum, 2‑undecanone (derived from the stem and leaf of wild toma­to), gar­lic oil, rose­mary, lemon­grass, cedar, pep­per­mint, thyme and gera­ni­um. Both options, syn­thet­ic chem­i­cals and the more nat­ur­al prod­ucts, will repel ticks.

If you are a gar­den­er, you might do sev­er­al things to keep your prop­er­ty less hos­pitable to ticks’ sur­vival. Let neat and tidy” be your mot­to: keep the grass mown short, the beds weed­ed, and leaves and dead plant mate­r­i­al prompt­ly removed. Be wary of wood stacked out­doors – if pos­si­ble, move it into full sun. Cedar mulch was men­tioned as a nat­ur­al tick deter­rent and a 3 foot bor­der can be cre­at­ed to act as a buffer between the lawn and wood­ed areas. Also men­tioned were the addi­tion of spe­cif­ic plants such as chamomile, laven­der, mint, and rose­mary to your gar­den. These plants will help to ward off ticks as well as mos­qui­tos and fleas. 

I also found wildlife and domes­ti­cat­ed birds men­tioned as anoth­er way to keep ticks away. The best tick preda­tors are opos­sum, Guinea fowl, and chick­ens. Oth­er birds, such as wild turkey and birds, are both preda­tors and car­ri­ers of ticks. 

If you feel ticks have already made a home in your gar­den and you need to decon­t­a­m­i­nate, I came across a few recipes that are plant, peo­ple, and pet safe. Please check out the Rose­mary and Cin­na­mon’, Cit­rus Fruits Repel­lent’, and Hot Chili and Gar­lic Repel­lent’ recipes at www​.sproutabl​.com/​p​r​e​v​e​n​t​i​n​g​-​a​n​d​-​r​e​p​e​l​l​i​n​g​-​t​i​c​k​s​-​a​s​-​a​-​g​a​r​d​ener/. Oth­er great web resources cit­ed in this arti­cle are the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion at www​.cdc​.gov, and NY State Depart­ment of Health at www​.health​.ny​.gov.


Summer 2019

Volume 37 , Number 2

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Aug 06, 2022

Landis Forest 5K - August 6, 2022

A record turnout! Click here to view all the great photos from this event, and... read more

Jun 10, 2022 | Anne Donnelly

Don't Overlook Your Reciprocal Admissions Privilege

A sometimes overlooked benefit of your Landis Arboretum membership is the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal... read more

May 29, 2022

Scenes From the Spring Plant Sale

Thanks to our many wonderful volunteers, plant consignors, vendors, and customers, the Landis Signature Spring... read more

May 28, 2022 | Fred Breglia, Executive Director

From the Director’s Desk: Q&A, Part III

In this last Q&A session, I am focusing on leaf color change during the... read more

May 28, 2022 | Erin McKenna Breglia, Landis Gardener

From the Garden: Milkweeds for Monarchs!

Many people enjoy seeing butterflies in our Landis gardens. especially the monarch butterfly, Danaus... read more

May 28, 2022 | Anita Sanchez

Life and Death on the Lawn

It’s a beautiful summer day. You’ve finished your stack of books from the Landis... read more

News Archive