Ticks are not insects. They are arachnids belonging to the group – mites. They are bigger than all other mites and they are very important. There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world and they are capable of spreading more than 65 diseases, many of them serious. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and tularemia are a few. If someone made a list of the top ten most dangerous pests, ticks would be close to the top of the list. For some reason, they receive almost no attention compared to bed bugs which are absolutely harmless. Ticks mostly feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, but some species feed on reptiles. They can be found in lawns, yards with trees and shrubs and, occasionally, inside homes. They prefer the shaded areas of your yard.
When you have ticks in your yard, here is one way control of them. Get a large piece of flannel cloth and tie it to a stick. Drag it through the entire yard slowly and pay particular attention to shady areas. Any ticks he drags the cloth over will get snagged. When you are done, put the cloth in a burn barrel and burn it or in a trash bag and seal it shut and take it to the dump. Then get some food grade diatomaceous earth and spread it all over the shady areas including along the sides of the house. Get some all along the foundation where there is dirt abutting the house. Then get some Vaseline and put some on all the outside window sills. If Vaseline is too messy you can use duct tape sticky side up. It takes 30 to 40 days for tick eggs to hatch, so you should repeat this entire process in a month and then again one month later. If ticks are in your house, you need to treat all the areas where they can hide. This would be behind baseboards, moldings, in furniture and carpets as well as around window sills. You can treat these areas with food-grade diatomaceous earth, baking soda, talcum powder or spray them with Greenbug for Indoors. All of these products will be safe for you and your family and pets but will kill the ticks. Greenbug is available online.
Most of the ticks listed below are only found in the woods and remote areas and won't infest your homes. I am listing them because they can be serious vectors of disease if you should encounter them.
Talaje soft ticks (Ornithodoros talaje)
Man, rodents, pigs, cattle, horses. Very painful bite. Found in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada. It can transmit tickborne relapsing fever in some areas
Relapsing fever ticks (Argasidae - Ornithodoros turicata)
It feeds on kangaroo rats, rabbits, sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, humans, rattlesnakes and turtles. It is found in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California. May produce intense irritation and swelling at bite site in humans. Also produces relapsing fever spirochetes.
Rocky Mountain wood ticks (Ixodidae - Dermacentor andersoni)
Rocky Mountain wood tick immatures feed on rodents and rabbits. Adults feed on cattles, sheep, deer, humans and other large mammals. They are found from the western counties of Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from northern Arizona and northern New Mexico in the United States to British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in Canada. May transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and tularemia.
Brown dog ticks (Ixodidae - Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
Brown dog ticks are found worldwide, mostly in warmer areas. They are small and reddish-brown in color. Females can lay up to 5000 eggs, depending on the amount of blood consumed. Immature brown dog ticks feed on a variety of animals. Adults feed on domestic dogs and occasionally bite humans. In dogs, Brown dog ticks can transmit canine erhlichiosis and canine babesia. It has recently been identified as a reservoir for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the southwest.
If you have any pest questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 505-385-2820. If you like you can join my Bug Club. Go to my website at askthebugman.com to join. You will get a copy of my book on safe and effective pest management and I will help you with any pest issues you have.
I have been getting a lot of calls about ants coming into homes. We will discuss some treatment methods that don’t involve spraying pesticides. There are several things you can do to prevent ants from entering your home. The first step is exclusion. Go around the outside of your home and inspect it very carefully from an ant's point of view. Ants can sense cool air and aromatic odors emanating from your home and will try to gain access. Check around the house at ground level and look for cracks in the foundation, voids around pipes, areas under stucco, peepholes in bricks and similar areas that ants can use to gain entrance. All these areas need to be sealed, caulked, screened or otherwise altered to prevent ants from using them to get into your home. Check around your windows and doors to make sure they close tightly. If the doors aren't tight, you may have to install door sweeps on them. Check your bushes, shrubs and trees to make sure you don't have any branches touching the roof. Don't stack firewood, bricks or anything else next to your house or ants and other insects may find it a good place to nest. If you have bushes or shrubs next to your house, periodically inspect them for aphids, scales and similar bugs as ants are attracted to the honeydew they produce. The ants will get on the plants and eventually find their way into your home. Don't put flagstone or flat boards on the ground too close to your home or some species of ants will nest under them. On the other hand, mound-making ants will generally stay outside. They rarely leave their complicated and efficient homelike in the mound to enter homes. If you don't want the ants making mounds in your yard, you can flood the nests with club soda or with white vinegar or food-grade DE. If you use the DE, mix 4 tablespoons per gallon of water. You can also use 1 gallon of orange juice diluted with 2 gallons of water and a dash of soap. If you prefer, you can also spread dry instant grits on the mound. The ants will eat it and not be able to digest it and die.
You can repel ants with a wide variety of products, including cinnamon, baking soda, Comet Cleanser, cedar oil, medicated baby powder, Tide, talcum powder, chalk, coffee grounds, borax, garlic, broken egg shells, bone meal, black or red pepper, peppermint, paprika, chili powder and mint leaves. If you have ants going into your hummingbird feeder, you can put duct tape, sticky side out, on the wire holding the feeder, to deter them.
The best way to control them when they get in your home is with baits. Different species have different food preferences. Some species will take a wide variety of baits, while others are more particular. Here is a recipe for effective, homemade ant baits that use borax. It attracts ants looking for either moisture or food. You will need: 3 c. water, 1 c. sugar, 1 tsp. borax or 2 tsp. food-grade DE, 6 small screw-top jars with lids, such as jelly jars covered with masking tape, which will enable the ants to climb up the side. Mix the sugar, water and borax (or food-grade DE) in a bowl. Loosely half-fill the jars with cotton balls or pieces of sponge or wadded paper towels. Pour up to ½ cup of the sugary mixture over the cotton balls, saturating them. Make several small holes in the lid. Screw the lids on the jars tightly.
If you smoke, always wear plastic gloves when making ant baits or they will sense the tobacco smoke on the baits and not go to it. Ants do not like cigarette or cigar smoke.
A very good commercial bait is Terro Bait, which is made from boric acid and is sold in some stores. Many common household ants will love it. Just place the bait stations where you see the ants foraging.
With any bait you use, homemade or commercial, always put them in areas where children and pets can’t disturb them.
If you have large carpenter ants, you can use Advanced Carpenter Ant Bait, which is available online. Again, no pesticides need to be sprayed inside or outside. If you have any ants that aren’t taking the bait for some reason, you can contact me and I will help you identify them and recommend a treatment. You can contact me at email@example.com or by phone at 505-385-2820. There is also a lot of non-toxic pest information on my website at www.askthebugman.com.
Bugs are cool. If you agree (and you should), check out Arachnophilia. This spider-simulating game has you spinning webs in a tree in order to catch some tasty insects. You've got to eat bugs in order to keep your web fluid flowing. But watch out for the dangerous pests like bees and stage beetles, which can damage your web and even hurt you. Click on "facts" along the way to learn stuff about various insects. Entertaining and educational.
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