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Beware the start of tick season – River Journal Online – News for Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington, Ossining, Briarcliff Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, Cortlandt and Peekskill

Due to the recent cold winter, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) predicts that this summer will be particularly brutal with tick infestations. It’s important that we all do our part to help protect our families and pets from tick-borne diseases.

Happy Spring River reporters! Today I would like to share some tips on how to modify your garden to reduce the chances of ticks residing on your property and infecting your family with Lyme or other tick-borne diseases.

Did you know?

NYDEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that New York has the third highest number of confirmed Lyme disease cases diagnosed in the nation. However, Lyme disease is not the only disease transmitted by ticks. Others include Anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Some common misconceptions about ticks:

  • Ticks die in winter. Ticks go dormant when temperatures drop below freezing, but reappear as soon as temperatures rise above 40 degrees.
  • Ticks “jump”. Ticks find their prey by one of two methods, hiding in tall grass and dropping from above onto their target prey.

Ticks commonly found in Westchester County prefer wetlands and as wildlife and pest control operators it is our duty to know the behavior and habits of ticks. If you follow these suggestions, they will help reduce the population of ticks residing on your property.

  • Reduce wet spots on your property
    • Clean excess debris (rocks/plants), especially debris that blocks or clogs drains/gutters
    • Fill all indentations with topsoil to create a flatter yard
    • Aerate your yard to help break up compacted topsoil and help with general drainage
    • Install a French drain to evacuate water from your foundation
  • Remove plants that deer love to eat (deer being one of the most common prey of ticks). The following plants are native to New York; Not only are they deer resistant, but they also serve our native pollinators:
    • butterfly tree
    • milkweed
    • Joe Pye Weed
    • black eyed susan
    • purple cone flower
    • Blue Mist Flower
  • Keep your grass cut short (less than 6″), as ticks like to reside in tall grass.
  • Install a deer fence to keep deer away from your property.

Another way to reduce or eliminate ticks on your property is to use a botanical insecticide treatment. The treatment we use is 100% organic and 25b free (meaning it poses little or no risk to people or the environment). Unlike other pesticides, plant components act in the vapor phase and are classified as “true repellents”. When ticks come nearby, they are repelled by the fumes. In contrast, synthetic pyrethroids are called excito-repellents; ticks must physically touch them to be repelled. Synthetic treatments can also be harmful to you and your pets.

If you have any questions about ticks or other pest issues, contact me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to provide you with all the information I can.

Happy spring everyone.

Chris Lee is the owner of Wrex Wildlife Services in Croton-on-Hudson.