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Spray is last resort against ticks

Published: Thu, August 16, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

Q. Is there a spray to rid my garden of ticks without affecting my vegetables?

Joe from Boardman

A. Ticks are on everyone’s mind. That’s a good thing. When we go hiking or spend lots of time outside, we should be mindful of ticks before we go out and diligent in checking ourselves and others for ticks when we return.

But many of us are worried about ticks in and around the home. Whether in the landscape or in Joe’s vegetable garden, there are some changes we can make to our landscape to make it less attractive to ticks.

Modifying the area around the home and garden is the first step in reducing tick populations. For larger lots, you are more likely to have wooded areas. These areas will naturally have more ticks. The University of Connecticut states that 82 percent of ticks are located within three yards of the lawn perimeter. Thus, keeping weeds and brush from getting tall around the perimeter will reduce the tick populations adjacent to your flower and vegetable gardens.

Keeping the landscape and flower beds from being overcrowded will reduce the likelihood of high tick populations around the home. For example, ground covers are good hiding areas for rodents that can carry ticks into the area. Reducing the amount of ground covers and controlling rodents with traps or rodenticides will help in these areas.

Treating pets is another method of keeping ticks out of your yard and garden. For pets, you should consult your veterinarian about a comprehensive approach for keeping ticks off throughout the year.

As you can tell, I’m leaving the spray question as the last resort.

Yes, there are sprays that can be used for larger areas, but this is not a recommended practice for vegetable gardens. If ticks are an issue in the vegetable garden and a consistent problem on people and pets, area-wide controls may be needed. But these controls must be managed properly and done at the correct time of year.

For a complete guide to managing ticks on your overall property, go to http://go.osu.edu/tickmanagement.

In general, reducing tick populations around the home and garden are better initial strategies.

To learn more about ticks in Ohio and how to prevent tick bites, go to http://go.osu.edu/ticks.

Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Call the office plant and pest clinic at 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Regular clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays.

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