Deer ticks require cooler, high humidity habitat and thus seek out areas that are shaded, moist, and covered with leaf litter and debris. They must also find animal hosts on which to feed. For these reasons, ticks tend to be most abundant in the woods, along trails, and in the grassy, brushy areas adjacent to the woods. There are a number of ways to manage landscapes to make them less suitable for tick survival.
- Keep lawns mowed to 3 inches or less and keep leaves raked to reduce humidity at ground level.
- Leaves can be composted in bins placed away from the home.
- Mulching leaves in place by mowing them into tiny fragments is also an option.
- Clear leaf litter, tall grasses, and brush from around homes, stonewalls, woodpiles, and along the edge of lawns.
- Consider trimming, pruning, or removing trees around lawns to let in more sunlight.
- Avoid using invasive plant species, such as Japanese barberry and honeysuckle, which can create ideal microclimates for ticks, and instead utilize native plant species.
- Plant deer-resistant varieties or install fencing to exclude deer from the yard.
- Discourage rodent activity by removing woodpiles or stacking wood neatly in dry areas away from the home.
- Place bird feeders in open areas away from the home and consider feeding birds only during winter months when ticks are less active. In addition to birds, feeders can attract other tick hosts including mice and other rodents.
- Position playground equipment, decks, and patios in sunny locations away from yard edges, if possible.
- Install a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips, mulch, or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around swing sets and other recreational areas as a visual reminder of potential tick habitat.
- Remove trash, brush piles, old furniture, automobiles, etc. that offer places for ticks and tick hosts to hide.
When performing landscape modifications to reduce tick populations around your property, always use proper personal protection strategies.