Although ticks can bite and transmit disease to humans, they prefer furry animals as hosts. To survive and complete each stage of development—egg, larval, nymph and adult—ticks must feed on blood. The American dog tick, brown dog tick, lone star tick and black-legged tick are among the most common species of ticks found in and near homes during the spring, summer and fall. If you find that ticks have invaded your home, there are several steps you can take to rid the infestation and keep your family safe.
Keeping ticks out of your home in the first place is the best type of pest control. Discourage rats, raccoons, possums and other rodents from living near your home because they often carry ticks. Keep your lawn trimmed, shrubs pruned, leaves racked and flowerbeds free of weeds. Ticks thrive in unkempt yards with lots of weeds and leaf litter. Treat your lawn with an insecticide if you have added new sod or mulch. Ticks can be brought into your yard with new mulch or sod. If you spend time outdoors in an area with ticks, carefully inspect your clothing before entering your home. Shower and wash your clothes immediately to prevent ticks from finding hosts in your home.
Commercial insecticides kill ticks in all stages of development. Always carefully follow the instructions on the insecticide's packaging for correct application. Spot treating known hiding places of ticks cures a mild infestation. To spot treat, spray insecticide in areas such as cracks and crevices near the bottom of your walls. Because ticks rarely travel to high places, treating cupboards is generally not needed. Severe infestations usually require room spray insecticides. Insecticides may have to be reapplied every two to four weeks to kill all ticks. If ticks remain, contact a professional pest control company.
Ticks are drawn to animals. Prevent your dog or cat from developing a tick infestation by applying a parasite repellent such as Advantix, Revolution or Frontline. These products can be toxic if applied incorrectly, so be sure to read and follow the instructions before use. If you find ticks in your home and have a pet, carefully treat the area where your pet sleeps. Wash all pet beds and apply a pet-friendly insecticide around the area. Purchase flea and tick collars, sprays or shampoos to kill any ticks living on your pet.
Not only are tick bites painful and itchy, but can cause you to contract a disease or infection. If you or a pet have been bitten by a tick, you will need to remove it to prevent further health concerns. Use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close as possible to the head. Firmly pull until the tick is removed. Make sure the entire tick is removed and no pieces remain in your skin. Any remaining pieces of the tick can set up an infection.
- Iowa State University Extension; Ticks; Ken Holscher; May 2003
- North Carolina Extension Integrated Pest Management Program; Ticks; Phillip J. Hamman, et al.
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension; Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases in North Carolina; Charles Apperson, et al., June 2009
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service: Ticks in Your Home
- Reader's Digest Version: Insect Repellent for Pets
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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