Most of the time, ticks don't crawl into our yards. Since they are so small, they can’t travel very quickly. Therefore, they rely on animals to do most of the work for them. However, this isn't just because they don't want to crawl long distances. It’s actually due to the fact that they can't survive the long journey, especially in Port St. Lucie. Most tick species require a lot of moisture in order to survive. When they aren't drawing blood from a host animal to get the moisture they need, they're hiding in areas of moist vegetation to help maintain the moisture levels they need to survive. For all the reasons above, when ticks invade our Port St. Lucie yards, it is usually because they were carried onto our property by an animal.
The role animals play in the spread of ticks is important to understand. Ticks feed on animals, but that’s not the only benefit they receive from hitching a ride on them. By using animals as hosts, the ticks to do many things they can't do on their own, such as travel hundreds of miles or chew holes to get into a home.
One of the most common hosts that young ticks will feed on are mice or rats. When they do, they suddenly acquire a new ability: the ability to chew holes through wood. While the ticks themselves do not have the ability to chew holes in the exterior of homes, they can gain access to homes when rodents gnaw holes in exterior walls and carry them inside. With this new ability, they will be able to get into your wall voids, basement, attic, and other hiding places around your home. And as they develop from six-legged larvae to eight-legged nymph, they will begin to drop off their first host and search for a new host, preferably a larger animal. This is when they become a threat to homeowners and their pets.
Another host young ticks commonly choose are birds, typically smaller birds. When ticks choose birds as their hosts, they acquire another useful ability: the ability to fly! This provides them with incredible mobility. However, it can also help them get into your home. When these birds visit your bird feeders or hop around in your landscaping, these nymphs can drop off into shaded locations where they will wait for a new host to pass by. That host could be your dog or cat out exploring your yard, your child playing, or a wild animal passing through. If ticks are brought into your yard, it is just one more small step for them to hitch a ride inside your home. That is why routine tick treatments from a professional are effective at preventing a tick infestation.
While many species of ticks can get into our homes and spread diseases to us and our pets, there is one tick that stands out from the rest. This is the brown dog tick. Unlike other ticks, brown dog ticks are able to complete their entire life cycle indoors. And these ticks are linked to Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) which is a bacterial disease that is often associated with a rash, high fever, severe headache as well as chills, muscle aches, nausea or vomiting, and neurological changes.
Every step you take to protect your yard and home from wildlife intrusions will help reduce the tick populations in your yard. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Make sure your exterior trash is stored in sealed receptacles. Also make sure to secure those receptacles so they can't be knocked over by large animals, like raccoons and to clean your receptacles routinely to reduce odors that attract wildlife.
- Keep bird feeders away from the exterior of your home.
- Reduce clutter in your yard that smaller wildlife animals could hide in.
- Keep your lawn trimmed by mowing regularly.
- Put fencing around your yard or around any source of food that cannot be removed from your property, such as a garden. When installing fencing to keep animals out, be sure the fencing reaches at least a foot into the ground to prevent wildlife animals from burrowing under it.
Brown Dog Tick Prevention
If you have issues with brown dog ticks on your property, cleanliness is your best defense. Make sure to keep your pet areas free of clutter and other debris to make it easier to see engorged ticks as they look for a place to lay their eggs. This will help you to remove those ticks before they can repopulate and grow the infestation on your property.
Professional Tick Control
There are many ways a pest control professional can help you reduce the tick populations in your yard and keep wildlife animals from bringing ticks into your home. For assistance with ridding your Port St. Lucie home of ticks and the wildlife that carry them, contact us at Nozzle Nolen Pest Control to get started!