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Lets Tackle Ticks!
Question. DearMike: My parents just purchased a home that has been vacant for severalmonths. Seems like each time they visit, they come away with ticks -mostly on their heads. The house is on a plot with some trees, but it'sfar from being in the woods!  Is it possible that these ticks areinside the house, or could they be jumping off the trees?  Isthere a safe way to deal with ticks?  We would hate to use harshchemicals, but Lyme disease is not a desirable option either! Thanksfor your help - we love your show!
             ---Dr.Dawn Kriebel; Immaculata University

Answer. Thank you, Dawn-how's TonyOrlando doing these days?

Anyway, yes, ticks could be in the house-especially if the previousowners had dogs. Most cats "catch" ticks before they can latch on whilethey're grooming themselves (the cats, not the ticks). But dogs don'tgive themselves a tongue bath every hour. And when an engorged femaletick drops off undetected, she can give birth to a huge number of'babies' who can live a long time-sometimes years-in between meals.

Easiest way to check would be to set carbon dioxide traps. Get a bigload of dry ice (handle it carefully, with big thick gloves) and putsome in the center of each room, surrounded by big circles of stickytape. Nearby ticks will head towards the CO2 and get caught on thetape. If the tapes are free of ticks the next day, the house is likelyclean.

That leaves the great outdoors. Most ticks climb to the top of tallblades of grass or brush-generally a foot or more off the ground-waitfor a red-blooded creature to pass by and then hop on. (So keep yourbrush cut; it keeps the suckers further away.) But yes, they also climbtrees and drop down onto people from low hanging branches. Eeeeuuu!Your folks can defend against this by using the repellent I'll describein a few minutes.

Question. Do you have thoughts aboutthe ability of garlic repellents to discourage ticks andmosquitoes?  If effective, does the garlic repellent cause an odorfor a period of time?


You Bet Your Garden   ©2004 Mike McGrath