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Lets Tackle Ticks!

Question. Dear Mike: My parents just purchased a home that has been vacant for several months. 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's far from being in the woods!  Is it possible that these ticks are inside the house, or could they be jumping off the trees?  Is there a safe way to deal with ticks?  We would hate to use harsh chemicals, but Lyme disease is not a desirable option either! Thanks for your help - we love your show!
             ---Dr. Dawn Kriebel; Immaculata University

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

Anyway, yes, ticks could be in the house-especially if the previous owners had dogs. Most cats "catch" ticks before they can latch on while they're grooming themselves (the cats, not the ticks). But dogs don't give themselves a tongue bath every hour. And when an engorged female tick 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 big load of dry ice (handle it carefully, with big thick gloves) and put some in the center of each room, surrounded by big circles of sticky tape. Nearby ticks will head towards the CO2 and get caught on the tape. If the tapes are free of ticks the next day, the house is likely clean.

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

Question. Do you have thoughts about the ability of garlic repellents to discourage ticks and mosquitoes?  If effective, does the garlic repellent cause an odor for a period of time?