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Pyola® Insect Spray - Pyola® Insect Spray - 16 oz (makes up to 12 gallons spray)
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?
----Anita; Philadelphia Suburbs
Answer. I don't think anyone knowsfor sure. Garlic based sprays, like "Mosquito Barrier" DO keepskeeters away from the sprayed area for two weeks, and might work onticks. The only way to find out would be to spray a known tick-infestedspot, wait a few days and then set some dry ice traps or use a tickdrag to see if they've left the area. ('Tick drags' aren't partieswhere arachnids dress up like Barbara Streisand; they're big sheets offlannel that are dragged through the brush by researchers, who thencount the number of ticks on the cloth.) Oh, and the sprays do have astrong garlic scent when you first use them, but the smelldissipates-at least to our noses-within a few hours.
Question. I remember hearing youdiscuss a product that will get rid of ticks in the yard. (I alsoremember instructions for making something similar using old carpet,PVC tubing, and a pesticide spray, but that's too much work for me.)Can you please remind us of the name of this product and a phone numberor website for ordering it? Thanks very much!
---Mandy Levine; Melrose Park, PA,
Answer. Thank YOU, Mandy-forreminding us to do our yearly "Daminex tick tube" reminder!" Many of userroneously call the frighteningly tiny monsters responsible for Lymedisease 'deer ticks', but most of the little bloodsuckers never see adeer. Virtually all, however, spend their early life attached to fieldmice. Kill the ticks while they're on the mice, and they won't be ableto feast on you later.
Damminix tubes are rolls of cardboard that contain cotton balls soaked in permethrin, a pesticide that's deadly to ticks, but very low toxicity to humans. The mice take the cotton balls back to their nests to use as bedding, and the permethrin kills all the ticks in the nest. Sold in sets of 24, the tubes are available at retail outlets in states with a big enough tick problem to warrant the company going through that state's (expensive!) registration process. (Last I checked, there were around two dozen such states.) You can order them directly, get more info or find out your state's status at www.ticktubes.com
Now, I want to make clear that permethrin IS a syntheticpesticide. And no, I haven't gone over to the Dark Side of Gardening.This is the ONLY exception I make to my otherwise 100% organicrecommendations. I make this huge exception for three reasons:
Ticks are a serious problem. They carry many extremely nasty diseasesin addition to Lyme (I lost a close friend some years back to thelingering effects of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). And they haveproven more difficult to control naturally than almost any other peston the planet.
Permethrin is a synthetic version of the old botanical insecticidepyrethrum, which comes from chrysanthemum flowers, and it's about aslow toxicity a chemical pesticide as you're likely to find. And verylow concentrations are used to kill ticks-without affecting anythingelse in the environment.
The products people would otherwise use are awful-like the nastychemical repellant DEET, which doesn't even work well against ticks andis absorbed by your body in large amounts if you're foolish enough toslather it on. OK?
Alright, so here's how to make your own, slightly different, 'traps':Put on gloves and goggles, spray a permethrin insecticide onto piecesof felt, heavy cloth or old carpet, line the insides of pieces of PVCplumbing pipe with the sprayed material, then place the pipes in brushyareas around your property. The mice will go inside the pipes tohide (they love tight little spaces) and the permethrin will kill theirticks-all without you spraying yourself OR the environment! Heck,you won't even hurt the mice! Whether you use Daminex tubes ormake your own 'mouse wipes', space the traps about 10 yards apart onthe perimeter of your property, where overgrown, brushy areas begin.Don't waste them on manicured lawns; you won't find ticks there.
Other that having a flock of fowl like guinea hens-the most excellentconsumers of ticks-running loose on your property, the safest way toprotect your family directly is with permethrin "tick repellent"sprays. Although labeled as 'repellents', the sprays actually kill anybloodsuckers that jump onto you-before they can attach themselves. Thesprays I recommend contain a very low-one half of onepercent-concentration (that's all you need to kill ticks daid); youspray them on your clothes, not your skin; and one spray lasts for twoto six weeks of wearing and clothes washing.
You'll find .5% permethrin pump-spray and aerosol products fromCoulston, Sawyer and Repel in stores that sell camping and huntingsupplies; brand names include "Duranon" and "Permanone". You can orderSawyer products online at http://www.permethrin-repellent.com/.(Warning: A lot of products contain higher concentrations of permethrinand/or other chemicals, including the useless but toxic DEET-so stickwith those two brand names or read labels carefully. Don't buy anythingwith DEET in it!)
You Bet Your Garden ©2004 Mike McGrath