Updated: Apr 19
The Threat of Ticks in Michigan
It's that time of the year again, tick season is upon us. I don't know about you, but ticks seriously gross me out, whether it be in the smaller un-engorged state or the fully engorged state, which you can see in the picture above.
According to the Michigan Department of Human Health and Services, Michigan hosts around 20 species of ticks. Amongst these 20, the black-legged tick (Deer Tick; Ixodes scapularis) is one of the most serious threats to humans as it is a vector for Lyme Disease.
Maybe less of a threat to humans, but still a threat and should not be overlooked are the other most prevalent species in Michigan- the American Dog Tick, the Woodchuck Tick, the Brown Dog Tick and the Lone Star Tick. Pictured here you will see a general overview of their distinguishable characteristics-notably, most all of these species are as small or slightly larger than a sesame seed. Below I've added a PDF from MDHHS that is downloadable and printable- if you're a school, outdoor camp or even a family household- it could be very important physical and mental health to be able to identify which tick you were bit by when speaking with your family doctor.
Now that we know about the tick threat, what do we do to protect ourselves?
(5) Steps you can take to protect you, your family and your pets from ticks!
Use a repellent of some form on yourself and your pets. Deet works very well but does come with some environmental/health concerns. MDHHS recommends you use no more than 30% Deet formulations and does recommend it as a tool for combating ticks, as well mosquitoes. Do something to protect your body, whether it be Deet or some other formulation, it's better than nothing. I do highly recommend weighing the cost benefit of not using Deet, as it is seen to be most effective- you're risking a bout with Lyme Disease after all. Here are some products you could try: Cutter's® Lemon Eucalyptus Spray, Avon® Skin so Soft Insect Repellent and Off® Deep Woods Repellent-V. You should consider using permethrin on your clothing, ball caps and outerwear. Permethrin is recommended in some of the most formidable places of the Jungle around the world and is very effective, not to mention its not coming into contact with your skin- it goes without being said, wearing long pants, long sleeve shirts, socks and boots when in environments with high tick traffic. You should also check the labels of any material you use to see if it can be used to protect your household pets too. Please check the label and follow it.
Hire a professional to treat your most trafficked outdoor areas. The money you will spend buying fogging treatments and sprays from the local hardware or on amazon will NOT be as effective as what a professional will be able to provide you. When I speak to customers inquiring about tick control, some of them have already spent $100+ dollars on treatment options and would have actually saved money if they'd just called a professional. Tick treatments require special equipment if you're having it done professionally- this does not make it usually financially feasible for a homeowner to acquire, nor be as effective. In our industry we use giant ULV (Ultra Low Volume) mist blowers with a large backpack blower that can spray small particles of insecticide 30-70 feet in the air, around the ground, etc. On top of the equipment advantage, the training we receive and the access to commercial grade pesticides will be different from what you can typically acquire, conventional and green pesticides. For household yard treatments, they can range from $99-149.00 per treatment, and these treatments will typically provide protection for up to (1) month.
Do tick checks! Get Naked and check all cracks and crevices- you may need assistance with this too, and as comical as it may be, checking yourself or your loved ones after time spent outdoors can be a great way to prevent an encounter with a tick in your bed, sofa or elsewhere. Need I go further? :)
Keep your lawn and landscaping clean and short. Essentially, don't give ticks an environment that can help them hide, thrive, reproduce or even survive. I always recommend these types of environment controls to customers struggling with ticks. Keep your lawn short (mow prior to any treatments), don't overpopulate your landscape with tight growing shrubs and bushes, keep moisture around the home to a minimum as well.
Keep an eye out for tick carrying animals such as rodents, deer and even domesticated animals. Consider these areas to be more cautious in, fence them off, try some form of mechanical solution (trapping), etc. One great biological control method would be having a flock of ducks or chickens, they can work wonders on insects in the areas they forage.
I hope this helps all of you battling ticks across West Michigan. If you’re looking for a provider, we have branches in Greenville and White Cloud and serve most of West Michigan. Follow us here or on social media for more on managing pests! As always you can follow us @PestProfessor on Social Media or if you need service contact us at (888) 369-5880.