Now that the warmer weather is here, it’s time to think about reducing the risk of Lyme disease by managing the tick population on your property. The following information is provided by Penn State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Removing leaves and clearing brush and tall grass around houses and at the edges of gardens may reduce the numbers of ticks that transmit Lyme disease. This is particularly important in the eastern United States, where more transmission of Lyme disease is thought to occur near the home.

Applying acaricides, chemicals that are toxic to ticks such as permethrin, to gardens, lawns and the edge of woodlands near homes may be advisable in some situations. Various organophospate, synthetic pyrethroid and carbarnate active ingredients are effective acaricides; however consideration should be given to impacts on non-target organisms. All applications must adhere to the label instructions. A licensed professional pest control expert should supervise application to residential properties.

A relationship has been observed between the abundance of deer and the abundance of deer ticks in the eastern United States. Reducing and managing deer populations in geographic areas where Lyme disease occurs may reduce tick abundance. Removing plants that attract deer and constructing physical barriers may help discourage deer from coming near homes.

The chances of being bitten by a tick can be decreased with a few precautions: 

        • Avoid tick-infested areas, especially in May, June and July. Many local health departments 
          and park or extension services have information on the local distribution of ticks. 
        • Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily. 
        • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. 
        • Tape the area where pants and socks meet so that ticks cannot crawl under clothing. 
        • Spray insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and on exposed skin other than the 
          face, or treat clothes, especially pants, socks and shoes, with permethrin, which kills ticks 
          on contact. Permethrin is not to be used on exposed skin. It is available at most sporting 
          goods stores. 
        • Wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt for added protection. 
        • Walk in the center of trails to avoid overhanging grass and brush. 

After being outdoors, remove clothing and wash and dry it at a high temperature; inspect body carefully and remove attached ticks with tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pulling straight back with a slow steady force; avoid crushing the tick’s body. In some areas of Pennsylvania, ticks saved in a sealed container can be submitted to the local health department or Penn State Cooperative Extension office for identification.

Pets should be treated monthly with specific flea and tick treatments available from a veterinarian.