Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
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Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
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Chas Kempf
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Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: January 21, 2023
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Tick elimination is a combination of chemical and non-chemical control methods in and around your home, as well as removing ticks from dogs.
Chemical elimination of ticks includes insecticide sprays and insecticide dusts.  This article will detail both because both are important if you wish to rid your home and property of ticks.  The more you understand this stubborn pest, the easier it will be eliminate.
You might want to take time to read Tick Biology and Habits if you have not already done so.  In the tick biology area, there are links leading to description and habits of Brown Dog Ticks, American Dog Tick, soft ticks and hard ticks.

Non-chemical Control of Ticks

Non-chemical tick control procedures should be implemented along with chemical control methods.  These non-chemical control measures will greatly reduce tick problems.  Keeping grass and weeds cut short in tick infested areas increases tick desiccation during hot weather, discourages alternative hosts and lessens the amount of plant material which may need a pesticide application to kill ticks.
Removal of abandoned birds’ nests in and around the property will reduce tick numbers, especially of soft ticks.  Before removing bird nest, check nest for eggs, babies or birds that still rely on their parents for food; make sure there are no birds in nest who are too young to fly or otherwise survive away from parents and nest.
Removal of clutter and debris on the property will also discourage rodent populations.  You should also remove nesting material left by rodents.
Screening and sealing entry points (used by squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, rodents, bats, etc.) to houses and other structures will also greatly reduce tick problems in and around the home.  Sealing cracks and crevices where ticks can hide, both inside and on the exterior of your home, will aid in tick management.

Habitat change is very important in tick control.   Since ticks cannot hop or fly to get to their host, they must climb onto an object (such as tall vegetation, fences, etc.) and wait for a potential host to travel close by.  Detecting shadows, vibrations, exhaled carbon dioxide or other host odors, the tick then drops from their tall perch to attach themselves to their host.
Tall vegetation not only gives ticks easier access to their next passing host but also prevents insecticide applications from giving you the thorough coverage that you need.  Pesticides that just “sit” on tall grasses, weeds and other vegetation are easily destroyed by sunlight.  Many pests can detect the presence of an insecticide spray (or dust) and will quickly hide on the bottom side of plant leaves or in mulch around treated plants.  Treating both sides of plant leaves will increase your control by as much as 60 percent.
Properties and fence rows that are overgrown with weeds and tall grass offer excellent harborage for tick carrying rodents and reptiles; vegetation that grows too tall will naturally go to seed, attracting birds, rats, mice and other creatures that feed on seed.  In summary, tall vegetation will severely inhibit your tick control!

Ticks on Dogs

In many cases, dogs (one of the main targets of ticks) will pick up ticks while roaming through wooded or overgrown areas, and also when taken for walks through parks.  During the peak of tick season, you should limit your dog’s access to these areas.  The only tick collar that we have seen work consistently is the Preventic Tick Collar for Dogs.
Regular examination and grooming of pets (especially dogs) and frequent cleaning of their bedding is also strongly recommended.  Infested pet bedding should be carefully washed or disposed of.  The area around the pet bed should be carefully and thoroughly treated (see insecticide treatment) with an approved dust or spray.  It has to be emphasized that the dog must be treated if the infestation is to be eliminated.

Products Used In Tick Elimination

Bifen IT (same as Talstar), Onslaught and Permethrin Pro are professional concentrates that can be used for outdoor and indoor tick elimination.  In areas where ticks are an on-going problem, spray shrubs, tree trunks, fences, ground covers and lawns every 3 months or so to keep pressure on the tick population.
Insecticide dusts are also needed for indoor ticks.
New York residents need to order different products, due to state restrictions.

Outdoor Tick Control

Outdoors, special attention should be paid to lawns, shrubbery and crawl spaces under buildings of any size.  These areas should be thoroughly treated with Permethrin Pro to kill ticks and to prevent infestations of fleas, ticks, ants and other pests.  Apply your concentrate insecticide outdoors with a hose-end sprayer for best results.
Treat all tick habitats, spraying shrubbery up to a height of 2 to 3 feet.  If at all possible, mow grass and weeds on any vacant lot frequented by you, your pets and any other creature (rats, mice, raccoons, birds, reptiles) that can come into contact with your family.   These areas should also be treated Bifen IT or Onslaught.
The recommended rate for killing outdoor ticks is 1 ounce of concentrate per 1,000 square feet of lawn.
Using a 20 Gallon Hose End Sprayer, pour about 5 ounces of Onslaught or Bifen IT into sprayer; fill sprayer with water and attach to garden hose.  This mixture will cover 5,000 square feet — an average size back yard.  If your area to be treated is larger, refill and treat until all possible tick harborage is covered.  Keep people and pets off treated surfaces until areas have been allowed to dry.  Once dry, it is safe for pets and family to re-enter the area.

Because of a tick’s ability to detect and avoid pesticides, you should begin your pesticide application at the exterior of your home (or other structures), then work out and away from the house.  This will help prevent “flushing” or “running” ticks up and into your home from outdoors.  Keep pets and children off of any treated surfaces until dry.

Kill Ticks Indoors With Drione and a Spray

Onslaught, Permethrin or Bifen IT products that are used outdoors can also be used indoors.
After picking up all toys, clothing, pet food and water dishes, treat indoors by spraying baseboards and a foot or two of wall from the baseboard out.  Also treat any effected furniture and floors beneath furniture.
Products labeled for indoor flea and tick use are water-safe for fabrics and safe for family and pets when applied properly and allowed to dry.
Ticks will crawl into any dark area, cracks and crevices they can find.  First treat all these areas with your spray.  After all treated areas have been allowed to dry, apply a professional insecticide dust into as many cracks and crevices possible.  Wipe up any dust you find on floors.

For cleanest, most effective results, use a hand bellows duster to apply dusts to cracks and crevices.

  • The extended nozzle on a hand bellows duster gives dusts a static charge, helping the particles to stick to all sides of any crevice or void where applied — instead of just falling to bottom of voids.
  • Dusters put more dust in areas needed, resulting in less waste, better safety and more accuracy.
  • A hand bellows duster makes the dusting job easier.  Many people skip the dusting process, trying to find the easy way out on tough jobs such as bed bugs, mites, pantry pests and ticks that hide where sprays cannot reach.

The two most popular dusters are the Crusader or Eatons Duster and the B&G Bulb Duster.
B&G Bulb Duster Model 1150 is usually needed for very large jobs.  Crusader/Eatons hand bellows duster is the most popular and also costs less.

All tick life stages can be found in cracks and crevices in the infested home.   Pay close attention to areas frequented by pets.  After your insecticide application has dried, apply Drione Dust or Evergreen Pyrethrum to all cracks and crevices, edges of carpets, under throw rugs, behind baseboards, behind door moldings and under and on pet bedding.  When used as directed, Drione Dust and Evergreen Pyrethrum are safe to use in homes where there are children and pets.  These dusts contains silica gel, which has a desiccating (or drying) action on ticks and other pests.  Be prepared to make second or third applications of your indoor tick control products.  Ticks can go without feeding for such long periods (during which time they stay concealed), they often do not contact treated surfaces before the application wears off.  This is why many people get discouraged while trying to manage an indoor tick infestation.

Tick Control Summary:

Treat outdoors where your family or dog might come into contact with ticks.  Treat all areas indoors (where ticks might come into contact) with Bifen IT, Onslaught or  Permethrin SFR.  Keep pets and children off all treated areas until dry.  After pesticide application has thoroughly dried, apply Drione Dust to cracks, crevices, hiding places as well as under and in pet beds.  Repeat spray and/or dust applications in 7 – 10 days as needed.  Ticks must be removed from dogs to obtain control — even outdoor only dogs which family members come in contact with on a daily basis.

  • Treat outdoors with Bifen IT, Onslaught or  Permethrin SFR, using a hose-end sprayer**Concentrate comparisons**
  • Treat indoors with same concentrate (using a pump type sprayer) and Drione Dust or Evergreen Pyrethrum
  • Remove ticks from dogs and their bedding.

Concentrate Comparisons:

  • Permethrin SFR (Permethrin Pro) is cheaper than other insecticides.  Can be used indoors and outdoors for fleas, ticks and other pests.  Has slight petroleum odor.  Up to 30 day residual indoors.
  • Bifen IT is odorless, can be used indoors and outdoors on lawns and ornamentals.  Indoors, spot treatment (baseboards, under furniture, etc.) is allowed but cannot be broadcast indoors for flea control.
    Up to 60 day residual indoors.
  • Onslaught is an odorless microencapsulated product that is labeled for over 200 pests.  Can be used indoors and outdoors.  Labeled for indoor fleas, ticks, spiders, bed bugs and others.  Can also be safely sprayed on most shrubs, trees and ornamentals.  FenvaStar EcoCap contains same active ingredient as Onslaught but Onslaught is a much higher concentration: 6.40% vs. FenvaStar 3.50%.
  • All three products will kill ticks.  Permethrin is cheaper (1 quart costs about the same as a pint of other products) while Onslaught needs only 1/2 ounce per gallon; Bifen requires 1/2 to 1 ounce per gallon; Permethrin SFR requires 1 ounce per gallon.
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