Beware: Ticks Love the Shrub in Your Yard and They’re Out for You this Summer!

Summertime means spending more time outdoors, enjoying picnics, mowing the lawn, and participating in ball games. However, it also means being extra cautious of ticks. Tick-borne diseases are not only sticking around but are also diversifying and becoming an increasingly significant problem within suburban areas.

The Threat from Invasive Plants

One major contributor to the threat is invasive plant species that attract more deer to crowded neighborhoods. The honeysuckle shrub, in particular, attracts deer that carry ticks into suburban yards.

Ticks are increasingly becoming a common issue in suburban areas. You no longer have to venture into the woods, as deer are now bringing tick-borne diseases to us.

In the Midwest, where tick researcher Brian F. Allan has performed his studies, the most dangerous tick is the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Female Lone Star ticks can transmit ehrlichiosis – a variety of illnesses caused by bacteria in the genus Ehrlichia.

Allan’s research discovered that there are five times as many white-tailed deer in neighborhoods with honeysuckle plants, and the density of infected ticks at the nymph stage was multiplied by 10. Other invasive plant species may be equally attractive to deer and ticks, but the connections are not yet known.

Staying Protected Against Tick-Borne Diseases

To avoid ticks and the diseases they carry, here are a few practical tips:

  • When walking in the woods, stay in the center of trails and avoid bushes.
  • Stay out of tall grass and piles of leaves.
  • After spending time outdoors in tick-infested areas, scan your body (using a mirror for hard-to-see areas) and take a hot shower as soon as possible.
  • Wash and dry your clothes on high heat settings to kill ticks.
  • Frequently check your pets and family members for ticks.

Don’t underestimate the risk of encountering ticks this summer. The Lone Star tick is aggressive and will actively approach its host. It can move faster than you might think, zig-zagging towards you before getting close enough to latch on.

Natural Tick Repellents and Removal Methods

One of the most effective ways to repel and remove ticks is by using neem oil, which is derived from the leaves of the neem tree. The bark and leaves of the tree are historically used in India’s Ayurvedic medicine to heal a range of ailments and as a natural insect repellent.

To create a natural tick repellent spray, combine ½ ounce of organic neem oil with the juice of one lemon and two cups of water. The effect should last up to eight hours. If you already have a tick, gently apply a few drops of neem oil onto the affected skin area, and the tick should disengage without difficulty.

In Summary

As the warmer months approach, be mindful of the increased risk of tick-borne diseases, particularly in suburban areas with invasive plant species. Remember to take the necessary precautions when venturing outdoors and consider natural solutions like neem oil to repel and remove ticks effectively. Staying vigilant and informed will help keep you and your family safe from these tenacious and potentially harmful pests.