Fleas and ticks are well-known enemies of pet owners, who spend about $9 billion annually in the U.S. trying to control fleas alone. Fleas and ticks are not merely annoyances; they carry diseases -- such as Lyme disease and spotted fever -- that can put your family’s lives in danger. When fleas and ticks infest your lawn, they turn your once peaceful and relaxing yard into their personal buffet. Chemical insecticides designed to control these pests contain harmful toxins that you may not want around your children. Using organic control methods is a safe solution that will effectively control fleas and ticks in lawns.
1. Cultural Control
Your lawn may be inviting ticks and fleas without you even knowing it. By altering conditions that favor the parasites, you will reduce their numbers. Debris and overhanging branches shade a lawn, which creates the ideal environment for these nuisances. Simply trimming the branches and keeping your lawn well maintained and free from high weeds, woodpiles, garbage and debris will help control fleas and ticks. If your lawn borders a wooded area, consider lining the property with gravel, tree bark or wood chips. This makeshift border deters ticks and fleas from entering your lawn.
2. Wildlife and Your Lawn
Domesticated animals are not the only carriers of ticks and fleas. Deer, rodents and other wildlife that pass through your property may bring ticks and fleas with them. One way to reduce the chance of wildlife wandering into your yard is to avoid leaving pet food left outside overnight, which attracts raccoons, opossums and other wildlife to the area. Also, regularly remove weeds and tall grass to discourage rodents from nesting, and seal cracks and holes in your home where rodents could enter. For a long-term control option, consider planting deer- and rabbit-resistant shrubs and trees at the edge of your property.
3. Diatomaceous Earth
Sprinkling diatomaceous earth in your yard, garden and flowerbeds will help control ticks and fleas invading your property. Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder made from crushed sedimentary rocks. These rocks are the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are a group of algae. As the ticks and fleas crawl through the diatomaceous earth, the crushed sedimentary rock causes the pests to dehydrate and die. For the best results, carefully follow the rate of application recommendations for the brand of diatomaceous earth you choose. Even though diatomaceous earth is safe and organic, it can cause respiratory problems if inhaled. To prevent potential problems, keep children and pets out of the area until the diatomaceous earth has settled.
Beneficial nematodes are microscopic roundworms that help control various lawn pests including ticks, fleas and grubs. They are not harmful to children, pets or beneficial insects. When ticks are exposed to these nematodes they experienced tissue degeneration and eventually death, suggests 1998 research from Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. To apply beneficial nematodes, simply mix with enough water to evenly disperse them across the area and then spray the entire lawn with the solution. Always follow the instructions on the label for best results.
- U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command: Tick Control Around the Home
- State of Connecticut: Managing Ticks on Your Property
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Entomopathogenic Nematodes as a Potential Biological Control Method for Ticks
- Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides: Managing Fleas Without Poisons
- Pet Care Naturally: Questions for Dr. Shawn -- Fleas and Ticks [
- Texas A&M University Department of Entomology: Controlling Fleas
- DoMyOwnPestControl.com: MotherEarth D Label
- Gardens Alive: Grub-Away Beneficial Nematodes Label
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images