It is becoming common knowledge that ticks carry dangerous diseases. They can make cats, dogs, and humans sick when they come into our yards. Most people have heard of Lyme disease. It is a potentially serious illness that can become permanent and lead to medical issues and lifelong symptoms. But Lyme disease is not the only disease ticks can spread, not by a long shot. They're linked to Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and many more. So it is important that all residents of South Carolina be aware of how to keep ticks out of their yards.

a deer tick crawling on a leaf
a tick embedded in a dog

When a tick hatches it has 6 legs and is called a seed tick. In this stage of development, which is referred to as the larval stage, they climb on tiny animals and birds and take them as a host. These are the animals that are most likely to bring ticks into your yard, not deer.
 
Ticks don't stay on small animals. As they go from larvae to nymph, they leave their first host and seek out another. In nature, this may be a rabbit or a fox. In your yard, it is likely to be your dog or your cat. But be aware that ticks will crawl on you to get a blood meal as well, even though humans are less than ideal hosts for ticks.
 
If seed ticks get on a mouse, rat, or squirrel, they can get into your home, even if you don't have a pet. Rodents are common home invaders, and mice and rats are known to explore a house from top to bottom.

Wildlife Control

Since small animals bring ticks into our yards, it stands to reason that keeping small animals out of our yards or controlling where they congregate in our yards is key to prevention. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your exterior trash in sealed containers. Clean those containers routinely and make sure they are secure and can not be pushed over by an animal.

  • Clean up after outdoor grilling. Morsels draw animals in.

  • If you have a food source in your yard, such as a garden, a fruit tree, or berry bushes, install fencing around them to resist animals. Make sure the fencing goes at least a foot below the surface of the ground to prevent burrowing animals from getting under.

  • If you have dense landscaping, animals can hide in it. Spacing plants out can make your landscaping harder to hide in.

  • Yard clutter can give rodents a place to hide. Stow items away if possible.

  • Stacks of firewood, brush piles, and construction materials are all popular hiding places for wildlife because they feel like nature. Keep these items at least 20 feet from your exterior walls.

  • Any conditions that allow water to accumulate will provide a drinking hole for wildlife. A good example of this is a clogged or broken gutter or downspout.

  • If you have livestock in your yard, be aware that the foods you feed those animals can be attractive to wildlife.

  • Consider putting food down for your livestock only at meal times, and never overnight.

  • Putting a fence around your property can reduce wildlife traffic.

  • Keep bird feeders at least 20 feet away from your home and away from outside recreational areas.

 
 
 

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