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Tick Control

In the Landscape

Ticks like dark, humid places—leaf litter, low bushes, tall grasses. Ticks do not thrive in sunny, mown areas.

● Remove leaf litter. Keep brush cleared.● Remove invasive bushes such as barberry and honeysuckle, which create safe havens for small rodents carrying ticks, protecting them from predators.● Keep grass mowed closely. ● Create a 3-foot-wide buffer of landscaping material such as stone or woodchips to separate lawn from tick-friendly areas. ● Move children’s play areas away from woods. ● Keep bird feeders away from highly traveled areas of yards (birds and rodents such as red squirrels and mice carry ticks). ● Use the wide variety of deer repellent devices and compounds available online or in gardening and hardware stores. Use deer-resistant plants. ● If possible, install a deer fence around your property.

Using Pesticides

Outdoor sprays and granules can be applied to individual properties from May through September.



The field of organic, non-synthetic botanical insecticides and pesticides is growing rapidly, and products containing oils from plants such as rosemary, peppermint, cedar, and eucalyptus are available. Research indicates that they are effective.


Contain chemicals such as permethrin and bifenthrin, known as synthetic pyrethroids. They are effective in killing ticks. However, users should be aware that most of these products have labels warning that they are toxic to fish, shellfish, and bees. There is growing concern that these substances may be a cause of bee colony collapse and have unintended harmful effects upon other organisms. For this reason they have been banned in Europe and in manhy U.S. communities. The decision as to whether to use products containing these chemicals is up to the individual property owner.


Contain synthetic pyrethroids.

On Rodents

Small rodents such as white footed mice, chipmunks, red squirrels, voles, and shrews carry the bacteria that cause tick-borne disease, and infect the ticks when ticks feed on them.

● Products like tick tubes and bait boxes to control ticks on rodents are effective in small areas if strategically placed (along walls, near wood piles).● However, they must be consistently replenished, for rodents are enthusiastic reproducers. In the March-November breeding season, a mouse can have several litters, with an average of 4–7 mice per litter.

About Damminix tubes...

● Cardboard tubes are filled with permethrin-greated cotton balls that mice collect to build their nests. Available at garden centers. Tubes should be placed no more than 30 fee apart. An average 1-acre yard requires about 24 tubes per application. ● Ticks feeding on nesting mice in the spring and fall are exposed to the permethrin and die. ● Birds that eat mice that have been exposed to permethrin are not harmed. ● Tick tubes are NOT effective for red squirrels, voles, and shrews, which do not build their nests as mice do. ● You can make tick tubes yourself with toilet paper tubes and cotton, and if you do, you should wear rubber gloves and a mask. Be sure that there are not cats in the area, for when it is wet, permethrin is highly toxic to cats. 

About "Bait boxes”...

● These contain a wick soaked in fipronil, a synthetic pesticide that kills ticks on mice (the mice are unharmed), and are available through licensed applicators. ● Put out in May, replace in August. A single dose will protect mice from infecting the ticks that feed on them with the bacteria that cause tick-borne disease for 40 days.

Not Effective

The following measures have been found to be ineffective for tick control:

● Guinea hens. Scientific studies have shown that guinea hens may feed more ticks than they eat. ● Burning fields. While ticks are suppressed after a field is burned, scientific analysis has shown that they soon return. Furthermore, extensive field burning would cause a fire hazard on Islesboro. ● 4-Poster Deer Treatment System. Maintaining enough 4-posters to effectively control ticks may be prohibitively expensive and labor-intensive.