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Controlling ticks around your house this summer

From preventing overgrown lawns and brush to applying pesticides, there are plenty of options to help keep your backyard tick-free this summer.

WHITE CLOUD, Mich. — Spending time outside is one of the beauties of West Michigan. That beauty, however, comes with a tiny, but known pest – ticks.

Ticks and tick-borne illnesses have been on the rise across West Michigan the last several years, specifically an expansion of the blacklegged tick – the type that can carry Lyme Disease – across the entire Lower Peninsula.

For pest companies in West Michigan, such as Pest Professor – located in White Cloud – it’s been progressively worse each year.

“From the time that I’ve been doing this for around 13 years, and this year has been, in particular, on an extreme level in terms of customer calls,” said Alec Dakin, owner of Pest Professor.

Our changing climate is in large part to blame for this expansion.

“These environmental conditions such as droughts and consistent warm it allows insects and arachnids like ticks to grow in population,” Dakin said.

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Homeowners do have options to reduce any tick experience, ranging from simple to extensive steps. First, easy clean-up around your house.

“Making sure again that you're keeping your lawn short and that you are preventing maybe bushes and trees from overgrowing your lawns, et cetera,” Dakin said. “Those are going to be very important mechanical and cultural controls in which you can practice for preventing or minimizing your risk for ticks.”

There’s also biological control.

“And by biological controls, I mean, for example, we have chickens. So these chickens are they will just be voracious in attacking any insects and bugs on the ground and arachnids, but in particular, they go after ticks,” Dakin explained.

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Pesticides, professional or at-home, are options, too.

“There are two different kinds of methodologies that you can attack treating pest management when you start to use pesticides,” Dakin remarked.

The methodologies come down to environmental impact.

“The first one could be conventional use pesticides, which are synthetic, they're a little more impactful on the environment,” Dakin explained. “There's also using more sustainable, environmentally-friendly pesticides, which we also do with our company. And in they're just, they're not going to last as long in the environment that they're applied. Because they're a natural product,” he added.

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No matter the choice, it’s important to remain mindful after being outside.

Here are simple reminders if spending time outside.

  • Avoid tick-infested locations, such as heavily wooded spots or areas with tall grass.
  • Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.
  • Wear tighter fitting clothing, tuck pant legs into socks, and wear lighter colored clothing.
  • Do a tick check, including on kids and pets.

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