Ticks are nothing to be trifled with. Lyme disease, the newly identified Powassan virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and many other diseases are transmitted by this pesky arachnid.
Farmers, ranchers and others who work in the agricultural industry must be especially vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves against ticks. Many people believe that ticks fall out of trees and land on people’s heads. The truth is, ticks live in grasses and low shrubs. When a person walks through grass or shrubs a tick will jump out and land on an individual and make its way up the person’s body.
If you are working outside, bug or mosquito spray is not going to do the trick. Instead, you need to wear a repellent specifically designed for ticks. It also is important to remember that tick repellent is meant to be applied to clothing, not to the skin.
The appropriate clothing also is a powerful weapon in the fight against ticks. Be sure to wear long pants, sock and boots when working in grass or shrubs. For added protection, make sure to tuck your pants into your socks. Finally, remember that ticks cannot transmit disease unless they are attached to a person and feeding off that person so always do a body-check after coming in from the outside.
When it comes to breeding grounds for ticks, nothing compares to farms. Cattle, dogs, sheep and farmers themselves all provide the blood ticks live off of. Ticks have relatively few enemies in the animal kingdom so farmers must take matters into their own hands if they wish to reduce the population of ticks.
What follows are some steps to take to manage the tick population on your farm:
- Keep all areas where tall grass grows mowed and dry. You also should consider applying tick granules to the grass.
- Treat house pets with flea and tick repellent.
- Keep guinea fowl or chickens in your yard or near the house since these are a tick’s natural predators.
- Construct nesting boxes and raptor perches for hawks and owls. Hawks and raptors reduce the number of small rodents and mammals on the farm which reduce the tick population since ticks live off these animals.
- Vaccinate all cattle over one month of age and dip or spray cattle with tick treatment.
- Deer can be carriers of ticks so build bait stations for deer that require deer to rubs their heads against a pesticide dispenser or a citrus oil extract. This will kill the ticks on a deer.