By Jodi Ralston
One of the biggest events of the #summer is coming up, the spectacular visual displays on the night of July 4. You may be concerned about not overlooking any detail from the perfect arrangement and timing of the pyrotechnic show to the positioning of your guests for maximum viewing pleasure and safety. However, you might be overlooking a tiny risk to their enjoyment and health, and so will they. People attending your firework show will be spreading out blankets or parking themselves in lawn chairs on the property. Their eyes will be on the sky, not on the ground—which is exactly where they should be focused. However, while distracted, they may pick up unwanted passengers in the form of a tick to remove once they get home. Worse, they may become exposed to a tick-borne disease or illness like Lyme disease or even tick paralysis. You can help make this Fourth of July celebration a tick-free zone and a positive experience with the following tips.
First, check the yard for ticks. Since the unfed, adult deer tick, for example, ranges from 2 mm to 5 mm in size—not much larger than the torch’s flame on the back of a dime—they will be almost impossible to spot with the naked eye. However, ticks are always on the lookout for prey. Use that instinct against them by making a simple tool to detect tick infestations. Take a rod or stick and attach a white towel to it. Run the cloth over sections of the lawn that you suspect may hold ticks. Usually, the ticks will climb onto the cloth because the movement and texture indicate possible prey. According to the National Park Service, conduct this test when conditions are more favorable for
collection—ambient temperatures above 50F and when the vegetation is dry. This test will help you determine the likelihood of a tick infestation.
Next, tackle the areas where ticks live. Just as it is suggested to remove standing water to remove breeding grounds for mosquitoes, another #4thofJuly insect nuisance, you can remove the materials that attract ticks or their hosts. Ticks prefer moisture and darkness over sunny spots, so remove any leaf litter or moist plant litter that can create a haven for ticks. Some ticks hang out around potential feeding grounds or come in on host animals like mice. To help reduce the number bought onto your property, remove potential food sources - poorly sealed trash cans or leftover seed under bird feeders - that attract the host animals.
Then, mow the lawn. You may have mowed not long ago, but give the grass some extra attention now. Ticks love tall vegetation. They will climb onto this and lay in wait for passing prey, and the Fourth of July celebration offers a smorgasbord of opportunity. By keeping the grass short, you reduce tick hunting grounds. This also has the added benefit of making it easier for your guests to spread their blankets or position their seating arrangements for the #fireworks display.
Finally, have the lawn professionally treated. Chemically treating property is usually the best bet to reduce tick population. Pest control experts will locate and treat the likeliest areas with sprays that kill ticks, effectively up to 85% to 95% of the population. For those living in #Fairfield or the three Ws—#Weston, #Westport, and #Wilton—the professional pest-control service #BugsandBlades can treat your lawn and outside property. Their natural tick control products are non-toxic and children friendly, so you don’t have to worry about the effects on the guests lounging on the lawn, only their effects on the ticks.
These small details will have a big impact on the impression your guests take home with them. You want them to keep their eyes on the sky and a smile on their lips, not have their experience soured by the need to remove a tick or their worry about tick-borne diseases. Carry out these tips, and whether you are hosting thousands or just one on your property, you can dramatically reduce the chance that your guests take home some unwanted memories in the form of an uninvited spectator, the tick.
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