About flea & tick yard sprays
Nowadays the variety in tick and flea killer yard sprays is almost as great as the variety in pests. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there are indeed a lot of sprays on the market right now. What’s even more interesting is how much they can differ from one another. Tick and flea killer sprays today employ dozens of different chemical formulas to combat infestations. Some include plant-derived ingredients, while others are entirely made of synthetic chemicals.
Some are meant for high sun exposure. Others are intended just for shady outdoor areas. Still others claim to work both indoors and outdoors. Even more variations are meant for different types of soils, flora, weather, and so on.
For example, tick and flea sprays that contain methoprene are very powerful but work only in shady outdoor places. Sunlight breaks methoprene down, rendering it useless. Correct application is extremely important for pesticide effectiveness.
Pyrethroids are synthetic versions of pesticides derived from chrysanthemum plants (pyrethrins). Both pyrethroids and pyrethrins work against the arthropod (insects, arachnids, and crustaceans) nervous system, which ultimately causes death. Pyrethroids last longer and are more resistant to sunlight than pyrethrins. While pyrethrins are also effective, they typically need to be mixed with another ingredient to achieve the greatest flea/tick mortality.
Insect growth regulators work by disturbing the growth cycle and effectively preventing arthropod pests from reaching adulthood. Use them in conjunction with an adulticide (like a pyrethrin or pyrethroid) as they don’t usually kill adult pests. Methoprene is an IGR, but others include pyriproxifen and diflubenzuron.
How about organic and natural flea and tick treatments?
Natural and eco-friendly flea and tick killer sprays are preferred by a lot of homeowners. They are much better for the environment in general, for your yard and its flora, as well as for you, your family, your kids and your pets. However, they are also generally less powerful than the heavy-duty chemical sprays they compete with. This doesn’t mean that they are not powerful enough, however, it is advisable to pick such a spray with more attention to its power. There are a lot of “natural” products that are simply not powerful enough and don’t do much more than just deodorizing your yard.
All sprays, whether natural or synthetic, need to be applied carefully, adequately, and at the right time. Some naturally-derived treatments need to be applied in greater amounts of more often than synthetic pesticides. Whatever you choose, be sure to follow all directions.
- Pyrethrins (also called pyrethrum) are natural insecticides and are a major ingredient in organic lawn sprays.
- Plant-based oils– Peppermint oil and clove extract are considered effective natural ingredients for yard sprays. The chemical within clove extract is called Eugenol and it is a pesticide that is especially effective against fleas. Additionally, both peppermint and clove extract can help with mosquitoes. Lemongrass, cedar, thyme, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and geraniol are essential oils with the potential to repel ticks and fleas. These are not natural insecticides; only repellents. In addition, garlic oil is available as a yard spray and is considered an effective
- Nematodes are another effective natural spray treatment against ticks and fleas. They are microscopic beneficial worms that are deadly to ticks and fleas but safe for humans and other large animals.
- The Fungi Metarhizium brunneum and Metarhizium anisopliae are considered effective against ticks, especially. Since they are already present in the soil, their addition to your yard won’t damage plants or beneficial insects.
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can also be used to kill fleas and ticks (and other arthropod pests). It is a powder, not a spray. DE destroys exoskeletons so you should not spread it throughout your yard; just the worst flea and tick zones.
Beware of insecticidal soap recipes. Homemade soaps can cause damage to plants. It's safer to buy a commercially prepared insecticidal soap that has been properly tested for plant toxicity.
Where should tick and flea garden killer sprays be applied?
A lot of the problems homeowners face with tick and flea killer sprays is that they are not applying them correctly. One product may not work the same way as another, so you must always read the label directions carefully before applying any type of insecticide or repellent. Research their ingredients. As mentioned, some products are appropriate only in shady areas, while others can be used in the sun. There are products that work only in dry weather (e.g., oils), and others that are best suited to a moist climate (e.g., nematodes). To know how best to use your tick and flea yard killer spray you should carefully research each individual product.
However, to give you some general guidelines here’s one thing that you should also consider:
ticks and fleas don’t just invade your entire yard. They don’t just walk around the grass like ants. Instead, both ticks and fleas are known to avoid direct sunlight and short grass that has a lot of movement over it.
Fleas larvae cannot live in soil with a temperature over 95F. While it is true that both ticks and fleas live in areas with a significant animal presence (they need food, after all), they lay their eggs in places where there is a lot of shade and little movement.
So, it’s often wasteful and unnecessary to spray the entire yard. Instead, it’s much more effective and efficient to target the specific areas you know are most likely to house tick and flea larvae and eggs:
- Shaded places such as underneath decks or sheds,
- along the foundation of your home,
- dog houses or dog kennels,
- high grass and shrubberies, and so on.
Also, it’s worth considering that dampness is also attractive to both fleas and ticks. Flea larvae will die if ambient humidity is below 50%. For your yard, this means that moist, dark areas are much more likely to house tick or flea larvae and eggs.
What are some of the alternative products that you can use instead of a flea and tick garden spray?
We already briefly mentioned nematodes, but they deserve a bit more information. The beneficial varieties of these tiny parasitic worms feed on fleas and ticks, and are completely harmless to people and other vertebrates. They cannot infect vertebrate animals; only arthropods. They are also very easy and simple to apply – just water the target area first, spray the beneficial nematodes, and water the area again. That’s it! They do, however, require particular moisture and temperature conditions for storage and use. You must use them very soon after they arrive. They cannot survive cold temperatures (ideal is between 55 and 90F), so be sure not to spray them too early in the year. They also cannot survive in direct sunlight. Make sure you’re getting the right nematodes for your situation. Some specialized on a certain type of pest.
Tick tubes should also be considered as a valid prevention method and they are rather ingenious, too. These are essentially just tubes filled with cotton. The cotton itself, in turn, is coated with a pesticide, usually permethrin. The tick tubes don’t actually attract fleas or ticks themselves, but instead attract small mammals like mice or squirrels. Such mammals love to use cotton in their nests, so they are usually quick to grab them. In doing so, they inadvertently get permethrin on their fur – don’t worry, it’s harmless to mammals. Because they are flea and tick targets, they have just become mobile tick and flea killing stations. Tick tubes shouldn’t be the only method used for a tick or flea infestation, but should instead be part of a larger management strategy.
Yes, plants. While the plants from which tick-repellent oils are derived (i.e., chrysanthemum, peppermint, clove, garlic, thyme, geranium) and some additional plants (e.g., lavender, juniper) may have slight tick-repellent properties, no studies have demonstrated their effectiveness against ticks or fleas. However, one way to keep fleas and ticks out of the yard is to keep their carriers (deer, mice, birds, etc.) out of the yard. There is no substitute for a good fence. However, in the absence of a fence, deer-resistant plants are a decent alternative. These include:
- California poppy,
- fountain grass,
- ornamental onion,
- globe thistle,
- and Russian sage. Finding the best tick killer for your yard can be a challenge. The sheer number of products on the market is often overwhelming. It’s tempting to just buy the highest rated product on Amazon, or a product that a friend has recommended, or just the first flea and tick garden killer spray you see online.
Flea and tick yard spray buying guide
However, this is not the best strategy. As we’ve already mentioned, tick and flea garden killer sprays come in a large variety and can include dozens of different ingredients and chemicals and they are formulated for specific situations (e.g., large yards, small yards, woodland areas adjacent to yards, shade, open areas). Some work better on some species of fleas and ticks and don’t do as well against others.
Sprays come in liquid and granular formulations. Both are effective, but liquid formulations are typically more effective.
While it’s a good idea to start by looking at high rated products or products from well-known and trustworthy brands, always follow that up with an extensive look at their ingredients and what each does. Some pose risks to human and pet health or the environment. It’s also important to be sure the ingredients are suited to your home, garden, and tick or flea situation.
No flea and tick killer spray is “perfect” for every situation – some are better in some cases, others are better in others. The quickest path to success is to match the strengths of the product with the needs of your yard. This is going to take time and research, but it will save you much more time and money in buying and spraying with the wrong product.
Price should also be a consideration. Flea and tick garden killer sprays, unfortunately, aren’t one-and-done products. Some last longer than others, but they all must to be applied more than once. So, when considering the spray’s price you should also calculate its volume, how many square feet it covers, how many square feet you’ll need to spray, how long the effects last, and how often you’ll need to reapply it. Don’t forget the cost of the proper application device. Spray volume and pressure affect how well your chosen product works. By factoring all these into your considerations you can determine the yearly cost of each product to compare.
Make sure to check your state regulations. Some states have stricter controls on flea and tick killer sprays than others. To find out the rules in your state, reach out to the state pesticide regulatory agency. Check these regulations before buying anything. You don’t want to spend money on a product and realize too late that it’s illegal to use.
Next, internet reviews. We tend to go through hundreds of online reviews for each article we write so that we can give you adequate information. We know first-hand how frustrating, subjective, and lacking context online customer reviews can be. Beware of reviews stating that products are completely ineffective. They are usually written by consumers who misused the product. Make sure to read multiple reviews from different sites and pay attention to the details.
Finally, there are different brands out there. Highly regarded brands are a good choice. However, if you do the rest of the research mentioned above, brand should not be the deciding factor. Chances are, you’ll end up with a brand already well-known for good products.One of the most important rules of war is that you should always know your enemy as well as you know yourself. The manufacturers of tick and flea sprays know that very well. Or at least the good ones do. As a customer, however, you should know this quite well too, so that you know which flea and tick spray is for you and which ones are not.
Other useful information on ticks and fleas
There are over 850 different tick species spread across the globe. Around 80 of them are found in the United States and 12 of those are of medical or veterinary importance. They are a blood-feeding parasite that preys on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians alike. As such, you can find them in grassy areas that such animals pass through, but don’t frequently trample on. Ticks transmit a wide range of diseases and pathogens, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
This means that you should not only effectively spray your yard, garden and lawn against them, but that you should frequently inspect your own body after spending time outdoors.
Ticks are not insects. Rather, they are arachnids, like spiders and scorpions. All ticks have eight legs (insects have six). There are a few different species you’re likely to encounter.
- Adult American dog ticks are usually about half a centimeter long and reddish brown in color. Females can grow to over a centimeter after they have fed while males tend not to grow much post-feeding. Dog ticks transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
- Blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) are about half the size of a dog tick. Deer ticks transmit Lyme disease.
- Lone star ticks are about the same size as a deer tick and adult females have a small white spot in the middle of their backs. They can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but they are less likely to do so than dog ticks.
To lessen the chances of getting bitten by a tick, you should always wear long socks, closed-toed shoes, and long pants when walking through grass. Tuck your pants into your socks and tape the seam between them for extra protection. Long-sleeved shirts are also advisable. Wear repellent (mostly on clothes, but some on exposed skin). The best contain 10-30% DEET. Another good idea is to always wear light colors. They don’t repel ticks (how easy would that be?) but they do make them easier to spot. If you are bitten by a tick, never try to remove them with your fingers. Using tweezers, grab the tick close to your skin and pull it straight out with steady pressure.
Don’t twist or jerk the tick as its mouthparts can remain in your skin. Also, be careful not to squeeze the tick as its fluids can cause infectious. After you remove the tick, clean the area with alcohol and wash your hands with soap and water. If you develop fever and/or other illness soon after, consult a doctor.
Fleas commonly torment dog and cat owners, but they are indiscriminate parasites that will happily feed on human blood if the opportunity arises. They have a somewhat flexible life cycle and can wait for weeks before emerging from their cocoon. This makes them very adaptable to their environment and very difficult to get rid of. The cocoon protects them from insecticides, making pupae virtually immune to pest control treatment. Additionally, while insect growth regulators prevent eggs from hatching or kill larvae, they are less effective against adults. On the flip side, adulticides may be less effective against eggs and larvae. This means that you will need to use both types of control when treating your property for fleas.
Adult fleas can survive for up to two weeks without feeding, while pupae can survive in cocoons for up to 5 months. This is another reason why they are so hard to get rid of. In addition, females lay up to 50 eggs at a time. Even a single flea left alive can rapidly spark a new infestation.We talked about the specific areas in your lawn that you should target with your tick and flea garden killer sprays, but we didn’t talk much about how exactly you should do it. You should always follow the instructions on the spray itself. As we said, each spray is different, so its own instructions are the best guidelines you can have. But to further help you out with some tips, here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.
Tips for using yard spray for fleas & ticks
When you’re applying a flea and tick garden killer spray, whether it’s organic or synthetic, it’s advisable to be cautious and restrict your pets’ and kids’ access to the yard. A lot of sprays claim to be completely safe for children and pets. However, experts advise that pets and kids should stay away from the treated area for anywhere between 12 and 48 hours. The heavier and stronger the spray is, as well as the calmer the weather is, the longer you should wait.
Pet owners, in particular, should carefully observe their pets’ behavior and physical conditions after running in a freshly sprayed garden. Even if the spray has dried and enough time has passed, some dogs and (especially) cats can sometimes have allergic reactions to the chemicals in the spray.
Even natural sprays are known to cause such reactions. Typical allergic reactions to lawn pesticides include rash on the paws and stomach.
Most flea and tick garden killer sprays are relatively safe for people, but you still should avoid getting them on your skin or clothes. Wear rubber gloves, a protective smock, and even a face mask to apply the spray.
Keep your home’s windows closed after you’ve sprayed your garden or lawn with a tick and flea garden killer spray.
What are some of the preventive measures that can be taken so that you don’t get ticks or fleas in the first place?
Many tick and flea garden killer sprays are advertised not just for temporary treatment but for long-term prevention. That’s rarely accurate. Lawn sprays often require regular re-application, typically once in late spring/early summer and again in the fall. However, there are other steps you can take to reduce flea and tick numbers.
Having the best flea and tick lawn treatment at your disposal can make your life much easier and more enjoyable. What’s more, it can also save you, your family, and your pets from irritation and potential illness. Finding the best flea and tick killer for yards isn’t easy as there are many factors to take into account.
- Mow your lawn as short as possible. Both fleas and ticks prefer taller grass that provides shade.
- Clear your yard or garden of any garbage and debris. These items can provide shade, prevent foot traffic, and allow moisture to build up.
- Wash the edges of your home’s foundations frequently and thoroughly. This will dislodge any fleas, ticks, or eggs.
- If you live next to a wooded area or your neighbor has overgrown shrubbery, consider fencing your yard. Alternatively, you can lay a gravel or wood-chip border at least 3 feet wide. This will make it harder for ticks and fleas to cross into your property. This works because it creates a hot, dry barrier between tick habitat and your lawn. The wood chips or stones heat up to temperatures that fleas and ticks will avoid. You should be careful about what you put in a wood-chip border, however. Damp or shredded mulches are much like leaf litter: ideal tick habitat. Also, you can lace the border with pesticides or natural insect repellents to further increase their effectiveness.
We hope this article has helped you. Don’t be disheartened if one product or another disappoint you, however. Remember that weather and soil type have an effect on how well pesticides and repellents work. That’s why we’ve expanded our list from just a top 3 to include 7 runner-up products.
Here are our top 3 flea and tick yard spray suggestions:
- The Wondercide Flea Tick Yard Spray is an eco-friendly natural product that is unlikely to hurt your plants, pets, or kids even when it’s still wet. It’s very safe and leaves a pleasant aroma behind. It is a repellent rather than an insecticide, a bit pricey, and it doesn’t last too long, so frequent reapplication is needed.
- BioAdvanced Complete Insect Killer for Soil and Turf is a very strong tick and flea killer spray that utilizes a two-way formula for dealing with insects. It attacks all stages of the insects’ development, from larvae to pupae to adults but is ineffective against eggs. It also exterminates insects both below and above ground.
- And the Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer For Lawns & Landscapes is another powerful tick and flea treatment spray that uses a dual approach. Attacking insects in the soil and on the surface, the Spetracide Triazicide is great for creating a powerful barrier effect around your home and property.