The summer season always brings an abundance of insects, as bugs thrive in the warm weather. For the most part, this is nothing more than a minor annoyance; however, large numbers of certain insects can be a serious cause for concern.
One bug to be on the lookout for is the tick, a bloodsucking parasite that latches on to your skin to feed. These insects are often found in grasses, bushes or wooded areas, and can be prevalent around your yard during the summer months.
Besides being gross (and tricky to remove), tick bites can also be dangerous. Ticks are known to transmit several diseases to humans, most notably Lyme Disease. Avoiding tick bites altogether is the most reliable way to protect yourself from bites and reducing the number of ticks in your yard is a great place to start. There are several treatments available for killing ticks around your home, but these often require repeat application which can be time-consuming and costly. Many anti-tick treatments also contain harsh insecticides which can be harmful to the environment.
Natural control methods are the best way to reduce your tick population long-term and having a healthy population of predatory species around your house is a fantastic, low-maintenance way of doing so.
What animals eat ticks?
There are several mammal, bird and insect species that dine on ticks. Many of these are commonly found around North America and could be a welcome addition to your property.
Do opossums eat ticks?
Opossums are perhaps the most efficient tick-killers out there, and it’s all thanks to their fastidious grooming habits.
These nocturnal creatures are highly adept at removing ticks from their skin; as soon as they find one, they quickly lick it off and swallow it. Opossums are so effective in their grooming habits that they are thought to kill 83-96% of all ticks that latch on to them, making a significant contribution to their control. Having plenty of opossums around can, therefore, help to reduce bites and incidents of Lyme disease in your area, making your yard a safer (and more pleasant) place to be.
Do chickens eat ticks?
Chickens are another natural predator of ticks, and can gobble up large numbers of the bugs in a single sitting. As insectivores, chickens are highly adept and seeking out and gulping down insect prey and can be a highly effective means of pest control around your home.
Buying a few chickens to roam your yard can help to keep the tick population to a minimum, with fresh eggs into the bargain.
Do birds eat ticks?
If you don’t fancy installing a flock of chickens in your yard, don’t worry – there are plenty of other birds out there that eat ticks. Several wild species found in the USA (such as woodpeckers, turkeys and guinea fowl) are natural predators of ticks and will consume large numbers of the insects if nesting nearby.
Placing bird feeders and nesting boxes around your yard can encourage birds to move in and set up home, providing unbeatable live-in tick control.
Do rodents eat ticks?
Several species of small rodents (such as squirrels and chipmunks) are commonly parasitized by ticks. Once the insects attach themselves to their skin, these animals will often remove and eat the bugs during grooming. Squirrels are particularly good at this, and have been found to remove the vast majority of ticks that latch on to them. Leave out some squirrel-friendly snacks (like peanuts or sunflower seeds) to encourage these critters into your garden and reduce the number of ticks living nearby.
Do other bugs eat ticks?
If there’s one creature that’s always plentiful during summer it’s bugs and, fortunately, there are lots of insect species that prey on ticks. Chiggers, wolf spiders, ants and various beetles native to North America are all natural predators of ticks and will work hard to reduce their numbers around your home. There are also a few microorganisms, such as certain types of fungi and nematodes, that parasitize and kill ticks.
You can encourage beneficial insect species to set up home in your garden by planting a wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. These will provide food and shelter for bugs, making them more likely to move in.
What animals should you keep out of your yard?
Some animals, like opossums, commonly play host to ticks. However, not all creatures are as good as getting rid of them and are far more tolerant of the insects. Rather than removing these passengers during grooming, certain animals will simply leave ticks where they are, providing them with a steady supply of food and somewhere to live.
Obviously, this is less than ideal if you’re trying to make your yard a more hostile environment for these pests, and such animals should be kept out as much as possible. Deer and mice are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to happily hosting ticks, so taking measure to keep them out of our garden can help to reduce the number of these bugs around your home.
During the summer months, you may find that your yard is suddenly overrun with ticks. These parasitic pests are known for latching on tight to their hosts, where they feed on blood and can potentially transmit diseases (such as Lyme disease) to humans.
Reducing the number of ticks around your yard can be accomplished with the help of natural predators, which gobble down the pests at an impressive rate. Mammalian species (such as squirrels and opossums), birds (such as chickens) and other insects (like ants, spiders and beetles) can all lend a helping hand when it comes to outdoor tick control.
Encourage populations of these critters around your home to keep the number of ticks to a minimum, so you can enjoy your garden to the full this summer!