As the March weather gets nicer, more and more ticks will wake up from their winter slumber and begin laying millions of eggs across the Hamptons and North Fork. For this reason, Brian Kelly, tick control expert and owner of East End Tick & Mosquito Control, is urging homeowners to take action this month by dealing with these pests before they strengthen their numbers and threaten to ruin your summer season. In March, Kelly recommends starting the annual battle against ticks with an application of Tick Shield, a new non-spray granular acaracide. Here, he explains this tick control method in more detail.
How exactly does Tick Shield work, and how is it different from other tick control methods East End Tick & Mosquito Control uses?
We use the granular acaracide to bridge the gap between spray season and winter/spring. We’re targeting the over-wintering ticks that are going to emerge from the leaf litter around your property…. As the weather warms up and on warm winter days, any of the ticks that have not fed will come out to feed when the temperature is above freezing. They spend their winters buried down under the leaves where they can survive the winter…. What we do is spread these granules into the leaf litter, the edges of your property, underneath your shrub beds where there’s usually mulch, so that on these warm winter days when the ticks are coming out and looking for that blood meal, the product is already there, waiting to kill the ticks before they even have a chance to get started.
It’s a great addition to spraying for ticks throughout the year and sort of sets the stage for the rest of the year by knocking that population down when they all start emerging. Time is running out to get your March granules put down before spray season starts, and if you’re looking to get the best control of your property, you’ll want to have us put those down.
It’s just another tool in our toolbox to control ticks because there’s no one magic bullet—you just don’t spray and there’s no ticks anymore, you don’t just put the granules down and there’s no ticks anymore. There’s something else we use called tick tubes, that’s a toilet paper roll that’s filled with chemically treated cotton. We put these tubes all around your property where mice live—under the deck, by the wood pile, under the shed—and the way it works is the mice and small rodents find this cotton to use as padding in their nest…and the next time that mouse or squirrel goes to lay down in their nest, it kills the ticks on the animal without hurting the animal, so it’s almost like putting Frontline on mice. The spraying, the granules, the tick tubes—all of these things together make a well-rounded tick control program for the season.
How important is the spring treatment season, and what would be the harm of waiting until summer to begin tick control measures?
If we get the ticks under control before Memorial Day weekend, you’ll have a great summer. If we’re starting on Memorial Day weekend, it’s a little bit more of an uphill battle. It’s not that we can’t still gain control for you to enjoy your property throughout the summer and ensure you’ll have a lot less tick encounters, but starting as early in the spring as possible is definitely recommended in order to gain some sort of control. The ticks that are coming out now need to feed, and then they’re going to lay eggs that are going to hatch in the summer. If we can control those ticks before they lay eggs, it really makes a big difference because ticks lay three, four, five thousand eggs in a clutch.
And scientists are saying that this year, in particular, is going to be a really bad year for ticks, because last year we had a tremendous amount of acorns. Every few years we have a huge crop of acorns, and that’s a lot of food to feed the rodents so the population is extremely robust. When we have a lot of rodents, we have a lot of ticks. This year, they’re saying we’re probably going to have a pretty bad year between global warming and having a big acorn crop last year…. That’s from a scientist at the Cary Institute, Dr. Richard Ostfeld, who studies ticks and tick-borne diseases.
Are Tick Shield and other tick control methods safe to use where children and pets are likely to play?
They are if used properly by licensed technicians, like we are. It’s still a pesticide, it still kills insects, so we have to be for very careful where we use them, such as too close to the water. We live in a very environmentally sensitive area. People and pets can all go back after the spray dries, which is usually within the hour on a sunny day; everybody can go right back outside and it won’t get transferred to anybody. As far as the granules go, we’re sprinkling them into the perimeter of the property and they work their way under the leaves. With the morning dew, they slowly disappear over time, but you’d have to find a bag of this stuff and eat it in order to really get hurt from it. We’ve never had a problem in 25 years of business with people or pets being poisoned or anything like that.
This is all we do; we specialize in ticks. This isn’t an add-on service for us like it might be for a landscaper. Yes, it’s true that there are plenty of people offering tick control, but it’s my recommendation that you use someone who does this for a living.
To learn more about East End Tick & Mosquito Control’s tick control methods visit tickcontrol.com or call one of the three East End offices at 631-287-9700 (Southampton), 631-324-9700 (East Hampton) and 631-765-9700 (Southold).