From OSU Extension: Temper tick troubles with repellent or turkeys

by Lee Beers

I hope you are enjoying your first weeks of what is likely to be a long and troublesome tick season.  Back in March, you may have seen predictions about increased tick populations this year, and if you have been out in any fields or wooded areas, you know those predictions are proving to be accurate.  The increase in the tick population is directly linked to an increase in one of their favorites snacks – field mice.  In turn, the increase in mice populations are directly linked to one of their favorite snacks – acorns.  Oak trees had a mass year in 2015 in which they produced an abundance of acorns providing food needed for mice populations to increase.

We all know that ticks carry Lyme disease, which is nasty for sure, but did you know that ticks also have the potential to carry even more harmful pathogens?  The Powassan virus, anaplasmosis, Borreliadiseases and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are just a few diseases that have long-term symptoms or are even fatal.  These diseases, and the “ick” factor, are all reasons to keep ticks away from your property and off your kids.  Preventing ticks in your yard or property starts with removing their preferred habitat – tall grass and shrubs.  Keeping your grass moved short (if it ever dries out!) and removing yard debris will go a long way to keeping tick numbers low.  While not always practical, fencing your property to keep deer out will also help with ticks.

If you live in a rural area, and you are feeling a little exotic, Guinea fowl have been shown to be very effective at hunting out ticks and reducing their numbers.  If you prefer something a little more domestic, give turkeys a try as they also hunt ticks very effectively.

Whenever you venture into tick territory, be sure to apply a tick repellent such as DEET (at least 20 percent), picaridin or permethrin.  If you are outdoors a lot, you may consider using a permethrin laundry detergent that will provide a  few weeks of repellent to your clothes.  Don’t forget to check yourself and your kids for hitchhikers when you come in at night, paying special attention to your waist and your scalp.  Also keep your dog and cat up to date with a topical or collar treatment that will kill and repel ticks.

If you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by a tick, use a thin pair of tweezers and gently pull the tick by the mouth parts from your skin. Be sure to remove all the tick parts and then apply rubbing alcohol or iodine to the bite. Monitor the bite area for 30 days and call a doctor if you develop a rash, fever or aches within three to 30 days. Be safe out there!

Below are a few events that you should put on your calendar, whether you’re looking to add some plants to your garden or to learn better gardening techniques.  May 20 the Trumbull County Master Gardeners will be bringing back their popular plant sale.  We will have vegetable starts, perennials and the best plants selected by our Master Gardeners. Have a gardening question?  Stop out even if you are not in the market for new plants as we will have an onsite diagnostic clinic to evaluate your gardening pests. We will also have a small “trash-and-treasure” tent with various gardening tools for sale.  The sale will start at 9 a.m. and will wrap up around 2 p.m. or when the plants are gone.

Our Wednesdays in the Garden series is continuing throughout the spring and summer.  The next event is scheduled for May 24 when our talented Master Gardeners will be discussing choosing, growing and maintaining bearded irises.  Then on June 7, come learn all about pollinators and how to attract them to your garden with basic gardening techniques.  All Wednesdays in the Gardens events are free to the public and start at 6 p.m. at the Trumbull County Agriculture and Family Education Center in Cortland.

For information or to register, call the Ohio State University Trumbull County Extension office at 330.638.6783 or visit  Don’t forget to check out and “like” OSU Extension Trumbull County’s Facebook page for current programs and up-to-date information.

Written by Lee Beers, educator, OSU Extension Trumbull County.  He can be reached at [email protected].