Organic tick control: Does it work?

Organic tick control is a service that some tick control companies in Ct ( including us) offer.  In fact, it’s probably one of our most popular services.  The question is does it work and what should your expectations be if you have this service.  The following are my experiences with organic tick control.

Recently removed tick
Deer tick Envirocare Pest Control

In order to understand organic tick control you must understand what it is.  At it’s core it’s all based around 25b exempt products.  These exempt products are centered around a list of ingredients both active and inactive that the EPA feels are minimal risk.  When combined with one another the finished product becomes exempt from registration with the federal government.  Last, since the final product is exempt from registration it’s also exempt from testing.  To be exempt from testing and having to “prove” the product works is a win for the company selling it.  Testing can cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

My experience and why tick control is so important

I own Envirocare Pest Control and I’ve used each and every product we use at customers homes at my own home.  In the spring of 2018 I used an organic tick control product at my home and compared it against a pesticide labeled for ticks in Ct.   I did this because I wanted all to have an accurate real world reason to choose either a pesticide or an organic product to treat their yard.  The control of ticks in Ct is so important because we’re the home of the deer tick and the dog tick.  Of the two the deer tick is the one most people are concerned with due to the fact that they’re a carrier of Lyme disease.  However, the dog tick while not given as much press as the deer tick also carries disease.

Lyme disease and the life cycle of a deer tick is tricky as it happens over a 2 year process.  It begins when a nymph stage tick picks up the strain from an infected animal.  This animal is usually a mouse or other small rodent.   In the mean time and before the last stage of life the infected tick can pass Lyme to humans or animals that they bite.

How long does it take to pick up Lyme after a bite and what are the symptoms?

The experts don’t all agree, but in general the tick should be attached for 24 hours.  This 24 hour strain appears to be enough to pass the strain to humans, but the longer the tick stays the more likely sickness will happen.  The problem from there is that the symptoms of Lyme are flu like and difficult to diagnose.  The best bet is to see a doctor immediately, with lab tests and medications the disease can be controlled.  Last, its worth noting that many Lyme carriers don’t remember being bit or have the characteristic bulls eye mark at the bite location.

Where do ticks hid?

Connecticut is the epicenter of ticks and tick control. There are many places in the landscape that ticks prefer to stay, but the best place to find them is at the perimeter of the yard.  In the pest control industry we call this the ecotone area or the area where grass transitions into woods.  There are also other areas that ticks prefer over others such as stone walls, flower beds, dense vegetation and the bottom half of weeds and smaller woody ornamentals.   One place that ticks don’t like especially as the summer hits with full force is the lawn, survival rates in this area are low.

The process of my unofficial test

To start I needed to find ticks.  I made a tick dragging tool out of a 5′ x 7′ piece of corduroy, rope and an old broom handle.  I then dragged the tool around the yard perimeter and a bit into the woods.  I’ve never done this before, but to my surprise it worked and picked up some ticks.

The first tick drag resulted in a combination of both deer and dog ticks.  The total number of both was 6.  After the tick drag I applied an organic tick control product at the highest labeled rate.  It was applied at the property perimeter 10 ft into the woods and 5 ft onto the lawn.  It also included flower beds.  After one week I did another tick drag and found only 2 ticks.

Next,  I evaluated a registered pesticide at a neighbors home that is similar to my yard in every way.  The drag resulted in only 4 ticks.  The yard was then treated according to the label directions of the pesticide I chose.  The product I used had the active ingredient bifenthrin.  I then dragged the yard one week later and found zero ticks.

End results are dependent on you

My personal opinion is that both the products performed as expected in my unofficial test.  I would imagine the only exception would be the fact that I didn’t repeat the test to see what the residuals were like later in the month.  I also think that finding zero ticks may have been lucky.  No product is 100%, ever!

Last, to be fair I should also say that both my yard and the neighbors yard that I dragged were both treated the prior fall (by Envirocare Pest Control).  That treatment is likely the reason for the low number of ticks found during the initial drag. If I had done the test in an area never treated I’m sure I’d have found a higher number of ticks.  However, I still feel the results were interesting.

The question then becomes, do you choose a pesticide or an organic product?  If you choose the organic product there’s no doubt that you’ll be giving up some control, but in the end it’s your decision.  At Envirocare Pest Control we offer a choice.  Now you can make an informed decision.

If you have ticks and need service call Envirocare Pest Control at 1-888-879-6481.  We can help.