Natural Tick Control Is it Possible?

IpmMan(5)March 25, 2012

Ticks have become more than just a nuisance due to the increasing prevalence of Lyme disease. Until recently Tick control was only possible with general wide spectrum insecticides such as the Pyrethroid Bifenthrin.

But there is hope. Two Fungi, Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae F52, and a product made from Alaska yellow cedar, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis called Nootkatone have been shown to be as effective as any pesticide now used to control Ticks.

The articles that follow have much more information. These mention that Nootkatone, Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae F52 are commercially available. I have not found Nootkatone labeled for Tick control, and its effectiveness seems to be waiting for a formulation that uses lignin (LE-Nootkatone, see article), that I cannot find. The only products that I can find that have Beauveria bassiana are not labeled for tick control and do not have the strains used in the field tests. I can find no products with Metarhizium anisopliae F52.

Still hope for a better way to control Ticks seems close.

If anyone knows of any of these products that are available with a Tick control label please let me know.

If I make it down to field day at the Ct. Agricultural Experiment Station this year, as I hope to do, I will grill Kirby Stafford for more information.

Better reading than I can provide:

Nootkatone LE

Fungal Tick control

Much more about Ticks

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The best means of control of ticks is to not provide an environment they like to live in. Keep the law cut short and do not over water. Keep low shrubs properly pruned, so they dry out quickly in the morning and after rains.
there is some indication that some ticks are developing immunities to the most common pesticdes used to control them and those are such broad spectrum poisons that they will also kill off many other, more beneficial, insects.

Here is a link that might be useful: tick control

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 7:08AM
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Yes kimmsr short grass and not providing optimum tick conditions are good for keeping tick populations low. Ticks however do not need that much moisture and can do very well in dry conditions, they may not actively breed and feed in long droughts, but they survive them easily. The only weather that really reduces the number of Ticks is long heavy periods of rain like we had in the NE last spring. Even Mosquitoes were reduced by the amount of rain we had last year, at least for most of the summer.

All well and good for small town landscapes to alter conditions, but many of my customers live in wooded areas and like a wild look. With woods and natural looking borders that are Tick breeding grounds. I am also against using broad spectrum pesticides to kill ticks, as I know sooner or later they will become immune as Mosquitoes did to DDT, and kill a lot of good predators as well. But when someone who's kids or they have been bitten and contracted Lyme disease they are not going to be concerned with the science of IPM for ticks, they are going to want them dead now. And until we develop effective natural controls, (and unfortunately probably long after) people in my area are going to chuck Bifenthrin everywhere there might be ticks.
Of course the best method of killing Ticks is a nice prescribed burn, but I am not suggesting this, don't want to be responsible for any forest fires or house losses.
There is so much to learn about these pests, and so many misconceptions about them the mind boggles. The seminar that I went to this February was eye opening. One of the long term believes that fencing out deer keep populations down was completely debunked as research showed it did the exact opposite.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 4:31PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Thanks for the links. I'll have to be on the lookout for the products. Makes one wonder what tonics are disappearing from the rainforests daily.

As a side note, nootkatensis has been moved from Chamaecyparis to Cupressus (Syn. Xanthocyparis) as of last summer.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 7:45PM
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Guineas eat ticks. They are great in the garden, and they wiped out a flea beetle infestation in my zinnia patch in a single day. Of course, they are noisy, and not feasible for many people, particularly those in an urban environment. But worth considering in a rural environment. And they are "natural", if you can consider their wacky antics as natural.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:12PM
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Thanks for the info Tsugajunkie. I just got to the point where I could spell Chamaecyparis without looking it up, dang those taxonomists.
Anyway Guinea Hen do eat Ticks but not nearly enough of them.
The original claim for this came from a poorly done study.
Newer research does not have them making any significant dent in the populations. Still the all weapon approach is often the best for most pests, so by all means use this foul. Just remember that they are noisy. And if they don't eat enough Ticks to warrant the din you can always eat them.
I suggest a nice Lemon Caper sauce.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 3:38PM
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alisande(Zone 4b)

About the same time these messages were posted a year ago, I discovered a deer tick embedded in my head. I don't know how it survived several shampoos, but ticks are hardy in the extreme. According to our local Vector Control people who examined the tick, it had been attached and feeding for at least four days. Ugh.

This was my fourth or fifth confirmed deer tick bite in two years. In that time I learned that the national medical community knows very little about tick-borne illness and how to treat it, and my local medical community knows even less. I'm certain my immune system is still battling something left by a tick. Some days it does better than others.

I dread the coming tick season. With snow and ice on the ground and below-freezing temperatures, it doesn't look as though I'll be bitten in March this year. But they'll be back. I'll be watching this thread and others for good ideas.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 11:20PM
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If Guinea Fowl are too noisy for you and your neighbors, there are many breeds of chickens that are good to excellent foragers who'll do a pretty good job at eating ticks and other insects. Barred Rocks, Black Australops are two that are also hardy and good egg layers.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:45PM
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2014 - Met 52 EC (Metarhizium anisopliae) is now available on the market for use in tick control. For the time being it can only be applied by a licensed applicator. Novozymes is the manufacturer, and it has been used for decades in the greenhouse industry, so it is not expensive. It has to be sprayed twice, a couple of weeks apart. They were going to market it under the name Tick-Ex, but they changed the name to Met 52.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 2:30PM
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