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does native planting intead of lawn bring ticks?????

Posted by gailgardens z6TN (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 31, 06 at 16:18

An upstate gardening friend says that she can't replace her lawn with native grasses and plants (prairie) because she must mow weekly to keep out the ticks....Sounds reasonable, sort of....Would love your comments.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: does native planting intead of lawn bring ticks?????

You can get ticks on you in the lawn, too. My friend doesn't even garden and she got it from just walking on her lawn. I got a tick from sitting on a wood bench in my garden. Found out they like to live in wet wood as well as on plants. Mice carry the ticks, not just deer, and mice are everywhere.

No matter what you plant, you have to take precautions. What I do is take off my clothes as soon as I come into the house, never sit on furniture till I've showered, and never go to sleep until I've showered.

An ounce of prevention is worth a lifetime with this crippling disease. I'd rather do more laundry and take more showers than live with Lyme, unable to dance, walk, garden, sew. Too many people have it, and I don't want to be one of them.

RE: does native planting intead of lawn bring ticks?????

I'm afraid Susan is right. Ticks live on 'animals', not plants, so they don't care what you plant, native grasses or exotics. Short grass will give them less place to hide, but that applies to native grasses as well as lawn.

RE: does native planting intead of lawn bring ticks?????

It is not true that ticks live on animals, not plants. Ticks live in the environment and feed on animals, and then return to the environment to pupate. The larval stage, or the smallest ticks are no larger than the head of a pin, and they stay fairly low to the ground. They will climb to the end of a blade of grass, and quest for a host, usually mice or small mammals. They feed for a short time and drop off to use the protein from the bloodmeal to transform into nymphal ticks, slightly larger in size. The nymphs will climb a little higher to quest for a bloodmeal. They may end up on dogs, cats, or raccoons. After they fill, they drop off and overwinter until next year. As an adult (the next stage, about the size of a sesame seed)they will climb even higher in the weeds and grass to quest for one last blood meal to make and lay eggs. Adult ticks are usually found on white tailed deer, humans, dogs. After they fill, usually a few days, they will drop off and make eggs, and then die.

Its important to remember not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and that there are other diseases ticks can carry. An adult female tick must usually feed for more than 2 days in order to transfer the bacteria that causes Lyme. If removed properly before she has had a chance to feed for more than 48 hours, the risk of Lyme is very low.
There is a Tick Identification Service, part of the NYS dept of Health, that can ID any ticks you pull off your body. You can find them on the State website.

Ticks are out there, and one ay to attempt to avoid them is to have a buffer zone between the active areas of your lawn and the woods, or weeds. Buffer zones are created by laying down 24 inch widths of gravel between the weeds, or woods, and your lawn. You an use wood chips if you prefer, but gravel or stone is great because it heats up in the sun, and ticks dont like to be dry. Wood chips can hold moisture during a wet year like this year.

Other ways to avoid ticks are to do a body check every day, dont wear ripped clothing, tuck you pants into your socks, and wear light clothing so you can see them, and use the personal sprays that are approved to repel ticks. Remember, ticks do not jump, they quest by holding out their front legs and latching on to anything that passes by, then once they are on, they will crawl all over until they find a hole or gap in your clothing, like a ripped jean, above a sock, on your waist between your shirt and pants. You can also avoid them by avoiding brushing up to tall grasses, walking in the middle of paths when possible, and creating a buffer zone on your lawn. Children should also be taught to know what ticks look like, and notify an adult if they have one attached. The proper way to remove a tick is with tweezers.

If you need more information, the New York State Health Dept website has a lot of good information.

RE: does native planting intead of lawn bring ticks?????

Good tick info. I would just add that remember, it's the deer ticks that spread Lyme disease, not the other ticks. And to have deer ticks, you need to have deer. If you don't have deer coming into your yard, just worry about regular ticks. This year I did end up with two ticks on me, one for more than a day because I thought it was a skin tag. Yes, gross. I even have deer coming into the yard on a regular basis at night, but luckily I did not get Lyme disease or anything else. I would not let some ticks stop me from planting native shrubs and trees, that's for sure. For me, the less lawn, the better. Eventually I would like to have no lawn at all.

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