Ticks carry a variety of diseases, including tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease, among others, and can transmit these dangerous diseases to you, your pets, and your visitors.
Because of that, it’s essential to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
In this blog, we’ve compiled our top recommendations for how to get rid of ticks in the yard based on our extensive field experience.
By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a list of powerful DIY tips that actually work, and an idea of when to call professionals, if you need backup.
- Ticks usually enter a yard via small rodents or deer or domestic pets who come into contact with other infested pets or wild animals.
- You can get rid of ticks in your yard with home remedies like eucalyptus, neem oil, and diatomaceous earth or with chemicals like insecticides and tick foggers if DIY methods don’t work.
- Prevent ticks by having your yard professionally treated, practicing good lawn hygiene, and installing exclusion fencing to keep pests out.
- Call an exterminator if your DIY methods have failed or if you need more assistance.
What are Ticks?
Ticks are members of the arachnid family, which means they’re closely related to mites, spiders, and scorpions.
According to current estimates, there are about 850 tick species worldwide and 90 in the US. Of those ticks, however, only about 60 species are known to bite and spread disease to people. The most common type of tick in the US is the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), sometimes called the wood tick.
Other common ticks are the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), also known as the deer tick, which is known for transmitting Lyme disease; the rocky mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni); and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), which is one of the most common tick species in the world.
Different species of ticks look different. Some ticks are brown, white, gray, black, or reddish-brown, while others are yellow.
Most adults have oval-shaped, flat, wingless bodies. When they have a blood mean, their bodies swell and become large and taut, like a kernel of corn. Interestingly, all ticks feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded vertebrates, like people and domestic pets.
While ticks are only about the size of a grain of sand, these tiny pests can bite humans and animals at every stage of their life cycle.
What Attracts Ticks to My Yard?
Dealing with a sudden tick infestation? Here are the most common reasons why ticks are drawn to your yard:
Ticks thrive during the spring and summer months when the temperatures are warm, and the humidity is high.
If you’ve noticed a new tick infestation in your yard, it could be due to weather conditions and humidity in your area.
Ticks are tiny creatures, and they require shelter to stay safe from the elements.
They do not like direct sunlight, so they thrive in shady, humid areas.
They are prevalent in yards that offer debris like woodpiles, plant borders, and tall, unmowed grass.
If you have pets, ticks are more likely to be a reality in your space.
When pets go outside or join you on hikes or walks, ticks may latch onto them, hide in their hair, and stay there for days as they take a blood meal.
Once they’ve finished feeding, they’ll detach from your pet and take shelter in your yard (or home).
How Can I Check if My Yard Has Ticks?
Not sure how to check for ticks in your yard? Follow these tips:
1. Conduct a towel drag
To determine if you have ticks in your yard, drag a white towel along your mowed grass and check it for ticks every 1-3’.
Ticks that attach to the towel will look like tiny brown, black, or red specs.
2. Use a flashlight to visually inspect for ticks
Use a flashlight to inspect dark, shady areas on the perimeter of your property where ticks might be hiding.
Pay special attention to places like the tips of tall grass and the edges of shrubs.
3. Look for ticks on you and your pets
If you have a tick infestation, you may notice live ticks on yourself and your pets.
To conduct a tick inspection, follow these tips:
- After spending time outside, use a mirror to check your (or your pet’s) body.
- Pay special attention to warm, moist areas like the armpits, scalp, and groin, where ticks like to hide.
- If embedded ticks are present, they’ll look like tiny brown or black spots and may feel like a hard lump in the skin.
- To remove the embedded tick, follow the CDC’s guidance.
Remember that ticks range in size from 1-2 mm to about 10 mm, so the actual tick can look different depending on the species and how embedded it is in the skin.
4. Know how to identify tick bites
In addition to noticing live ticks, you may also see signs of tick bites on yourself and your pets.
Most tick bites are painless and will cause only minor symptoms, which may include the following:
- Changes in skin color
- Sores on the skin
In other cases, tick bites may go unnoticed until signs of tick-borne illnesses appear.
How to Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard
Natural Home Remedies
If you want to get rid of ticks without pesticides or chemicals, there are many eco-friendly, pet-safe options to choose from.
Here are a few of the effective DIY options we’ve tested during our fieldwork:
1. Make a cedar oil spray
Cedar oil is a highly effective, non-toxic, and natural tick repellent. It’s safe for use on kids and pets and will repel ticks without harsh pesticides or chemicals.
If you want to protect yourself and your pets from ticks, simply spray it on before hiking or spending time outdoors.
Purchase pre-mixed cedar oil tick spray (we like this spray, which does contain more than just cedar oil), or make your own by grabbing a spray bottle full of water and mixing in 60 drops of pure cedarwood essential oil and 1 ounce of pure grain alcohol.
Pros: Effective, non-toxic, pet-safe, kid-safe, affordable
Cons: Strong-smelling, may irritate sensitive skin, must be reapplied regularly
2. Use neem or eucalyptus oil
Neem and eucalyptus oils are strong-smelling, tick-killing powerhouses that will eliminate ticks on contact.
To make your own homemade tick spray for your yard, grab a spray bottle and fill it with 4 ounces of purified water.
Add 30 drops of pure neem or eucalyptus oil, and shake the mixture well. Spray it anywhere you’ve noticed tick activity.
Pros: Effective, kills ticks on contact, fast-acting, affordable
Cons: Neem and eucalyptus oil are both strong-smelling and may stain porous surfaces or irritate sensitive skin
3. Spread Diatomaceous Earth around your space
Diatomaceous Earth, or DE for short, is a safe, non-toxic powder made from pulverized fossils.
While DE is safe for kids and pets (you can even buy food-grade varieties), DE is deadly for pests.
When pests like ticks crawl through lines of DE, the powder sticks to their bodies, dehydrating them and killing them in less than a day.
To use DE to kill ticks on your property, sprinkle a thick line of the powder (we recommend this brand) along fence lines or between wooded and grassy areas.
Pros: Effective, safe, non-toxic
Cons: Powder can be messy to apply, must be re-applied regularly after a rain or heavy watering
4. Use a natural tick-killer
The natural oils in these products provide quick tick knockdown and residual repellency to keep ticks from returning.
Additionally, it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, so you can use it outdoors, near water, or near living spaces.
Pros: Kills ticks quickly, repels mosquitos, easy to use, safe for use around kids and pets, will not leave residue
Cons: Should not be applied on windy days or used on edible vegetation
5. Place tick tubes around your property
Tick tubes are a unique form of eco-friendly, non-toxic tick protection.
Thermacell tick control tubes kill common species like deer ticks and can help prevent the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
They’re also ideal for large spaces: 24 low-profile tubes will kill and prevent ticks for up to 1 acre.
Pros: No chemicals or pesticides, safe for use around kids and pets, easy to use
Cons: Must be replaced annually, will not eliminate tick infestations on their own
If home remedies don’t work, use these pesticides to kill ticks fast:
Acaricides are a type of pesticide formulated for use on ticks.
According to the CDC, using acaricides is an effective way to reduce tick populations and prevent re-infestation, especially when combined with other tick-prevention strategies, like habitat modification.
Pros: Effective, fast-acting, kills ticks on contact
Cons: Highly toxic, dangerous for use around kids and pets, should be used with the help of a professional pest management company
7. Use a tick fogger
Tick foggers kill ticks on contact, so they’re a great way to get rid of ticks instantly.
For best results, look for an EPA-registered fogger that deploys insecticide formulas targeted for use on ticks.
Pros: Fast-acting, effective, kills ticks and other pests
Cons: Can be dangerous to use, not safe for use around kids and pets, leaves toxic pesticide residue behind
8. Try a controlled-release insecticide
One product we’ve found to be highly effective is CSI Cyzmic CS Controlled Release Insecticide.
This formula’s microencapsulated suspension allows it to adhere to the bodies of ticks and provide fast knockdown. It also kills ants, cockroaches, silverfish, stick bugs, and more.
Pros: Effective, fast-acting, low odor, lasts for 21 days, effective for use both indoors and outdoors
Cons: Highly toxic, should be applied while wearing personal protective equipment, not safe for use around kids and pets
9. Use an insect growth regulator
Unlike pesticides, which kill adult ticks, insect growth regulators (IGRs) disrupt the ticks at all stages of the lifecycle.
In addition to killing adult ticks, an IGR like Syngenta Archer Growth Regulator will also kill tick larvae and eggs, making even severe infestations easier to manage.
Pros: Effective, fast-acting, long-lasting, kills ticks on contact
Cons: Requires PPE to apply, not safe for use around kids and pets
How do Exterminators Get Rid of Ticks?
If you’re considering hiring an exterminator to help you get rid of ticks, you can expect the team to follow this three-step process:
All tick removal jobs start with an inspection.
During an inspection, the team will visit your property, identify the types and species of ticks present, pinpoint signs of tick activity, and identify the presence of other pests, like mice, which could be introducing ticks to your property.
Once the inspection phase is over, the team will begin a tick treatment regimen using the best tick killers for the yard.
Depending on the severity of the tick infestation, the exterminator may use methods like backpack or power sprayers, liquid residual products, dust, aerosols, and more.
3. Follow-up treatment
After the initial treatment, the team will visit your property to assess results and provide follow-up treatments, as needed.
How to Prevent Ticks in Your Yard
Want to keep ticks away from your property? Follow these tips:
1. Eliminate other pests
If you have ticks in your yard, get rid of the pests that may be introducing them, like mice, squirrels, raccoons, rats, and deer.
A pest management team can help you identify and control underlying pest problems and resolve your tick infestation in the process.
One of the best ways to do this is to utilize exclusion tactics to keep other pests out of your yard.
Here’s an anecdote from Zach Smith, aka “The Pest Dude,” about how we helped a customer get rid of ticks by installing deer exclusion fencing around their property:
“Last year, we had a customer who had a real tick concern because their kids and their dogs love to play in their rustic landscaping on the edge of town. I came to take a look at the property and immediately saw there were signs of deer (droppings) and wildlife pass-through. Knowing that wildlife carry a heavy quantity of ticks and tick eggs, it was imperative that we redirect these animals around the backyard.
We installed low-visibility deer fencing to preserve the wild aesthetic (a fence would not look good in this setting), and then we applied a tick spray treatment to all shrubs and tall grasses. By keeping the wildlife out of the yard and regularly treating the landscape for live ticks, we gave our customer tremendous peace of mind.” – Zachary Smith, Founder of PestDude.com
2. Clean up your yard
To prevent ticks, get rid of their hiding places. Follow these tips:
- Clean up yard debris. Remove leaf piles, wood piles, and old trash, furniture, or junk in your yard, which could provide shelter for ticks.
- Cut your grass. To remove cool, shady tick hiding places, keep your grass cut short, remove all unkempt shrubs, and pick up all grass cuttings immediately.
- Create a natural barrier. If you have playground equipment, decks, or patios in your yard, keep them at least 8 feet from the edge of the lawn, where ticks are most likely to hide.
3. Use hardscape
Use hardscape like gravel or wood chips to create a 3-foot barrier between wooded areas and your lawn.
This can create an inhospitable environment for ticks and make them less likely to invade your space.
4. Wash pet bedding and treat pets
If you’ve had a recent tick infestation, wash or dispose of infested pet bedding in your home.
We recommend washing and drying pet bedding on the “hot,” “extra hot,” or “sanitary” setting and getting tick-removal pet medications from your veterinarian.
This can help prevent your outdoor tick infestation from becoming an indoor tick infestation.
Are Ticks invading Your Yard? We Can Help!
Sick of sharing your space with ticks? You don’t have to live with these pests forever!
If your DIY options have failed or you want faster results, working with a local pest control company is your best option.
Pest Dude has a wide network of reputable pest control professionals in your area.