According to the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center (TERC) (one of the nation’s leaders in tick protection and prevention), the most effective method for reducing the blacklegged tick population in your yard is to applying insecticide, using a high-power sprayer, to:
The property perimeter
Perennial flower beds that are shaded
Wooded trails or walking paths
The idea is to focus on the areas of the property where humans could encounter blacklegged ticks most frequently, while leaving open, sunny spaces of the lawn chemical-free. This approach is better for the environment because it limits the amount of insecticide on the property.
Perimeter treatments come in both liquid and granular forms, and work best when they contain low concentrations of either bifenthrin or permethrin as the active ingredient. According to TERC, microorganisms break both of these substances down in the top 4 cm of the soil surface, so neither chemical will leach into the soil.
Keep in mind, though, that permethrin is extremely toxic to aquatic life (in any form), and to cats and bees (when wet). So do not use it near any bodies of water on your property, and keep your cats inside until the treatment has dried. Also, be aware of any beehives around your home before using permethrin. We’re only out to get ticks, here!
According to TERC, the best approach to perimeter treatment is to hire a licensed Professional Pest Control Applicator who also has experience with controlling/exterminating ticks in the environment.
For tips about what to look for when hiring a company to treat your yard, as well as the best timeframes for treatments, check out TERC’s Helpful Hints.
For information about TERC’S ongoing experiments with new “minimal risk natural products” to see which ones will be effective for tick control, click here. You can also see them actually doing the research in the video below.