Tips on Tick Prevention

Suggested by vet Lawrence Swift and reproduced with his permission.

Here are some measures to reduce the tick population, without toxic insecticides.

Ticks dessicate easily, especially the younger forms. They need a high humidity to survive and breed. Obviously warm wet weather doesn’t help us. Here’s a few suggestions -

Keep all grass short. Not just the lawns – I’m talking about the long grass at the edges, in hedges, and under or against fencing. A good strimmer is your friend here. By short I mean lawn height, 1/2 inch from the ground.

Watch all vegetation beside paths etc. Long leaves dangling over the walkways can provide ticks with somewhere to hang on, to wait for their next victim. No leaf should overhang a path. Then keep to the paths yourself.

Prune back hedges & trees that might shade areas of the garden from direct sunlight. Sunshine will help dry out the grass & other vegetation.

Ticks will come into your garden as parasites on hedgehogs, and other small animals. Obviously you want to keep friendly with the local hedghog population – they keep down the slugs & snails. As do the frogs & toads. It’s called biological control, and avoids using poisons. So if you find a hedgehog, try & examine him for ticks. He may have some. Handle him gently – incredibly, they become tame to handle in a few minutes. If he has ticks, give him a spray of Frontline* (see note below before applying frontline) from your vet’s. Maybe keep him in a cardboard box overnight with a saucer of cat food – the ticks should fall off. Don’t do this in mid-summer, it may be a female with babes to feed.

If your garden is walled securely so that small animals can’t get in, you shouldn’t have much problem with ticks, but you could try keeping a few of the larger quail or the very small bantams. These critters are fantastic at eating houseflies off the wall. And all other undesirable creepy-crawlies. [PS only if you don't have cats!]

NB: To treat hedgehogs infested with ticks please note the following: http://europeanhedgehog.webs.com/hedgehogfirstaid.htm

*Use Frontline™ Flea spray from the Vets. But be careful! Never spray it onto the Hedgehog! It is safe to be used on Hedgehogs, but it can cause severe breathing problems when breathed in or absorbed through the skin. This can kill a Hedgehog!

*The safest way to use it is to spray it into a medicine cup about ½ ml to 1 ml.

*Then you can use a cotton wool bud to wipe a tiny bit of the spray onto the Tick. This will ensure that none of the Frontline will get onto the Hedgehog.

Above all, keep safe – sleep tight and don’t let the tick bugs bite!!