Organic Tick Killers

May 24, 2017

To the Editor:

In response to “Tick Time Bomb” (5/10), may I offer three organic suggestions for combating ticks.

Diatomaceous earth, known as DE, which is composed of microscopic marine skeletons, is an inexpensive option. With the consistency of the softest talcum powder, it is death to any insect with an exoskeleton: ants, fleas, ticks, and where I now live, Texas, scorpions and cockroaches. It is completely harmless to people and pets.

I used to rub it all over the deer I raised; she loved being massaged with it. It’s completely safe to coat your pets with it. If you feed animals outside, you can spread it around their food to keep the ants away. Last bag I bought, which filled a small garbage can, cost less than $12. The only downside to DE is that once wet, it’s no longer effective, so it must be reapplied.

The next method is spraying with beneficial nematodes. These are microorganisms you purchase on a green sponge ($8) from a quality nursery. Never buy them online; they’ll be dead. The sponge must be kept refrigerated, must be fresh and must be put out within a week.

Just place the sponge, which covers around 1,000 square feet, in a large bucket of water for about five minutes, then fill a hose end sprayer (remove filter) and spray the lawn. I do not know how effective it would be if you only have sand. Nematodes will kill fleas, ticks and grubs.

Here in Texas, I’ll spray as soon as I see June bugs, which lay their grub eggs. For ticks, this method is effective while they are on the ground, but once they’ve moved up into the bushes, nematodes won’t work. Then, use your sprayer on foliage with a mixture of one gallon of water mixed with a couple of ounces of rosemary oil and the same amount of thyme oil. These methods take more effort but do not introduce poison into your yard.

As an aside, Green Light manufactures a DEET-free, chemical-free insect repellent lotion called CedarCide. It repels mosquitoes, flies, fleas, gnats and more.

I can’t wait for my annual trip to my wonderful LBI in July!

Lynne W. Dean

Garden Ridge, Texas


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