NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 24, 2013

Tim's Tips: Apply insecticide now to keep ticks away

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — I would guess that almost all my readers know someone who has Lyme disease, or unfortunately, you may have suffered from the disease yourself. There is always a lot of discussion on how to prevent the disease from striking. In many cases, people tend to think that only ticks in fields or wooded areas bite. The truth may very well be that an infected tick bites you in your own yard.

Deer ticks carry Lyme disease. These ticks feed on deer, as well as small rodents such as mice, squirrels and chipmunks. Research has shown that 75 percent of infected ticks come from feeding on small rodents. The most commonly infected rodent is usually the white-footed mouse. If you know anything about mice, you know that they are abundant in New England and their population is hard to control.

I suppose that if you eliminated all the mice, then we would have a lot less Lyme disease to contend with. However, you probably will never eliminate all of the mice, so why not use the mice to kill ticks? This can be accomplished with a product called Damminix.

Damminix consists of paper tubes that look like the paper roll that comes with toilet tissue. The rolls are filled with cotton balls, and the cotton balls are treated with an insecticide called permethrin.

The tubes are placed around the yard in areas where mice live or where they may frequent. This would be near stonewalls, brush piles and shrubs, or under decks. When the mice find the tubes, they will take the cotton balls back to their home to create a nice nesting area. The permethrin on the cotton balls coats their fur. From that point on, when the mouse is out and about, ticks will climb onto the mouse and be killed by the insecticide. The insecticide doesn’t kill the mouse; rather it turns the mouse into a mini exterminator in your yard.

The Damminix tubes need to placed in your yard twice a year to be the most effective. One of those times is in late April. In the spring, the nymph stage of the tick is actively feeding on mice and other rodents. In the late summer, the larval stage of the tick is feeding on the mice. It is important to do the twice a year application if you want to reduce the deer tick population in your yard. We have been selling this product in our store for many years. The customers who have used it twice a year have found a significant decrease in the tick population in their yard.

Controlling deer ticks is an ongoing process because the deer population is increasing. Deer can bring adult ticks that set off the process of laying eggs that become the larvae and nymphs that feed on the mice and ultimately all stages then feed on humans and their pets.

I have tried to simplify the information about using Damminix and on how ticks can infect you and your pets. If you need more information, you can stop into the store or go to the Damminix web site.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.Harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.