Be aware that many over-the-counter products are labeled for lawn use and may not be as effective against ticks underneath deep leaf litter, which is best reached by high-pressure spray. These products may be useful and convenient for application to 500-1,000 square feet of tick habitat around homes. (We found, however, that with hose-end application and city water pressure of 80-90 psi, a 32-ounce product container emptied in one minute and 45 seconds, far too short a time to apply a soaking cover to the “up to 5000 square feet” stated on the label.)
Before using pesticides of any kind, please review the Maine Bureau of Pesticide Control’s Tick Control Product Fact Sheet.
Applying Approved Acaricides
If deer ticks are well established in your area, you'll likely need to take a multiple steps to control them, including spraying. A number of acaricides — insecticides that kill ticks — are available for use by property owners.*
- The single most effective way to reduce deer ticks in your yard is by insecticide applications that are applied mainly to the perimeter of your yard, to shady perennial beds, and along paths in the woods.
- Acaricides available to property owners include ready-to-spray liquids, liquid concentrates, or granules to be applied by sprayer, hose-end nozzle, or hand-held spreader.
- Acaricides can be synthetic or botanical products.
- Coverage will vary widely from the area stated on the label, as will the price per unit area.
- Most are recommended primarily for use on lawns, which are not habitats favored by deer ticks.
- To be effective, they must come in contact with the ticks. Therefore they must penetrate leaf litter.
- Initially, two applications may be needed.
- Before using pesticides of any kind, please review the Maine Bureau of Pesticide Control’s Tick Control Product Fact Sheet.
*Other acaricides may require application by a professional with a pesticide applicator’s license.
Most of the synthetic acaricides currently used are chemical derivatives of the natural insect toxin found in the chrysanthemum flower, and are called second generation pyrethroids. Products include bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, and other –thrin compounds.
Current synthetic acaricides are far less harmful to the environment — and to humans — than earlier insecticides, many of which have been taken off the market. However, they are very toxic to aquatic organisms and should not be used near ponds, streams and other wetlands.
The field of non-synthetic botanical acaricides is growing rapidly. Products now available to property owners may contain rosemary oil, geraniol, peppermint oil, and other essential oils. Many of these botanicals are classified as “food grade,” and do not require EPA registration. Nevertheless, their labels should be followed carefully.