How to tick safe your summer backyard from 'very small and active' Lyme-disease carrying critters
Don't assume dry and hot weather means disease-carrying ticks have scurried off for the summer.
Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, which can pass Lyme disease, are still around in the summer in Manitoba.
University of Manitoba entomology professor Kateryn Rochon said while Manitobans sometimes think of spring and fall as the peak times to watch for ticks, nymphs (the younger generation of ticks) are around in the summer before they become adults in the fall.
“If that tick is infected they can give you Lyme disease or any other pathogen, they are very small and are active and they will bite in the summer,” said Rochon.
Manitoba Health reports online four probable cases of Lyme disease have surfaced as of the end of June, and 129 confirmed cases in the last decade.
TICKS IN YOUR BACKYARD
Rochon said deer are the preferred host for adult blacklegged ticks which drop ticks in yards, and birds cause pose a risk as well.
“There is pretty much millions of blacklegged ticks that are pretty much coming into the country every year,” she said.
“We tend to blame some of the larger animals, like the deer, but the birds can also bring the ticks.”
Rochon said small animals, like mice can also carry ticks.
She said adult blacklegged ticks tend to move on larger animals, while larvae and nymphs tend to move on smaller creatures like mice and birds.
TICK-SAFE YOUR BACKYARD
Rochon said to help reduce ticks, make places you spend time clear of leaf litter and sun because ticks need shade and humidity, keep the grass as short as possible, and use something temporary like a parasol for shade if necessary.
Rochon also advised people create a buffer zone, like using rocks between areas kept moist for plants and where you spend time, and if people have an area where kids play, like a swing set, she suggested people consider putting down rubber chips or gravel that stays dry.
GARDNER WELCOMES WILDLIFE
Charleswood Gardener Suzanne Boudreau set up her backyard to entice wildlife, not deter it. She built a path so deer could roam in and out of her yard and has birdfeeders places around her garden.
Boudreau loves the beauty of nature and said she takes ticks seriously, but isn’t concerned enough about Lyme disease to make sure birds and deer stay away.
"We got songbirds, we got the deer and the baby deer and last year we had two female, two doe who had their babies in the backyard so that was amazing to see.
"We keep the grass short, we keep branches high on the trees, so we try to eliminate the attraction they would have here," Boudreau said.