Every year in the United States, an estimated 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease. This serious bacterial infection is transmitted through the bite of blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks), which can carry the bacteria that causes the disease. Although blacklegged ticks have been found in 43 of the 50 states, people living in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and parts of the upper Midwest are especially vulnerable, as 95 percent of confirmed cases in 2015 came from states in those parts of the country.
Now for some good news: Lyme Disease is preventable. In addition to protecting yourself from tick bites and following the correct protocol in the event you do get one, the CDC recommends creating “tick-safe zones” for your yard for extra protection.
How to create a “tick-free zone” for your yard
Ticks that carry Lyme’s disease love wooded and grassy areas. Many people pick up ticks when they’re gardening, hiking, camping, or even just walking through tall vegetation outdoors. Ticks may also hop a ride on a family pet that’s been outdoors and comes back inside. If you live in an area where deer ticks roam (especially if your property borders any wooded area), it’s worth taking the time to follow these simple steps for creating a tick-free zone around your home.
Avoid ticks with these 6 steps
1. Be sure to regularly mow or clear tall grasses, brush, and leaves from the area around your home.
2. Adult blacklegged ticks feed on deer and are often found in the vegetation deer frequent. Remove plants that attract deer to your yard and/or put up adequate fencing (8 feet or higher) to keep deer off your property.
3. If a wooded area borders any part of your property, use gravel or wood chips to create a 3-foot-wide barrier between your yard and the wooded area.
4. Keep patio tables and chairs and any play equipment away from shrubs and other vegetation. Choose sunny locations for them, if possible, as ticks have trouble surviving in full sun.
5. Get rid of any large debris piles around your property. Ticks (and rodents) like to hide in dark, moist places. If you have a woodpile on your property, move it away from your home and onto the wood chip barrier or another dry area away from your home.
6. Ticks can come into your home (and onto your body) from a family pet that’s spent time outdoors. If you have an indoor/outdoor animal, consult with your family vet to find an effective and safe tick control product.
You’ll never regret taking time to provide you and your loved ones with a safer home environment. For more information on protecting yourself from deer ticks and Lyme Disease, visit the CDC’s Lyme Disease web page.