Selecting a Tick Control Program
The overall approach to suppressing tick populations should be an integrated one that employs education on preventive measures, selected habitat alterations, and the use of acaricides. Recognition and avoidance of likely tick-infested areas, wearing appropriate clothing, use of repellents, frequent self-examination, and prompt removal of ticks are the best ways to reduce human-tick encounters and risk of disease transmission. Trimming vegetation, mowing lawns and weedy areas, removal of leaf litter, eliminating or reducing rodent harborages and nesting sites, planting of deer-resistant plants, and installation of deer fencing are examples of successful habitat modification techniques. Personal protection recommendations should be followed when engaged in habitat modification activities. Where appropriate, the use of habitat- and/or host-targeted chemical control can be a safe and effective means of reducing tick populations.
Habitat-Targeted Chemical Control
Review of the scientific literature suggests that at this time, host reduction, biological control, and some habitat management techniques are either unavailable or impractical for widespread use. Habitat-targeted chemical control has been shown to be the most reliable, efficient, and cost-effective method of reducing tick populations in limited geographical areas. Because of potential environmental impacts, applications should be confined to those areas with significant human activity. In general, large expanses of tick habitat need not be treated. Lawns, athletic fields, and similar areas are poor tick habitats that do not require treatment, except where they abut woodland edge.
Selection of an appropriate acaricide formulation and application method requires knowledge of the biology, behavior, and habitat preference of the target tick species. Acaricides applied to appropriate habitats at the proper time will provide excellent control of ticks and eliminate the need for repeated applications, all resulting in a dramatic reduction of acaricide use.
Some of the host-targeted approaches show great promise in an integrated tick control program. They are generally more expensive, may be of limited value in controlling certain tick species or stages, require knowledge of host biology and behavior to insure proper deployment of the product, and have an inherent delay in their effectiveness. For this reason, clients should be apprised of this lag time and advised to consider interim measures, such as the use of barrier acaricide applications.
Since no control program will ever eradicate the tick population, clients should be urged to continue the use of preventive measures. Design of any integrated tick control program should be site-specific and in complete conformance with labeling requirements.