How to deal with bloodsucking bastard ticks?

My friend has a few acres of land and a cabin in northern lower Michigan. I was up there with him for the weekend, and the ticks were bad. He caught one crawling up his leg within an hour of getting up there, picked several off himself over the weekend and I picked one off the back of his neck for him. He said when he got home he found another one well embedded in his elbow.

I found one crawling on my hand, and my friend pointed out a tick crawling on my beard (shudder). This was while wearing tick gaiters (permethrin-infused sleeves worn between my ankles and knees to stop ticks) and sitting on the front porch of his cabin, a few feet off the ground. How were the ticks getting up to my hands and face area?? Fortunately I never found any attached to me.

For those of you like to camp, or live in areas with lots of ticks and like to be outside, how do you deal with it? Do you have an effective tick control strategy, or just self-check and pick ticks after being outdoors? We tried placing tick tubes last year-- they are cardboard tubes with a permethrin-infused cotton-like filling that mice are supposed to take to make nests, and it supposedly kills the ticks on the mice, breaking the tick reproductive cycle. They seemed like they may have worked last year. He had a few tubes left and put them around in late April this year, but apparently they weren’t nearly enough. We are planning to go up in July and plant a ton of tick tubes around, because he’s planning a big get-together in August with friends, wives and kids, and we don’t want them all to be a tick banquet.

Also, are ticks just generally getting more prevalent? He’s had the land for 20+ years, and it seems like only in the last few summers have we even seen any ticks around there.

I’d tell him to get some chickens except they can’t take care of themselves when he’s not there. And don’t believe any chicken that says they’ll be fine on their own.

I don’t know. I went to a weekend thing that was also plagued by ticks, and i dealt with it by checking for ticks regularly. In fact, i felt all the ticks that got onto me, as they crawled around looking for a nice place to settle in. But it did make me anxious.

So I’m curious about this.

I was also going to mention that chickens apparently like to eat ticks, and do a decent job of tick control. But yes, chickens are work.

Ticket are really bad in MI this year - worse than any prev year I experienced. And there friends who frequent MI say the same.

Only thing to do is spray w/ DEET, tuck pants into socks, and inspect regularly. Really sucks.

I can’t imagine those “tick tubes” being effective.

Were the gypsy moth caterpillars out as well? Really thick down around Muskegon last weekend.

Yep, went through a can of Deep Woods Off over the weekend, and as mentioned I wore the tick gaiters most of the time. I guess it kind of worked because I had fewer ticks on me than my friend. But having ticks on my hand and face while sitting on the porch raised above the ground, wearing tick gaiters, was kind of a WTF situation. I always used to think that if you stayed out of tall weeds you were much less likely to get ticks.

I think they do work, but only if you follow the directions carefully and follow through with putting them out at the prescribed times of year, throughout the season. It’s not a ‘quick fix’ solution, it takes time and attention. Plus the tubes are expensive, and my friend kind of cheaped out last summer and only used half the recommended tubes at any one time.

Don’t remember seeing any.

Fyi, there’s a new common English name for those caterpillars, “spongy caterpillars”.

The new name has the virtue of not including an ethnic slur, and is somewhat descriptive of the egg mass of this species.

Y’all got possums there? Because possums eat ticks like fat kids in a candy store. Figure out how to welcome possums and soon they’ll munch those ticks down to manageable levels. Aside from that and chikins, if you got deer you gonna have lots of ticks. *shrug*

Yeah, our backyard gets lots of deer, I’ve seen possums, and never seen a tick in our yard. So maybe the possums are taking care of business in our yard.

Possums are pretty awesome. A little scary the first few times you see them but they grow on you. There’s an absolutely enormous very light colored one that hangs around my neighbors’ yard that I keep thinking is a Siamese cat aside from the weird way possums move around.

I’ve heard the opossum thing might not be true.

They studied the stomach contents of several opossums, looking for any signs of ticks or tick parts. Additionally, they scoured the scientific literature for additional corroborating evidence: had any other scientists found ticks or tick parts in opossum stomachs or scats. Their conclusion: ticks are not a substantial part of the opossum’s diet.

Around here (WA/ID border around Spokane), ticks have been terrible this year. I think the long, cold, wet spring has helped them. We have a shorthaired pointer so it is pretty easy to find them on him (we’ve found a lot), plus, he takes tick medicine to kill them. I tend to find them on my neck as they climb and luckily haven’t had any attach yet this year knocks on wood . I also wear gaiters (non-treated) they still find their way. I hate them…bastards is correct!

A few things to add:

I recommend 100% DEET. It’s hard to find in the stores, so I get it from Amazon.

Ticks seem to like tall grass. So try to stay out of tall grass, and keep the grass cut near your home.

Around my house, ticks and mosquitos have never been much of a problem. But I’ll tell you what is a problem: deer flies. I hate those damn things. They attack you, and go right for the neck. (This time of year, I wear a hat with a blue cup attached to it, and then apply a coating of Tangle-Trap Sticky Coating to the cup. It’s very effective at trapping those bastards.)

Any chance you have a photo of this hat contraption? I’m picturing a variation of the Homer beer holder hat. :slight_smile:

Additional benefits, you ask?

Backyard chickens take a search-and-destroy approach to pretty much anything that moves or even quivers, including adult ticks, flea eggs, and mosquito larvae.

Chickens eat ticks at an alarming rate, with the average chicken consuming around 80 ticks in under an hour!

Plus, presumably…fresh eggs?

If you want the nuclear option:

They’ll eat about 1000 ticks per day.

Dang! I need to buy some guinea hens and release them in our normal walking/hiking spots.

Nobody has mentioned this so I will. The pyrethrin sprays that you apply to your clothes work. You spray your clothes and it lasts a month or so. I have seen first hand that it can make the difference between walking in the woods and having 40 ticks on your pants, or having zero.

I grew up playing outside in the woods in an area without ticks. I spent my entire youth bushwacking through brambles to get to a stream and never had 1 tick on me. Times changed, their range moved north, and now walking out to check the garden is a risk.

So now I have a set of treated outdoor clothes, light colored blue jeans and a white long sleeve shirt. When I come in from working outside I always take a serious shower + mirror check immediately.

Honestly, it sucks. But those are the times we live in. And truthfully, I’d rather catch covid than Lyme disease. At least people are studying covid.

You can get the sprays at any place that sells outdoor equipment, hunting or fishing gear. If you went on a spring turkey hunt in NJ without the spray, you wouldn’t have one tick on you, you’d have 50.

So this is how I deal with bloodsucking bastard ticks.

Interestingly, I just saw this story today:

Yes thanks, I will do this next time for sure. I did mention I wore a pair of permethrin-infused tick gaiters and I was still seeing ticks on me (though not as many as my friend), even when sitting on a porch raised a few feet off the ground. What shook me was not just how many we saw this past weekend, but how relentless they were. Those bloodsucking bastards climbed up the porch and somehow got past my tick gaiters (climbing up the chair I was sitting in?). I mean, I guess I may have picked them up while I was on the ground and were crawling around on me for awhile before I noticed them on the porch.

BTW, I thought it was called permethrin, so I wondered if I was misspelling it or you were. It turns out pyrethrin is a natural pesticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower, and permethrin is a synthetic version of the same stuff. Learn something new every day.

So yeah, next time I’m getting a big ole spray bottle of permethrin / pyrethrin and spraying all my clothing. We will also do the tick tubes in July. Are there any sprays that are effective for the campsite area perimeter also? If I’m bushwacking in the woods that’s one thing. I expect to maybe pick up ticks and do a thorough tick check after, but around the camp site I’d like to turn into a tick-free zone. We do also weed-whack on the site so there’s no tall grass in people areas; it’s as short as a lawn. But still ain’t stopping the basterds.

Do be careful if you own cat(s). Permethrin can kill them.