Landscape maintenance, turf, and pest control firms are often asked by clients if they have anyway to control ticks outside. The following is a good article on the subject from Rutgers University.
During the weeks ahead, the peak activity for the immature stage of the Deer tick (Black legged tick) will commence. This stage is the vector of 70% of all cases of Lyme disease. The nymph is very small, about the size of a poppy seed. The tick is picked-up by brushing against low (4”-6”) vegetation. Since ticks don’t fly or drop from trees, they crawl up and wait on vegetation for a person to walk by and then grasp onto clothing to crawl up. Tucking your pants into your socks (so they don’t crawl up your leg undetected), wearing high rubber boots (too slippery to crawl up?), and wearing a repellent (to kill them upon clothing contact) are thus all precautionary recommendations to prevent a tick bite. The nymph stage will feed for 3 to 5 days, swelling with blood to the size of a sesame seed before it drops off.
The nymph prefers to live in the woods, or in adjacent vegetation, not in properly mowed lawns. A lawn is simply too hot and dry for nymphs to survive. Research shows that 84% of nymphs are found in the woods, 13% along wood-edged vegetation, and only 3% in the lawn. Reliable control of Blacklegged tick nymphs currently involves one application of a granular insecticide (e.g., Sevin G) broadcast 8-12 feet into the woods. Shaded turf adjacent to the woods is also treated. One application during late May or the first week of June has given >95% control of nymphs. Liquid insecticides are also labeled, but thorough coverage, by drenching foliage until runoff, must be performed. Only one pesticide application is necessary, because nymphs rarely move more than 10 feet from where they molted from a larva. Once they are killed within an area, they won’t re-infest again until the adult moves in via animal activity during the fall season.
Reprinted from the May 29, 2008 edition of the Plant and Pest Advisory Newsletter, Landscape, Nursery and Turf Edition from Rutgers University.