Protect where you live and play

By Paula Jackson Jones | Jun 17, 2017

In a recent phone call with a woman, who had pulled a tick off her child and who subsequently is being treated for Lyme disease, I raised the question of prevention practices and asked her what she was using. She mentioned repellent on the skin and treating the clothing with permethrin but then she mentioned noticing an increase in ticks on her pets. The day that she pulled the tick off her child, they had been outside playing in the yard that had not been treated. When I asked her why, she replied that she wanted something safe but effective because she had pets and children playing outside.

That led me to interview a couple owners of state licensed pest management companies in Midcoast Maine that provides “yard barrier treatments” about their services, what options they offer and how safe and effective they were. Here are the summaries of those interviews:

How is business this time of year? We stay busy seven days a week and put in long days to meet the needs of our customers. Come home late to phone messages and emails. With the rise in tick infestation, we've seen our business double with calls and new customers.

What services do you offer? synthetic and organic sprays.

How safe are these treatments? The synthetics, although concentrated in the bottle, are diluted (18 ounces in 100 gallons of water). Allow time for product to dry and then is safe and effective. It does not reconstitute itself once dried and bonded to the soil.

People have raised concerns about the effects of synthetics on the environment and especially with bees. Your thoughts? That's why we offer an organic option that is safe and effective. There are do-it-yourself options such as tick tubes along the parameters of their yards but its less effective on large yards. We've even treated large yards parameters that have chickens roaming the interior area of the yard. People have choices other than spray but with the rise in tick infestation, some choices may not keep up with the level of ticks we are being exposed to.

How long do yard treatments last? Depends on the product used, organic or synthetic, anywhere from one to three months. Organic applications can be effected by the weather, rain can wash it down, lasting one to two months. Synthetic applications (Pyrethrin or Bifenthrin, a product used by crop dusters) bonds with the top 2 to 3 inches of soil and last two to four months (depending on product used).

Which services are you getting more calls for this season: We're seeing an increase in more customers wanting the organic spray because of their concern with pets, children and the overall environment.

Is one better than the other? They are both equal in effectiveness but the synthetic applications tends to last longer than organic.

Tell me about the cost — is there a difference between them? No, they are about the same. Average cost for an acre or two is between $150 and $250.

Any recommendations for the readers? I recommend at least two treatments a year (spring and fall). I check out the area and if there is a high level of tick infestation, maybe three to four treatments. Some places, I only treat once a year. I pay attention to where the ticks are!

Good advice to end this week's column. Pay attention to where the ticks are and treat accordingly. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

For more information about yard barrier treatments or licensed companies that we partner with in the Midcoast region, you can email paula@mldse.org or visit our website mldse.org.

Paula Jackson Jones is president of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education, a nonprofit 501c3 and Maine-partner of the Natl Lyme Disease Assoc and member of Maine CDC Vector-borne Workgroup. You can reach her at paula@mldse.org or visit their website mldse.org.

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