While fleas and ticks are not damaging to the turf they can be quite troublesome to humans and pets. Not only do they cause irritating painful bites but they can also transmit serious diseases. Ticks and fleas are very hardy and can survive many months waiting for a suitable host. Depending on the species ticks may seek several hosts before completing their life cycle starting with small animals or birds then progressively seek larger mammals such as people.
To limit the potential for both fleas and ticks in your lawn the following tips will help. They are usually brought into the home lawn aboard pets or other animals including wild animals therefore, the first step is to control them on the animals that frequent the area. For your pets applying appropriate collars, repellants and insecticides will help. Do not allow them to roam wooded areas and carry ticks back into the lawn. For wild animals and strays limit their access by fencing, lights, etc. Keep vegetation cut low to discourage deer and other animals from entering the lawn. And lastly if ticks or fleas do infest your lawn use appropriate insecticidal sprays to control them. It is best to treat the entire lawn but the most obvious areas where they will be concentrated will be where pets rest, along paths or trails that are traveled by wildlife, around building perimeters and on any tall weedy vegetation.
You can also reduce the chance of being bitten by fleas and ticks by protecting yourself when working or playing where they may be. Tuck pants legs into tops of boots or socks. Keep shirttails in and use repellents such as permethrin or DEET.
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org