Ticks top my personal list of life’s major annoyances but in my life on a rocky Ozark ridge, ticks are ever present. These blood sucking parasites hover in wait outside the door for fresh meat to wander within reach. Since moving to the country twelve years ago, we’ve always had ticks but the past few dry years and mild winters seem to have increased their numbers. Ticks can carry serious diseases including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever so I want them away from where we relax and where the kids play.
Since I like to live green as much as possible, I hate pesticides almost as much as I do the ticks. Guineas and other fowl will cut down the numbers but if too many varmints live in the adjacent woods, the ticks can outlive the chickens. Using products that include DEET works for trips into the deep woods but since the ticks were thick in the front yard where we like to relax and the kids play; I wanted something to help with the daily trips inside and out.
In desperation I looked for some method that might cut down the tick population around my house and found something simple, something that doesn’t harm the environment, the pets, or my kids, that works!
It’s a dry ice tick trap and while it may not eradicate every tick from the surrounding forest, it will make a major difference in the door yard. The dry ice tick trap uses the tick’s senses to draw them in for a sudden end. Ticks live on the blood of vertebrates which can and does include humans, dogs, cats, deer, most fur bearing animals, and such. Because their life depends on being able to suck blood, ticks will wait on the ground or climb to a vantage point to wait for a potential host. Tall grass, weeds, fences, trees, and porch posts are just a few of the places where ticks will wait. In heavy tick infestations, it’s possible to see ticks lined up on a single tall blade of grass or on the stem of a weed.
Ticks sense that a warm blooded host is near in several ways. Warmth, odor, and exhaled carbon dioxide in the air draw the ticks to a host. A dry tick trap uses this natural instinct to gravitate toward carbon dioxide by using dry ice.
Making a dry ice tick trap is simple and inexpensive. The necessary supplies include a Styrofoam covered ice bucket or small cooler, a tool to punch holes in the Styrofoam, up to two pounds of dry ice, a piece of ply board or heavy cardboard, and masking tape;.
Begin by punching four ¾ inch holes in the Styrofoam container. This will allow the carbon dioxide vapors from the dry ice to draw ticks. Place the container on the ply board or heavy cardboard. Place strips of masking tape to cover the board with the sticky side of the tape facing up. Add dry ice to the container, cover, and place the trap in a tick prone area. Some dry ice traps use two pounds of ice on the first effort but I prefer to use one block of ice at a time.
After placing the trap in the center of tick area, wait. Within fifteen minutes, ticks will begin moving toward the carbon dioxide emitting dry ice and become trapped on the masking tape. One use of the dry ice tick trap will last for about three hours or until the dry ice melts. In that time, the masking tape will become covered with the bodies of ticks that now are unable to suck blood or attack to an unwary leg. Most of the ticks in a 75 square foot area will be captured during the three hour period.
Just one use of a dry tick trap reduced the number of ticks near my front door and porch by substantial numbers. Before using the trap, ticks covered the shoes, feet, and legs of anyone who strolled through the area where the trap was set within
moments. Afterward, the ticks in that area of the yard have been minimal to none; one or two ticks where before twenty or more might have covered my legs.
Subsequent traps put in areas where my children play also reduced the ticks by an incredible margin. Although it doesn’t cut down the ticks in the nearby woods, the use of dry ice tick traps made enjoying the yard much more enjoyable as well as safer.
A dry ice tick trap is something I tried that worked without pesticides, without much expense, and is earth friendly.