Since I have Lyme Disease and multiple tick-borne illnesses I want to protect myself and my family from coming into contact with ticks as much as I possibly can. Since we spend so much time in our backyard it is one of the most important places to try to eliminate the tick threat. I have a super easy (and cheap) DIY to help protect your yard against ticks.
How to Protect Your Yard With DIY Tick Tubes
What are tick tubes and why would I need them, you might ask. Tick tubes are simply cardboard tubes stuffed with Permethrin soaked cotton that you place around your yard to control the tick population. Permethrin is a natural insecticide made from the flower chrysanthemum and is very effective at killing ticks on contact. I also use permethrin to spray on my clothes for when I go camping or plan to be in any tick infested areas. One application lasts for 6 weeks or 6 washes (which ever comes first).
Unfortunately ticks won’t just go and find these tick tubes on their own. What you want is for mice to find them. Mice carry a lot of nymph (baby) ticks and will use the permethrin soaked cotton to line their nests thus killing the baby ticks before they have a chance to get in your yard and bite you.
If you don't want to make your own tick tubes you can buy them at places like Amazon. But it really is incredibly easy to make them, with minimal materials and costs so much less.
DIY Tick Tube Supplies:
- Permethrin insect repellent in a spray bottle (I used Sawyer brand)
- Empty toilet paper rolls (you can also use empty paper towel rolls or PVC pipe)
- Cotton balls (or dryer lint)
- Cardboard box to spray into
Gather all your supplies, you probably already have most of them in your home except Permethrin. Put your cotton balls inside of the cardboard box and take everything outside. With your mask and gloves on spray all the cotton balls until they are saturated. Allow cotton balls to dry and then flip them over and repeat the spraying process on the other side. Take note that Permethrin is safe for animals however while it is wet it is not safe for cats as it affects their central nervous system so make sure to keep wet Permethrin away from cats. Once dry the Permethrin is safe for cats.
After the cotton balls are completely dry you can stuff your toilet paper rolls.
I stuffed them so they were almost full and could easily come out. There are a few tick tube tutorials, like this one on Practical Primitive, that use dryer lint, which is another cotton material you can use. However if you use dryer sheets the mice might not like the smell of your lint and potentially won't take the dryer lint.
After stuffing your toilet paper tubes you should place the tick tubes in areas of your yard that are wooded, the perimeter of your yard, and anywhere that looks like a mouse would go like an overgrown area. One more note, since Permethrin is a broad spectrum insecticide do not place tick tubes in areas where it might affect honey bees or other pollinating insects.
Permethrin is not water soluble so it won't wash off in the rain and one application should last about 6 weeks so you should replace your tick tubes every spring and late summer. If you don't notice a decrease in the tick population in your yard, simply put out more tick tubes. If you want to see if mice are taking the "bait" check on your tick tubes to see if any cotton is missing and if it's all gone put out another tick tube.
I love these DIY tick tubes because they are super affordable, they are biodegradable and anything that can prevent tick-borne diseases is a win in my book! Hopefully this DIY tick tube tutorial helps you out with protecting your yard from nasty, disease causing ticks!
To see more pictures or more information on tick tubes and my Lyme Disease journey check out my blog post: https://www.thriftyartsygirl.com/2021/04/continuing-down-lyme-disease-rabbit-hole.html?m=1