Ticks are one of the kinds of pests that can carry with them some truly dangerous bacteria and diseases. For that reason alone, it’s important to keep them away from our homes, families, and businesses.
However, since tick infestations are commonly and outdoor nuisance as opposed to indoor, the idea of treating the large space outdoors can seem like a daunting task to take on yourself. But did you know that you don’t necessarily need to call upon a professional in order to successfully treat your outdoor areas and ward off this harmful intruder?
Our step-by-step guide for getting rid of ticks from your yard will show you exactly how to do the job yourself and save money in the process. But first, keep reading below to see which products to purchase to ensure the job gets done right the first time.
Types of Tick Sprays
In today’s battle against this insidious pest, whether you are a professional or the basic homeowner, tick sprays are the leading method for tick remediation. While there are numerous manufactured sprays geared specifically toward tick control, they all generally fall into three categories: concentrated insecticides, premixed insecticide, and natural tick killers.
When most folks learn of these variations, the natural, next question is that of efficacy. The truth here, though, is that there really is no difference in insecticide product efficacy based on whether it needs to be mixed or has already been mixed. As long as a concentrate is mixed as indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions, it will be just as effective at killing and repelling ticks as its matching, premixed counterpart. However, natural tick killers are often not as effective as using an insecticide.
Concentrated Insecticides (Best Type)
With concentrates, the product comes in a super-concentrated liquid form and is simply mixed with water in a carry-along sprayer in order to become sprayable at the proper strength. This is the most economical choice for large areas and is exactly what professional pest control companies use. The only difference? You can purchase multiple years worth of concentrated insecticide for less than the cost of a single pest control service.
There’s quite a few different kinds of concentrated insecticides to choose from, but we ultimately recommend two: Permethrin or Talstar.
#1 Pick: Permethrin SFR
Permethrin is one of the most popular and effective tick sprays and what we always recommend for treating ticks. This product is essentially a synthetic representation of the oils of the chrysanthemum plant.
Highly toxic and repelling to ticks and a number of other pests, this product has a wide safety exposure margin for plants, humans, and most other animals, so, once dry after application, it’s not a safety risk to us, those cherished lawn plants, or our pets.
Permethrin can even be used in food preparation areas – this is one of the deciding factors that we rank this #1 because it’s so effective at killing ticks yet is really safe once dried. However, like all pesticides, it’s recommended to keep pets and children out of the area until the initial spray is dry.
This is particularly important for cats as they can be symptomatic while dogs and humans typically are not.
#2 Pick: Talstar
Talstar is another leading choice by homeowners and professionals alike for spray-treating outdoor areas for not only ticks but other unwanted pests (we particularly like this stuff for spiders). This product also comes premixed or in concentrate form and is completely safe to plants, humans, and animals. Like Permethrin, spray and allow to dry before allowing pets or people to enter the area. Once dry, it’s only going to pose a problem for the pests.
Talstar P Concentrate by FMC Corporation is a highly effective concentrate version of Talstar. It comes in an easy-to-use, graduated measuring bottle, so guess work and sloppy measuring with outside containers isn’t needed. Simply gather the desired amount of concentrate in the measuring reservoir, then pour into a sprayer, and mix. Total product: 96oz.
Which to Choose? Talstar vs Permethrin
Both options will work great for eliminating ticks from yards. In the chart below you can see the results from a study done by the Australian Army Malaria Institute where they tested bifenthrin (also known as Talstar) and permethrin as barrier treatments for military tents against mosquitoes. While this doesn’t entirely translate to ticks in your yard, it will still give you a good idea of the insecticide efficacy on the initial spray vs the residual efficacy 4 weeks later.
As you can see, Permethrin was more effective on the initial spray at keeping mosquitos at bay, while Talstar ended up being more effective 4 weeks later. This holds true to common industry opinions that Permethrin has a stronger “knock down” – which means it will kill the pests quicker upon initial application.
Permethrin is also typically a bit cheaper, which holds some weight in our rankings and ultimately puts it as our top choice.
If you have a smaller area to cover, premixed solutions come already mixed to the correct proportions and often come with their own spraying vessel and may even attach to a garden hose for the application spray. Let’s take a quick look at these two differences:
Garden hose tick spray
This is a much better option for outdoor use since it can be broadcast sprayed across your entire yard (or as long as your hose will reach!). If you have a smaller sized yard (under 1 acre) this may be a great choice for you.
Black Flag Flea & Tick Killer Yard Treatment Spray is a great garden hose concentrate because it comes with an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), specifically Nylar. This works be targeting nymph ticks and affects their life cycle, preventing growth into adult ticks. It’s quite the one-two punch for totally eliminating ticks.
These typically come in a jug with an attached battery-powered “spray wand” or simply a squirt bottle variety. These are only good for spot-treating small areas and are also not nearly as cost-effective (think – you’re paying for a new sprayer each time!). However these are definitely the easiest to use. We like this option for quick-and-easy spot treatments or a broadcast application for small yards.
Ben’s Tick Fence is a perfect example that uses the ready-to-spray wand. This formulation of permethrin is specifically created for dealing with ticks and will outperform any others on the market.
Natural Tick Sprays
For the more green-conscious consumer, there are several, nature-based tick sprays on the market to choose from as well. These typically use a combination of nature-based, pest-repelling essential oils such as peppermint oil, cedarwood oil, or eugenol, an oil derived from cloves. It is debatable as to whether the overall efficacy of these nature-based spray treatments is equal to that of synthetic options such as Talstar or Permethrin. Our product testing seems to show that the natural products do work for repelling but are not as effective at killing.
Our favorite natural product is the Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Spray by Wondercide. Wondercide’s Spray is a very effective, nature-based, premixed formula. Simply attach the product bottle to a standard garden hose, and let the treatment begin. Each bottle of this tick spray can cover up to 4,000 sq. ft., and being made almost entirely from cedarwood oil, it is very safe for pets, plants, and animals of all types.
Skin and Clothing Treatment
Even though this guide is specifically for getting rid of ticks in your yard, we want to quickly talk about the series of products available for preventing and killing ticks from your body.
Everyone has heard of the “Off! brand” bug spray before, which uses DEET as an active ingredient. DEET is a great insect repellent that can be sprayed directly on your skin and it does work pretty well against ticks, but it does NOT kill them.
In addition, the effectiveness can wear off quickly. More recently, it’s been recommended to spray-treat select articles of your clothing with a specific formula of permethrin. For example, any time I’m outdoors in a tick-ridden area, I wear a pair of pants and long socks that were treated with Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin.
The treatment lasts up to 6 washes and is proven to kill ticks as they walk across your clothing.
There are many great tick repellents you can use while hiking as well that should always be used when in the woods.
Ticks are never a welcome guest, and they certainly don’t have to be. There are plenty of great treatment options out there that nearly anyone can administer. Chief among them for outdoor care are today’s quality tick sprays, such as those mentioned here.