When it comes to ticks, it can seem like there is almost no help besides your friends here at Mosquito Shield of South Central PA. Deer, mice, squirrels, even man’s best friend can aid in the spreading of ticks. However, there are a few animals that are found in the Pennsylvania area that actually eat ticks. Some of these animals are best left out in the wild, others might be found in your backyard, but all are helping in the fight against ticks.
The O is Silent
While not the cutest wildlife we have in the region, opossums are North America’s only native marsupial. Opossums are nocturnal, which is why most of the times they are seen is on the road at night. They are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will eat whatever is easiest to find. This brings us to how they end up eating ticks. Opossums seek their food on the ground, often eating insects and mice. While searching for food, ticks will latch on to opossums, as they do with other animals that cross their path. Opossums, however, are very clean animals. They regularly groom themselves, and in this grooming often find and eat the ticks they find. So, while these animals might be ugly, they do aid in keeping those pesky ticks away which should make their presence not only tolerable but welcome.
Young wild turkeys are also known to eat deer ticks, but not to the extent that they are effective in controlling the tick population in your yard. Wild turkeys enjoy small, crawling insects and can potentially eat up to a few hundred ticks a day, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. A flock of wild turkeys that regularly visits an area can reduce the number of ticks, but there is no concrete evidence that they seek ticks out.
They’re Not Chicken
If you live in an area where they are allowed, domestic poultry such as chickens and ducks can take a major bite out of your tick population. Guinea fowl, though noisier than chickens and ducks and more apt to annoy the neighbors if kept in a typical suburban backyard, are also well known for their voracious appetite for ticks. Though they do produce eggs, guinea fowl are best known as a source of gourmet meat that closely resembles pheasant, and for their qualities as “the farmer’s watchdog” due to the piercing call they emit when danger is spotted.
On the Wild Side
If you enjoy having wildlife and animals in your yard but don’t want ticks to be part of the menagerie, opt for wildlife that happily eats ticks. Wild birds are often enthusiastic tick eaters. Wild birds eat a great number of insects, especially jays, robins, and bluebirds. You can attract insect-eating birds by planting insectary plants. Insectaries are plants such as dill, dutch white clover, and aster that attract large numbers of beneficial insects such as butterflies and bees. Insect-eating birds will take note of this tasty bug buffet and stick around to make a dent in populations of less desirable insect visitors as well.
Some wildlife should not be welcomed in your yard. Deer and mice are the most common wildlife that carries ticks, and taking steps to discourage these visitors is an easy way to keep ticks away as well. Chose plants that deer won’t eat, use fences to keep wildlife away, clean up trash so it does not attract mice, clean underneath bird feeders so there is no food available and use humane, responsible traps and other deterrents as needed to remove these tick transporters from your yard.
While any of these animals can be effective at reducing ticks in an area, none are proven to help prevent the prevalence of ticks in your yard. Our Flea & Tick program is based on the same tireless work and effective science behind our mosquito control protection plan. This intensive Flea & Tick program was developed specifically to eliminate them within your property. In a process similar to that described for Mosquito Shield, our flea and tick formula is applied to all turf, wood lines, and landscape beds around your property to effectively kill fleas & ticks within those areas.