Tick dragging is the process of taking a piece of cloth. Flannel is often recommended, but denim should work as well as an old bath towel.
The idea is that you drag it over the grass and leaves and then count how many ticks end up on it.
It can be something very simple. I took half of an old bath towel and stapled that to a 1 x 11/2" board. I put an eye bolt in the middle since I had a broom handle with a hook at the end. It was pretty easy to drag. If you are doing your property, you don't need to use a whole square yard. Something smaller will also work.
Our property is 2 1/2 acres. It took about 30 minutes to cover a good sample of it at a slow walk.
I found a dog tick right near the pool filter. I had a deer tick on my leg a week before. Well, that area got scalped when I cut the lawn. (shorter grass makes a less hospitable environment for ticks) I didn't find any in the open, sunny, short grass parts of the property. I found one in the leaves. When I went through the woods I found about a half dozen clinging to it.
With the smaller drag, you can also pass it easily over bushes, shrubs and small trees.
- I have a little CO2 duster that uses the cartridges for an air gun. I've heard that ticks are attracted to CO2 so I'll try spraying the cloth before starting out next time.
- I have to read the labels on permethrin. I'm wondering if it is OK/legal to spray the cloth with permethrin. The guineas and chickens hardly ever go into the woods. I'm thinking about making up a cloth that I can tow behind the tractor and go throught the woods (about an acre) once a month or so. I just have to make sure that it is in compliance with the federal labelling. The thought is that you can get the ticks to cling to the cloth where they get a fatal dose of permethrin, but the residual that goes onto the ground should be minute.
- Our tick control is working to a degree. We were down to one guinea this year. We now have 8 adolescent guineas roaming (4 on any given day) and 4 chickens. We also use the tick tubes and have tried to keep the deer out as much as possible. There hardly seems to be any squirrels this year, but the fox does look fat. Anyway, the tick dragging, when done in a consistent manner, can provide a baseline tick cencus for you.
- It will be interesting to try this at a neighbor's house who does not have birds.
- Be careful. Ticks are heat seekers. If you are touching the cloth or wood, there is a good chance of getting ticks on you. Use plenty of repellant and keep checking yourself, especially your hands.
- Deer ticks are, of course, tiny, You have to look closely as they tend to start burrowing into the cloth very quickly
- Don't bring the cloth back into your home or shop since it may have ticks you missed.