Most PMPs (94 percent) applied appropriately labeled insecticides to control ticks, found the PCT 2020 State of the Tick Control Market survey. For 79 percent of survey respondents, this was the primary measure of control.

In follow-up interviews, some PMPs said they use synthetic pyrethroids labeled for ticks with or without an added insect growth regulator to help control the tick lifecycle. Others use botanical oil-based products, which may require more frequent applications due to weather but appeal to clients who want green alternatives applied to their yards.

According to industry consultant Stoy Hedges, ticks acquire hosts by questing, a process in which they crawl up blades of grass, weeds, and other vegetation and hold out their legs waiting for a host to pass by so they can grab hold. Most ticks are found on vegetation within 12 inches of the ground, so applications of water-based residuals should be directed low into ground-covering vegetation and to the lower branches of shrubs in landscaped areas, he said.

Hot spots for ticks include areas with leaf litter, bushes, tall grass and shade, especially in the ecotone where the lawn meets the wood line. “Ticks are not hanging out in the middle of a well maintained and mowed sunny lawn,” said Todd Leyse, president of Adam’s Pest Control in Medina, Minn.

The PCT survey found more than half (52 percent) of PMPs ask customers to eliminate brush, leaf litter and yard waste as part of the tick management program; 27 percent undertake rodent control measures; 15 percent perform exclusion; and 11 percent use tick boxes.

Tick boxes give mice and chipmunks a dose of insecticide when they enter the box to eat bait. A similar device, the tick tube, contains insecticide-treated nesting material, which the rodents bring into their nests. In follow-up interviews, some PMPs said they offer these devices as an add-on to their tick management service.

“The days of spraying and praying are long gone,” said Mark Constantino, Arkadia — Eco Pest Control, who also is exploring habitat management as an add-on to his tick control service. This would include installing three- to five-foot-wide bands of stone or mulch around children play areas and where properties border the woods.

Mohammed El Damir, technical and training director at Adam’s Pest Control, experienced first-hand how the right barrier can reduce tick exposure. “In my home, I found replacement of mulch with gravel kept ticks away from my doorstep,” he said.