Ixodida Death Cylinders – IE, Tick Prevention Tubes

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Introduction: Ixodida Death Cylinders – IE, Tick Prevention Tubes

Ticks. They’re everywhere. They’re tiny and relentless.

Kids. They go everywhere. They’re tiny and relentless.

They encounter each other often at our house but I only want one of them around.

Unfortunately, if you live in the Eastern US and think you don’t have ticks you are probably incorrect.

The ticks nowadays in Virginia aren’t like the ones we got as kids, not only are they more numerous, these things are insidiously tiny.

Two years ago we were pulling a tick or two off both my boys almost daily. The yard was mowed, they didn’t play in tall grasslands, and they didn’t go out into the woods by themselves so my wife and I were at a loss.

I was an inch away from going full nuclear and burning the entire yard then poisoning everything when my wife sent me a link to a company that used a novel approach. Soaking cotton balls with Permethrin (a pesticide) and setting them out for mice to find.

How does this help?

Well, the little bloodsucking tagalongs LOVE mice. If we provided a medium for the mice to collect bedding that killed the ticks… it was a no brainer, let the mice do the job for us.

Problem is we live in the country and the tick tubes were expensive as heck and need to be put out several times a year.

So we made our own. And you can too, using something we all have around the house.

Cardboard tubes.

Here’s the deal, you will have to use a pesticide for this to work. I don’t much care for chemicals but this method targets one specific area (the mice) and doesn’t do damage to surrounding ecology. It’s a far sight better than fogging your yard with poison. Plus, the tubes biodegrade into mush after one season so there’s no cleanup.

DISCLAIMER: There are poisons and there are poisons, some way worse for you than others. Permethrin is approved for treating your clothing and is used in lice and scabies medicines for direct skin contact. I suggest you wear gloves and a respirator when spraying it on the cotton balls but that is up to you. I’m a bit paranoid about chemicals so I typically use an overabundance of caution.

Step 1: Stuff You Have and Stuff to Buy

1.) Permethrin – Home Depot or Lowes probably carry it, you can buy 10% permethrin from ACE or Amazon and even 36%, but I think thats probably overkill unless you are making hundreds of these. I would say anything 2% or better would be fine. FWIW I haven’t tried the 0.5% clothes treating kind.

Also, permethrin is not the only pesticide that kills ticks. I would think any kind that lists ticks as a targeted species would work fine.

2.) Cotton balls – look under your sink. I use 100% cotton. Cool in summer, warm in winter… for the discerning rodent

3.) Cardboard tubes – toilet paper or papertowel tubes? perfect.

4.) Sunflower seeds - optional but why offer some incentive

Step 2: Collect the Tubes

I know you have hoarded TP by now. It seems all of America has. So you have plenty of cardboard tubes. (FYI, you should check out bidet toilet seats...)

Set the tubes aside until you have enough for your property – say, 10 per ¼ acre. I know it seems like a lot but you have no idea how many mice are around and where they are. You can optimize your chances of placement though, more on that later.

Once you have collected all the tubes you are all set to begin.

Step 3: Cotton Balls and Poison

Wear PPE. Soak the cotton balls in poison.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t do this inside.

You can fluff them out to get better coverage. Remember, these are mice looking for bedding – they aren’t that picky.

Let them dry overnight.

Step 4: Fill Them Tubes

Stuff the cardboard tubes with the cotton balls. I like to put some sunflower seeds in the middle to coax mice to come on in.

Step 5: Choose, But Choose Wisely...

Think like a mouse.

If you can’t, here are suggestions.

1.) They like to run along walls and fences

2.) They tend to stay on the ground unless there’s a compelling reason to climb

3.) They like shelters (under sheds, around wood piles, etc)

Keep the tubes under cover as much as possible since eventually rain will dissolve them, plus mice like to stay dry. Also, I would put them in areas that the kids aren’t likely to bother them, and some instruction is probably in order. My boys know by now if they see tubes not to add them to their collections

Step 6: Testing Testing... Is This Working

I have not done any independent lab research on the effectiveness of these tubes (my wife is the scientist not I) but presumably the companies that sell them have. They are supposed to reduce tick load by a considerable amount.

We have placed them twice a year since we started (typically spring then mid summer) and I can say that it seems to have helped a good deal as evident by the amount of ticks on my kids. (and I'm still on the first $12 bottle of Permethrin!)

You can do a simple test by waving a white cloth flag, NOT IN SURRENDER!! in areas where you think there might be ticks, the little buggers grab right ahold of the flag and you can do a before and after tick count experiment if you like. Anecdotal/semi observational evidence is fine for me though.

In my experience it is cheap, easy to do, and has to help

Plus I didn’t have to poison the entire yard or have the fire department make an uninvited visit.

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    39 Comments

    1
    robertsteel
    robertsteel

    1 year ago

    In fact ticks climb up grass and bushes along a track used by some animal like chooks ,possums,rats,pigs ,cattle ,dogs etc. As an animal passes they grab hold of its fur or whatever they can . Then they move to attach to the blood supply dropping off when full.
    Some chemical in the blood of the animal seems to work best but who knows what else it destroys . Some people spray and coat their animals with chemicals . I have cattle and I just leave them . We have tick birds here ,white egret types that get on and under the cattle and peck the ticks off as a delicacy . That's the best way but the numbers of tick birds are going down so maybe the chemicals are killing them too.

    0
    ajoshfan
    ajoshfan

    Reply 1 year ago

    I live in Alaska and as far as I know, chooks don't. What are they? Small rodents?

    0
    robertsteel
    robertsteel

    Reply 9 months ago

    Chooks are Chickens in Oz

    0
    Lymie
    Lymie

    Reply 1 year ago

    I think what is being outlined here counts on exactly that, the mice exposing the ticks to Permithrin by using the cotton balls in their nests not trying to place the tubes where the ticks themselves travel. Unless I’m misunderstanding the process here.

    1
    eciton
    eciton

    Reply 1 year ago

    Correct. Enlisting the mice so I don't need to nuke an entire environment

    Was quite interested until I realized you want me to invite mice and rats to my yard. Not smart, mice carry other diseases besides ticks, but the big problem I have with mice is they are the prime food source for snakes. We have Fer de lance, Bushmasters,Coral snakes and other pit vipers here so not a good idea. Will fog the yard instead.

    0
    eciton
    eciton

    Reply 1 year ago

    I mean, you're not likely to invite any mice or rats that aren't already there. It's not like you create a trail of these to your house or play a tune like the Piper. We don't have those death worms here so as always...

    Different conditions require different solutions.

    0
    rozzieozzie
    rozzieozzie

    1 year ago

    Would this also help with fleas? We have chipmunks in my neighborhood that I swear are spreading fleas around. Doggo has never had such a flea problem since the chipmunks arrived. And does permetherin affect birds like hawks and owls that eat rodents? We do have both in the area as well. Great idea though!

    1
    SMDH529
    SMDH529

    Reply 1 year ago

    Diatomaceous earth, (make sure it's food safe, buy from natural food store for kitchen use), can be used in your kitchen. It can be used almost anywhere, inside and outside your home, you can even dust your pets with it, (outside of course, always wear PPE, and cover your pet's nose too) to combat fleas, ticks, meal moths, mold, black spot, actually most hard bodied and soft bodied insects. It will kill pollinators, and it's not good for humans or animals to breathe into their lungs, so exercise caution. Research it. Do your due diligence. It replaces tons of harmful chemicals. You can find it almost anywhere. Organic gardeners use it. It's used in natural food cooperatives, the poultry industry, pool supplies and others.

    0
    OculumForamen
    OculumForamen

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yeah, Squirrels and chipmunks both carry nasty diseases! I suggest you engage in ridding yourself of those cute little vermin as soon as possible. The culprits are the Ticks and Fleas, that are basically dirty hypodermic needles and the Diseases carried by either of these rodents and their accompanying insect parasites, are, but not limited to Ringworm, Tularemia, Typhus and Bubonic Plague. All of these can be carried by both rodents because ticks and fleas aren't picky about the blood they get. I would consult with either a exterminator or the local health authority in your area that can give you more information. Best practice is to get your pup a tick and flea collar or medicine that you apply to your pet directly, but if you have cats as well, then you should consult a veterinarian as to which medicines are best for your animals. but you don't want your dog to bring home Typhus and then you and your partner wind up in the hospital for weeks! Best to take care of the problem as soon as this Wuhan virus stuff dies down.

    2
    turtlewax
    turtlewax

    1 year ago

    Just an added note about tick behavior: I noticed by using a clear plastic umbrella, that ticks love to drop on top of you from the trees! I stood below a tree at a park with a clear umbrella and the ticks dropped like rain and within minutes there must have been at least 50 or more of them crawling around on the umbrella. Don't know if anyone can find a useful way to combat ticks knowing this but at least I found out how easy it is to get infested by ticks while under a tree!

    0
    MarioB137
    MarioB137

    1 year ago

    Good Idea. My only concern would be the effect it has on bumble bees that rely on conquering a mouse nest to build their own in there. Those and the occasional ground dwelling spider wandering into a nest would be the only unwanted collaterals I can think of.

    0
    eciton
    eciton

    Reply 1 year ago

    Those bees sound like jerks that need to be taught a lesson.

    ;)

    All kidding aside, I'm sure there are some unintended casualties. But it's better than the alternative which was everything dies. I married into crunchy hippiness, so it only rubbed off a little...I'm not so crunchy that I think everything deserves to live.

    FWIW to the others, we have cats, they kill some mice. They're not dead so anecdotally at least it's not that dangerous.

    0
    MarioB137
    MarioB137

    Reply 1 year ago

    As long as you don't put the things out too early in spring when the queens are looking to nest it should be fine. If you see them visiting flowers and not scanning the ground for holes, it means they already nested. :-)

    1
    OculumForamen
    OculumForamen

    1 year ago

    I would suggest to anyone who has tick or flea problems to use Diatomaceous Earth, it is basically nothing but dead desiccated fossil remains of Microscopic organisms. They ate so sharp the when an insect walks through it, the "earth" gets all over them. and as they move and flex, the Diatoms cut their way into the soft connecting portions of an insect's exoskeleton, and when this happens the insect begins to dehydrate at a massive rate, much faster than it can compensate for, and they die that way, or other more invasive microbes or bacteria or virus can find it's way into the insect's body through these cuts, and it can die of various diseases or from a parasite as well. All of this is made possible by using Diatomaceous earth. The best thing about Diatoms is that they aren't toxic, and are not harmful to anything larger than an insect. However, if you have a microscope or access to a microscope, put a tiny amount of diatomaceous earth on a slide without a cover (be careful to not breath in Diatomaceous earth or it will harm you), set it to the second highest setting you have and you will be treated to the most spectacular sight you will ever see! Search out "Diatoms" in Google and have a look, you'll be amazed and with you could have one of each kind! (Note: Diatoms are so plentiful and the designs of the shells that these creatures left behind or pretty much unlimited, meaning we have not idea how many different kinds there were because we haven't found the end of the shapes yet)

    0
    eciton
    eciton

    Reply 1 year ago

    Diatomaceous earth has it's uses certainly. I have used it in the garden some for squash bugs. Unfortunately it kills all bugs, and it does it slowly. I've read it takes a week or two to kill an insect that comes into contact with it. By then the ticks are on my kids. I have made some tick tubes from pvc that have some Diatomaceous earth inside the tube along with the permethrin soaked cotton balls. Figure double danger for ticks has got to be better than just one alone.

    I'm pretty sure that only the Diatomaceous earth used for pools that's mixed with silica is bad for humans.


    Permethrin is naturally derived from chrysanthamums. It is in many lice products used for kids/adults. That being said, you can have seasonal allergy reactions to it like I did. I had to treat my niece for lice when she visited and my eyes were tearing and nose was running like a faucet. So just be warned that you can also experience allergy symptoms while making these tubes.
    Yes, it is toxic to cats, so if those mice that you are treating outside happen to make it into your house and your cat gets a hold of it, you can have an issue.
    You can try to make a less potent saturation. The goal is for the mice to make a bed of cottonballs/dryer lint and be exposed to the permethrin to kill the ticks/fleas long term.
    Every chemical/poison has a plus/negative. The fact that permethrin is naturally derived is a plus but on the negative side it can be toxic to other animals such as cats. Once dried, the toxicity may be low, but the possibility is still there. Toxicity is low for owls/birds.

    0
    Errol1951
    Errol1951

    1 year ago

    a really good idea you could also use some surface sprays when spraying the cotton balls and it would last about 2 - 3 months I think that this is a really great way to let nature help do your work

    0
    JohnG184
    JohnG184

    1 year ago

    I have lots of wild turkeys running around in my fields and no ticks. Get off into the trees and there are ticks.

    1
    tantris
    tantris

    1 year ago

    ThisOldHouse had a short info about the commercially available tubes in their magazine last year (https://www.thisoldhouse.com/pest-control/21015808...

    The idea is not to get the permethrin into the mice, but to have them build treated nests. It's the bedding that kills the ticks and prevents the mice and their litter from becoming walking tick multipliers.
    AFAIK, this is one of the most clever and neatly targeted methods of using permethrin.
    Yes, permethrin is poisonous to insects, arachnids, fish, and cats. But this is a very small dose and very targeted: It is hidden from other animals in a tube, and then gets hidden in a nest. If you are worried about cats that might wander into your yard, maybe use a safer setup: Longer plastic tubes, where you can hide the treated material inside, and which can be anchored to the ground.
    I will definitively offer some treated bedding material to our mice and chipmunks.