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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