Sustainable Organic Gardening

Ticked Off!

It feels like it’s raining ticks at my place! I don’t know if it is a bad season for ticks generally or just in our garden. Every time we go into the garden my partner and I end up with not one but many ticks on us. Even our dog, Ebbie has had several removed even though she is a walking chemical factory with tick collars, tick repellent and tick wash. These little blood-suckers can cause real havoc to gardeners and their pets.

Ticks love moist, humid conditions, and so are found generally in moister areas such as wet Sclerophyll forest and temperate rainforest. Living in a subtropical region then it is no surprise we have them in abundance. I really did think that they were dropping out of our trees as we usually end up with them on our neck and chest area, however the research says that there is no evidence to suggest that they drop out of trees (‘they’ should come to my place) but will hang out in vegetation usually no higher than 50 cm and then go questing for their host waving forelegs to and fro slowly something like a Mexican wave. They don’t just exist on their own but host on animals, particularly bandicoots, but also possums and kangaroos.

I have the tell-tale signs of bandicoots in my garden – holes dug around my newly germinated seeds and my precious roses and my dog bravely barking at them from the safety of the veranda at night. Deterring bandicoots isn’t easy. NSW Department of Environment and Heritage suggest that you:

  • Try removing their food source: Bandicoots eat insects, earthworms, insect larvae and spiders, and also feed on plant tubers, roots and truffle-like fungi to supplement their diet. They will move away once the food source is depleted. This seems a little radical to me if you have any form of organic gardening happening at your place.
  • Floodlight the area: Bandicoots dislike light and will avoid well-lit areas. Not sure if this is actually practical either but I have had a couple of people say that solar lights around the vege patch seems to work.
  • Add chicken manure or Dynamic Lifter to the lawn: Bandicoots don’t like strong ammonia smells. Something we could all try perhaps?
  • Build bandicoot proof fencing: Use fine galvanised wire mesh, or any other material with gaps no larger than 20 mm. The foot of the mesh should be buried to a depth of at least 150 mm, and the fence should rise at least 500 mm above the ground. Certainly possible around vege patches.

Sometimes rather than trying to control nature you just have to learn to live with it the best you can and that can mean protecting yourself and your animals the best way you know. A really good resource that covers many aspects of protecting yourself against ticks has been written by the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators and is in their 2nd May 2014 Edition. You can find it at the following web address: Protecting yourself from ticks and tick borne diseases.

Also helpful: Ticks

Good luck – As I sit here scratching a tick bite on my shoulder from last weekend’s work in the garden!

Really Ticked Off!

This is a bit of a post script to my previous blog entry ‘Ticked Off’. I mentioned at the end of the blog how I was scratching away at a tick bite. Well, the tick bite turned into tick typhus!

Nasty, Nasty, Nasty. Fever, pooky looking spots all over my body, swollen lymph glands everywhere I have one, sore throat, shocking headaches, visual disturbances and just plain feeling sick and exhausted! So I’m prepared now to go out to the garden with a flame thrower if necessary, none of this ‘let’s learn to live with nature’ I say KILL THEM! Seriously, it’s a horrible infection and is on the rise on the Sunshine Coast so tick bites are to be considered with caution and take preventative measures when out in the garden.

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Posted in Organic Gardening

2 Responses to “Ticked Off!”

  • Peggy says:

    Toowoomba is also having a bad tick year, according to the vet. We have a variety of climates and habitats across the area covered by the city and all seem to be pretty ‘ticky’.

    I’ve only been bit once. Wearing long sleeves, pants and enough DEET to kill a, well tick, it got me on the head. I had been walking for hours, unmolested, but when I stopped and took off my hat, I felt it crawling on my scalp and grabbed it. I was under trees at the Bunyas. I’m not convinced they don’t live in trees!

    Thank you for the links.

  • Louise says:

    I am a bush regenerator and have also found that the bandicoots and ticks have increased a lot recently. a good thing overall. I have been using vicks vaporrub on any exposed skin and on my boot tops and have had no tick, mozzy or leech bites since I started using it…except for one day when I missed a small hole in my trousers and I had 7 mozzy bites on that patch of skin. I hear pricky heat powder is also good…similar ingredients and not so sticky as vicks.

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