How to Spray Your Yard for Ticks

Ticks are small parasitic arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles. They can transmit serious diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis to humans and pets. Spraying your yard is an effective way to kill ticks and reduce the risk of tick bites and tick-borne illnesses. Here is a detailed guide on how to spray your yard for ticks.

What You Need

  • Insecticide containing permethrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin or deltamethrin as the active ingredient. These chemicals are toxic to ticks.
  • Handheld or backpack sprayer
  • Gloves, long sleeves and pants
  • Mask (optional)

When to Spray

The best time to spray is in late spring or early summer before tick populations peak. Spraying when tick nymphs are active in spring can help reduce numbers throughout the summer. Spray again in mid to late summer to control adult ticks. Avoid spraying right before or during rain.

How to Prepare the Yard

  • Mow the lawn and clear away any brush or leaf litter where ticks may hide.
  • Remove toys, pet dishes, grills and furniture from the area being treated.
  • Cover any garden plants or fish ponds to prevent contamination.

Mixing the Insecticide

  • Carefully read and follow label directions. Do not exceed recommended concentrations.
  • Fill spray tank with appropriate amount of water.
  • Add proper amount of insecticide and mix thoroughly. Shake tank occasionally while spraying.

How to Spray

  • Target areas near woods, ornamental plants, stone walls, woodpiles where ticks congregate.
  • Spray lower foliage of trees and shrubs where ticks wait for hosts.
  • Apply as a coarse spray to lightly cover foliage down to ground level.
  • Spray under decks and porches. Treat a 10-foot perimeter around yard.
  • Wear protective gear while spraying. Avoid breathing in spray mist.

After Spraying

  • Keep people and pets off treated areas until dry.
  • Allow 24-48 hours before mowing the lawn.
  • Wait several weeks before eating any homegrown fruits/vegetables.
  • Clean gear to prevent residual contamination.

When to Reapply

Depending on the product, reapply every 3-4 weeks. Irrigating the yard can shorten effectiveness. Reapply after heavy rain. Continue spraying through fall until cold weather sets in.

Alternatives to Spraying

  • Treat gear, clothing and pets with permethrin instead of the yard.
  • Use tick tubes containing permethrin-treated cotton balls.
  • Apply fungal sprays containing Beauveria bassiana that kill ticks naturally.
  • Keep grass mowed low and remove leaf litter to remove tick habitat.

Safety Tips

  • Carefully follow all label precautions and directions.
  • Avoid spraying right before rain storms.
  • Wear protective clothing and gear while spraying.
  • Keep people and pets off treated areas until completely dry.
  • Do not spray near water sources or crops.

Spraying your yard with an appropriate insecticide is an effective approach for controlling ticks. Carefully follow all directions and safety precautions when using these toxic chemicals. Combine spraying with other prevention methods to protect your family from tick-borne diseases.

When to Spray for Ticks

The best time to spray your yard for ticks is in the spring and summer when tick nymphs and adults are most active. Here are some tips on when to spray:

  • Late spring to early summer – Spraying in May, June or early July targets newly emerged tick nymphs that are looking for their first blood meal. This can reduce tick numbers all summer.
  • Mid to late summer – Spray again in July, August or September to control adult ticks that are most prevalent at this time. Target areas with vegetation ticks congregate in.
  • Fall – Continue spraying into October or November until cold weather arrives and ticks become less active. This targets late season adult ticks.
  • Avoid spraying right before or during rain – Rain can wash away insecticide before it has time to dry and adhere to foliage and grass.
  • Spray every 3-4 weeks – Depending on the product, reapply every few weeks throughout tick season for continued protection. Irrigation may reduce effectiveness.
  • After heavy rain – Reapply product if a heavy rainstorm occurs shortly after spraying. This will replenish insecticide washed away by rain.
  • When seeing lots of ticks – Spray any time you notice an abundance of ticks in your yard to reduce populations.

Use these seasonal guidelines to determine the best times to spray your yard. Careful timing of applications can provide optimal protection from tick bites.

Where to Spray for Ticks

It’s important to spray tick insecticide directly on areas where ticks congregate in your yard. Here are some key places to target when spraying for ticks:

  • Along woodlines, stone walls, fence lines or any border between woods and lawn. Ticks wait here for hosts.
  • At the base of trees, shrubs and ornamental plantings where there is mulch or leaf litter.
  • Areas with heavy ground cover or brush like perennial beds or landscape islands.
  • The edge of wooded areas and trails. Spray 10-15 feet into the woods.
  • Around woodpiles, compost bins and yard debris that provide tick habitat.
  • Under porches, decks, patios, stairways and play structures.
  • Along driveway entrances or other access points to wooded areas.
  • Around pet areas and playgrounds where people or animals may pick up ticks.
  • Along commonly used walking paths or trails.

When spraying, thoroughly treat vegetation down to ground level but avoid runoff to water sources. Targeting these tick hotspots helps break the tick life cycle.

How to Apply Tick Insecticide

Using proper technique when applying tick insecticide ensures thorough coverage and maximum effectiveness:

  • Use a compressed air or backpack sprayer that produces a coarse spray. Avoid misters.
  • Adjust nozzle to lightly cover the top and underside of leaves and stems. Avoid heavy runoff.
  • Keep the nozzle close to foliage and aim spray directly at vegetation.
  • Thoroughly spray the base of ornamental trees and shrubs.
  • Treat ground cover plants, mulch beds and cluttered areas around the yard.
  • Spray until leaves glisten but avoid excessive dripping off the leaves.
  • Wear protective gear like goggles, gloves, long sleeves and pants. Avoid breathing spray mist.
  • Follow the product label for recommended spray concentration and coverage of the yard.

Using the proper type of sprayer and technique allows the insecticide to adhere where ticks are located. Evenly coating vegetation improves contact with ticks for better control.

How to Choose a Tick Insecticide

There are several effective active ingredients to look for when choosing a tick insecticide:

  • Permethrin – Recommended as the top choice for tick control. Provides long-lasting residual activity.
  • Bifenthrin – Often combined with permethrin for added effectiveness and resistance prevention.
  • Cyfluthrin – Provides quick knockdown and kill of ticks. More frequent reapplication needed.
  • Deltamethrin – Long-lasting tick control. Can be used on lawns and landscapes.
  • Pyrethrins – Derived from chrysanthemums. Low toxicity but faster breakdown.

Avoid products containing just pyrethrins. Look for permethrin, bifenthrin or deltamethrin as the primary active ingredient. Compare concentrations and coverage rates when selecting.

Mixing Instructions for Tick Insecticide

Follow these steps when mixing a liquid concentrate tick insecticide in a sprayer:

  • Wear protective clothing like gloves, long sleeves and eye protection.
  • Read the label and follow all safety precautions. Never exceed recommended rates.
  • Fill spray tank with appropriate amount of water as directed on label.
  • Measure out exact amount of insecticide concentrate needed for coverage area.
  • Add insecticide to tank and agitate or shake sprayer to fully mix solution.
  • Occasionally agitate tank while spraying to keep insecticide dispersed.
  • Mix only amount needed for each application. Do not store mixed pesticides.

Proper measuring and mixing is key to achieving the right concentration of insecticide to control ticks effectively and safely. Carefully follow all label instructions to avoid issues.

Precautions When Using Tick Insecticides

Tick insecticides are toxic chemicals that require safe handling. Here are some important precautions when spraying your yard:

  • Read and follow all label directions and safety warnings.
  • Avoid breathing in spray mist. Wear a respirator mask if recommended.
  • Wear protective clothing that covers skin and eye protection.
  • Keep children and pets out of treated areas until completely dry.
  • Do not allow people or pets onto treated lawns until the spray has thoroughly dried. This usually takes 24-48 hours.
  • Prevent insecticide from drifting or running off to nearby water sources.
  • Do not spray directly on vegetable gardens or any plants used for food.
  • Wait several weeks after spraying before consuming any homegrown fruits or vegetables.
  • Clean spray equipment thoroughly after each use and prevent backflow into water supply.

Using tick insecticides responsibly by following precautions will provide effective tick control while protecting people, pets and the environment.

Natural Tick Control Options

For those wishing to avoid chemical insecticides, here are some alternative approaches to reduce ticks naturally:

  • Apply tick tubes containing permethrin-treated cotton balls that mice take for nesting material. Kills ticks on mice.
  • Use insect growth regulators like nootkatone or methoprene that keep ticks from reaching maturity. Low toxicity.
  • Apply entomopathogenic fungi sprays containing Beauveria bassiana that kill ticks after contact. Natural control.
  • Set out nest boxes for birds or bat houses – Natural predators that eat ticks.
  • Remove brush, leaf litter and debris to get rid of tick habitat. Keep lawn mowed.
  • Discourage deer with fencing, repellents or landscape modifications. Deer bring in ticks.
  • Treat dogs with vet-recommended tick prevention products. Treat gear with permethrin.

Combining multiple natural approaches often provides the best tick suppression without insecticides. Consulting a pest control professional can help design an effective plan.


Ticks pose significant health risks but can be effectively controlled with a targeted insecticide spraying program in your yard during spring and summer months. Focus on preferred tick habitats and properly apply EPA-registered chemicals containing permethrin, bifenthrin or deltamethrin. Follow all label directions and exercise appropriate precautions when mixing and spraying. Natural options combined with property modifications can also help reduce ticks. Paying close attention to where, when and how insecticides are applied will provide the best protection against ticks in your yard.