A big, beautiful lawn can mean hours of fun for the whole family, playing, cooking out, and just relaxing. But, while you may not think of your lawn or garden as a dangerous place, it can be home to mosquitos, ticks, bees, spiders, and other insects that can pose a threat to you, your children, and your pets. Insects can carry life-threatening diseases like Lyme disease, Zika virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and countless others. Some creepy-crawlies can also sicken people and animals with venomous bites. Here’s what you need to do to stay safe:
Cut Your Grass Regularly
Some common parasites, like fleas and ticks, love long grass. These insects like to climb to the top of long grass blades, from which they can hitch a ride on passing people and animals. Ticks can spread potentially lethal diseases like Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and tularemia. Fleas, too, can spread diseases like typhus, cat scratch fever, and plague. Dogs and cats aren’t the only ones at risk; many flea- and tick-borne diseases also threaten humans, and the range for many of these illnesses is expanding.
Keeping your grass short discourages fleas and ticks from living in your lawn. Short grass can’t give fleas and ticks the platform they need to successfully launch themselves above your shoes and socks, so it can keep them finding a way to your tasty, tasty skin. If you have pets, treat them regularly with a flea and tick repellent to protect them and keep fleas and ticks out of your home.
Take a Stand Against Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can also pose a serious threat to the health and safety of your family, since they carry diseases like West Nile virus, Zika virus, dengue fever, and Chikungunya virus. But you can take steps to reduce or completely eliminate their presence in your lawn. One of the most important things you can do to keep mosquitoes out of your lawn is to eliminate their breeding grounds.
Mosquitoes proliferate in moist, marshy areas, and like to lay their eggs in standing water. Repair any drainage issues you may have on your property, and do away with any sources of standing water, including birdbaths, wading pools, and pet water dishes. Treat swimming pools with the appropriate chemicals to keep the water clean and keep mosquitoes from breeding in them. Don’t let water accumulate in holes, troughs, or ditches. Consider contracting with a quality mosquito defense service to protect your family from these pests – your life could depend on it.
Flush Out Spiders
Spiders often feed on other insects, meaning that their presence in your lawn can be beneficial, if unsettling. That said, some spiders have venomous bites that can cause disabling symptoms, or even serious illness. The two most dangerous species of North American spiders are the black widow and the brown recluse. The bite of the black widow contains a paralytic neurotoxin that can make breathing difficult. The bite of the brown recluse can cause necrosis, or death, of tissue around the bite area, usually requiring medical treatment.
Both spiders like to make their nests in dark, secluded, sheltered places where they’ll be undisturbed. You can keep venomous spiders, and many other species of spiders, from nesting in your yard by eliminating leaf piles, wood piles, or rock piles. Remove debris from around the foundation of your home to keep spiders out of your house.
While it might be worth warning the kids against playing on wood piles or rock piles or under structures like porches or decks, venomous spiders probably aren’t something that should keep you awake at night. These spiders aren’t aggressive; the black widow will usually bite a human only when he or she comes in direct contact with the spider’s web, and the brown recluse can’t bite at all unless it is pressed against the skin somehow. However, remember that even non-venomous insect bites can cause irritation and become infected; use insect repellent in the lawn, plant flowers and plants that repel insects, or ask your lawn care provider to spray your lawn for bugs.
Watch Out for Bees
Bees and wasps usually don’t pose a serious threat unless someone in your family is allergic, in which case you should have an EpiPen handy. But even if you’re not allergic, bee and wasp stings can be painful. Remove nests that wasps and bees build around your house or lawn, and keep bee sting treatments in your medicine cabinet. Remember that multiple bee stings can constitute a medical emergency, even for someone who is not allergic.
While you probably feel safe in your own lawn, it can be home to many hidden dangers in the form of ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, spiders, bees, wasps, and other biting and stinging insects that can spread disease or cause discomfort. By taking proper care of your lawn, you can protect yourself from most insect dangers, and enjoy many seasons of happy, healthy lawn use.