Disposing of leaf litter in tick country

Local News

The changing foliage is the best part of fall in Vermont, but as the leaves begin to fall, you may be wondering what you should do with the debris.

When it comes to managing leaf litter, some people leave it as natural mulch on perennial beds and to provide habitat for beneficial insects. Others remove the dead leaves to prevent pests such as ticks. But Nadie Vanzandt., master gardener for UVM Extension Community Horticulture Program, says that has a downside too.

“You are also removing beneficial insects, you know? Not just ticks but some of the bugs that are really good for the soil,” said Vanzandt, who came up with her own way of getting rid of the piles after she was bitten by a tick in the spring.

“One of the ways that is easy to do and good for the environment is to actually get a mulching lawn mower and go over the leaves as long as it’s not really thick,” she said. “Go over the leaves with a lawn mower and they break up in little pieces and that makes them a lot easier to decompose and as they decompose they feed the soil.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks flourish by living in a shady, moist, wooded and or grassy areas so leaves are the perfect home. After collecting leaves be sure to do a full body check for ticks on your skin and in your hair.

The CDC also recommends you shower and wash your clothes as soon as possible to prevent the spread.

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