Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mousy Mousy Mousy...

Is what I say to the cats to wind them up!

I was out in the garage today covering the hole in the side of my truck from last week's accident. It goes into the body shop in two weeks and I want to keep as much salty crap out of the door as possible.

The cats were keeping me company in the garage, but their attention was focused on the wood pile. They never moved and never made a sound... When I was done, I checked out what they were so interested in. I moved a couple of logs and found a mouse nest! I noticed that the mice used what appeared to be cotton for their nest.

Two years ago, I made a bunch of home made **Tick Tubes. They're basically a piece of PVC pipe with a few, dry, Permethrin treated, cotton balls in them. I placed a dozen or so of the home made "tick tubes" around the yard. They're under wood piles, by the rock piles, under the grill, at the edges of the wood line, all over the yard... The theory is, that the mice will scrounge the balls as nesting material. As they come in contact with the treated balls, the Permethrin kills the small ticks that infest the mice. Because the nymphs are killed they won't live and move on to their next host.... deer.

Do the tubes work? Well, in the summer of the first year we were here, I could walk out to the mail box and back, and I'd find a tick on my pants probably 50% of the time. This last year, I never found a tick on me. I'll credit that to a combination of things. The "tick tubes", and having a set of clothes just for yard work. The clothes had been sprayed with Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent (Permethrin) and allowed to dry before wearing. The treatment lasts 6 weeks.

I refill the "tick tubes" a few times a year, and I'm surprised to see how many of them are empty! I have a milk crate in the garage where I keep the extra pieces of PVC pipe and the extra treated cotton balls. Today, I found out that the mesh bag of balls was empty... Some 4 legged creatures raided it!

My extra tubes and what should be a few dozen cotton balls....

The bag of untreated cotton balls... High on a shelf where the mice can't get them, or at least haven't discovered them... yet.

The 2.5% Permethrin for treating the cotton balls, and the 0.5% Permethrin, Sawyer brand spray for clothing and gear.

Because, where there's...

You'll likely find these lovely little guys, deer ticks! Ready to infect people with Lyme Disease...

Not my photo, thanks Google image search.

According to the CDC map, I live in the heart of Lyme Disease country...

** Home made Tick Tubes are easy and cheap to make. A 10' chunk of 1.5" I.D. PVC pipe cut into 6" or 4" pieces with a hack saw makes 20 or 30 tubes. A bag of cotton balls, not polyester, and a small bottle of 2.5% Permethrin. I placed a hand full of balls in a zip top bag and poured in a 50/50 mix of Permethrin and water, squish it around to distribute it and soak all the balls. I put them in a mesh bag and hung them out to dry. Take 4 or 5 or the dried balls place them in the PVC and deploy them around the yard in out of the way places.
This spring, when I refill the tubes, I'm going to tape off one end with some duct tape to help keep the balls in the tubes and protect them from wind and rain. A quick coat of bright paint might make the easier to find later too.

Safety tip: wear nitrile gloves when dealing with the wet items and a mask and gloves when spraying clothing.