Ticks may be small, but they carry diseases that can cause big health problems. Practice natural tick control by welcoming these animals that eat ticks into your yard, parks, and community.
Ticks are nasty little buggers! In addition to alpha-gal syndrome, they are responsible for spreading Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tick-borne illnesses. Whether it’s lone star ticks, deer ticks, black-legged ticks, or other tick species commonly found in your area, you can practice effective tick control without harsh chemicals. By inviting animals that eat ticks into your yard, parks, and community, you’ll be able to help others from contracting alpha-gal or making an existing alpha-gal allergy worse by a subsequent tick bite.
The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. Because I have an MBA (and not an MD), nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice as I’m clearly lacking the letters required on my diploma to be a physician.
Amphibians and Invertebrates That Eat Ticks
With a few exceptions noted below (I’m looking at you fence lizards), amphibians and invertebrates will eat ticks but not in meaningful quantities to use these animals as a natural form of tick control. That said, one less tick in the world is a good thing!
Frogs and Toads
These amphibians enjoy feasting on a wide range of insects that annoy us, including flies and mosquitoes. Frogs and toads are natural predators for ticks and will eat all of the ticks they can find. And one less tick in the world is a good thing to this alpha gal! But having a few frogs hopping around your backyard won’t be enough to fully control ticks.
While lizards aren’t native to the Northeastern US, these animals help with tick control in two ways throughout the rest of the nation. As animals that eat ticks, lizards naturally control the population by eating the bugs. Lizards like the common Western fence lizard will eat ticks by the millions!
But another way lizards help control tick-borne diseases is by serving as host animals for the bloodsuckers. Why? Because lizards don’t transmit Lyme disease as well as other creatures. So when a tick latches onto and feasts on a lizard – whether it’s a prairie skink or a green anole – the tick is less likely to carry Lyme disease than other animal hosts. And that means a human is less likely to contract Lyme disease if bitten by a tick in lizard country.
Looking for a reason to love the eight-legged insect that creeps so many people out? It is another animal that eats ticks! Two of the best spiders for tick control are wolf spiders and brown recluse spiders. Wolf spiders are reddish-brown arachnids found from coast to coast and even on the lush green island of Kauai. Brown recluse spiders are more common in the middle section of the country where they live in sixteen states from Illinois and Ohio to Alabama and Mississippi.
If a tick is caught in a spider’s web, it will happily sup on the unlucky bug. But I wouldn’t recommend filling your backyard with spiders as a tick control measure, because a spider is more likely to catch and consume many other types of bugs in its web before making a dent in your tick population.
Birds That Eat Ticks
From chickens to guineafowl, several birds eat ticks. When you attract woodpeckers to your backyard or keep a few hens for eggs, these tick-eating animals help keep alpha-gal, Lyme disease, and other tick-borne illnesses at bay. And if you live on a farm, adding a few turkeys or guineafowl helps keep ticks off of the people and other animals that call it home.
Unlike the other birds on this list, guineafowl is not native to North America. This speckled bird hails from Africa. But today, domesticated guineafowl can be found around the world. Guineafowl pick up ticks in their beaks and swallow them whole. And because a single guineafowl can easily consume thousands of ticks a year, they have long been a favorite way for farmers to naturally reduce the tick population on their people and herd animals.
While chickens and ducks will happily eat any ticks they encounter, turkeys will seek them out. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a turkey to put away up to 200 ticks in one day and to consume tens of thousands of ticks in its lifetime. Attract wild turkeys to your yard by:
Like most of the birds on this list, ducks will happily eat flies, mosquitoes, and other insects. As they waddle through tall grass, ducks will discover and consume a large number of ticks, helping you manage ticks without chemicals.
Related Article: What to Feed Ducks and Geese (NEVER Bread)
If you raise chickens, either for eggs or meat, an added benefit of having these cluckers around is to help control ticks. If there aren’t many alternatives, roosters and hens will feast on ticks in a big way. But if other plants, seeds, and bugs are available, chickens won’t consume as many ticks as turkeys and guineafowl.
While their sharp beaks may be best known for noisily knocking against trees in search of a tasty treat, woodpeckers will also use their long sticky tongues to snack on ticks crawling on a tree trunk. There are more than 15 types of woodpeckers banging on trees and snarfing down ticks across the country, but the downy woodpecker and the hairy woodpecker can be found throughout the United States and Canada.
Like several of the birds on this list, quails are omnivores that enjoy eating a variety of plants and bugs. As they forage for food, quails will eat as many ticks as possible. And while bloodthirsty, disease-carrying ticks don’t do much to benefit humans, they are high in protein and other nutrients that are quite beneficial to a covey of quail. As a result, some farms, towns, and other communities raise quails as a chemical-free way to control ticks.
Mammals That Eat Ticks
While most mammals are important hosts for ticks – especially deer and mice – a few mammals eat ticks and help reduce their numbers naturally.
Looking a bit like a giant rat, these marsupials are one of the best animals that eats ticks. In the United States, opossums are one of the main predators of ticks. And as they run through the woods or explore your backyard, they suck up roughly 200 ticks a day. By the time the temperatures first tip below freezing as fall turns into winter, each of these tick vacuum cleaners has eaten nearly 5,000 ticks!
One way to attract opossums to your yard is with food, and they will happily dine on seeds dropped from hanging bird feeders and dig through uncovered compost heaps. I invite them to visit my yard by scattering my fruit and vegetable scraps – like carrot peelings, lettuce leaves, and strawberry greens – right at the tree line of my yard and the wooded area behind my house.
Across the country, you’re likely to see squirrels scampering about and burying acorns in public parks. As squirrels run up trees and sprint across lawns in big, bouncing leaps, they attract ticks looking for a host. But in addition to flowers, fruits, and nuts, squirrels will eat nearly all of the ticks that try to latch onto them.
These striped cuties are another animal that eats ticks. Like squirrels, chipmunks attract ticks where they live in trees and as they forage and play on the ground. And like squirrels, chipmunks will happily dine on ticks as a part of their typical diet.
Using Animals That Eat Ticks for Natural Pest Control
Do you use animals that eat ticks to naturally control ticks in your backyard and other surroundings? What animals work best for you? Any additional tips and tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.