▷ How to Make Your Own Tick Tubes (2024 Update)

How to Make Your Own Tick Tubes

Ticks tubes - reduce tick population in your yard

What Are Tick Tubes?

Tick tubes are a great first line of defense against nature’s Lyme disease carrying little nasties, the tick. If you live in an area where there are lots of ticks it may make sense to use tick tubes. 

The use of tick tubes can reduce the tick population by up to 90%, making it one of the most effective tick control methods available.

If You Prefer All-Natural Tick Control...

...either in addition to or instead of synthetic chemicals, then you should see our article on using cedar oil for pest control.

How Do Tick Tubes Work?

In a symbiotic relationship, tick tubes use another little pest (the mouse) to kill the ticks for you. Ticks reproduce in mice nests and then use the mice to transport themselves across your yard.

The tick tubes contain cotton balls laced with a poison called permethrin. Permethrin is harmless to mice but effectively kills the ticks.

Permethrin Kills These Insects:

Elm Leaf Beetles
Fire Ants
Gypsy Moths
Sod Webworms

Boxelder Bugs
Chinch Bugs

Here is how it works: the mice find the cotton balls in the tubes and carry them back to use as a nice, fluffy addition to their nests. That cozy cotton nest soon reveals its other side and kills all the young ticks while leaving the mice unaffected.

To use them, you place the tubes a few feet past your yard line (into the woods, tall grass, etc.) and put one down every 10 feet around the area you want to protect against ticks. Deploy them twice a year when the mice are mating and forming nests, which in the Northeastern US is April and July.

Where to Buy Tick Tubes

The easiest way to get tick tubes is to buy them online. For several years I bought Damminix tick tubes on Amazon.com but they are no longer in stock (thanks Covid).

You can still purchase them in various quantities to cover any size yard and they are ready to use out of the box. The tubes are even camouflaged so they aren’t visibly obvious.

A similar, cheaper and in-stock product is Thermacell tick tubes. There's not much to tick tubes so the differences are minimal but I've noticed that in the high demand season there can be a 1-2 month wait (!) on Amazon, so order early. 

The drawback is that for what they are, they’re very expensive. A one-year treatment for a 1/2-acre yard is nearly $200. Given that, the best option is to just make your own. It is much cheaper, and not difficult at all.

How to Make Your Own Tick Tubes

Making your own tick tubes is easy. Cardboard tubes are basically free, just save them from toilet paper and paper towels (cut paper towel rolls into 2 or 3 segments).

Buy some cotton balls. The big, fluffy ones are best because there’s more surface area for poisoning and you can use fewer of them to stuff a roll tightly so that they stay in place.

Here are the components of tick tubes:

Make Your Own Tick Tubes at Home

I usually place 24-30 tick tubes to cover roughly half an acre of usable yard space.

Toilet Paper Rolls for Tick Tubes

Before moving on to the permethrin section, I recommend protecting yourself when handling any poison so get some gloves and a mask, which hopefully you have on hand and at the ready.

Next, dilute the permethrin. The instructions on my bottle of permethrin SFR for reducing lawn tick populations call for 0.4 to 0.8 ounces of permethrin to 4 to 25 gallons of water. HOWEVER, that's for applications where you are spraying permethrin directly on the lawn.

The concentration of permethrin in tick tubes is 7.4%. So if you're using the bottle we recommend which is 10% permethrin, you can dilute it slightly or just use it as is.

Where to Buy Permethrin (the active ingredient)

The permethrin is the only ingredient that isn’t a normal household item. It's very easy to obtain though, just order some on Amazon

It’s a 32 oz. bottle which is enough to last you a very long time if all you do is make tick tubes with it. 

Add the permethrin to the water in the proper proportions in a spray bottle, then shake it up. Avoid shaking it in front of your face.

Bottle of Permethrin

Digging through the recyclables will get you a plastic container to use for treating the cotton. Just throw the cotton balls in the container and spray it with the permethrin dilution using a spray bottle. Move the cotton around and make sure it’s well-treated.

Cotton Balls for Tick Tubes

Here's a little video that brings it all together:

Let the cotton air out for a while then stuff the cotton balls into the tubes so they stay there. Not super tight, just tight enough that they don’t fall out easily.

Then spread them around the perimeter of your yard, a few feet past your yard line and spaced 10 feet apart from one another.

The idea is to let mice get to them, so make sure they are on the ground and you can even give them a little cover.

Pro Tip: You can use dryer lint instead of cotton balls inside the tick tubes; it works just as well (though it may not disintegrate as quickly). It takes some planning to collect that much dryer lint, but how many chances do you get to recycle dryer lint?

Just in case you’re worried about what it might look like to have toilet paper rolls all over your yard, the photo below is of one of these tubes with a few leaves sprinkled over them.

View from the road:

Tick Tube in the Woods

View from the woods. You can still barely see it:

Hidden Tick Tube

And that’s it! Save up your paper rolls over winter and by spring you’ll have all the ingredients you need to keep your family free from the bite of those disease-carrying ticks. 

Tick tubes are effective but are only one of several tick killers for lawns. Use it as part of an overall tick defense strategy in areas where ticks are particularly concentrated and you will notice marked results.

tick tube infographic

A Word About Permethrin

While deadly to ticks, a benefit of Permethrin is that it has low mammalian toxicity. That is, it's not very toxic to humans and other mammals. In fact, a form of it is used to treat scabies infections in humans.

That said, the same Cornell study linked above also stated "...contact with eyes, skin, or clothing should be avoided and handlers of permethrin should wash thoroughly after handling. Breathing of the spray mist or vapors of permethrin by workers should be avoided." It is somewhat poisonous so wear a mask and rubber gloves when handling it and make sure not to inhale the fumes.

We're very concerned with environmental toxins here at the Organic Daily Post, so we want you to know what you're dealing with.

Below are the first aid instructions for Permethrin, they do a pretty good job of letting you know what to be concerned about:

First Aid Warnings for Permethrin

The tubes contain the poison and target it specifically to ticks, which is important. Permethrin can be used more broadly but be aware, permethrin is very dangerous to cats, fish, and insects in general including beneficial ones like bees and butterflies. So simply spraying it on your lawn would be ecologically hostile...keep it in the tubes please.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions from our readers:

  • Q: Are tick tubes effective?

    A: Yes. They can reduce the tick population in a treated area up to 90% according to Damminix. They use a poison, permethrin, to kill ticks so it's not a natural solution but it does work when deployed as recommended. They need to be deployed twice per year, coinciding with the mating behavior of the mice that are the carriers of the poison (it doesn't poison the mice). It is toxic to fish so keep it away from bodies of water. It's also toxic to cats, which eat mice of course, so it's not without any drawbacks. Use them only if they make sense for you.

  • Q: Where should I place the tick tubes? 

    A: Place the tick tubes around the perimeter of the area you intend to treat. They should be hidden; both for aesthetic reasons and so the mice can easily find them, as mice don't like to be in the open either. Put them just a couple feet from the yard area you're treating if possible. You want to place them just beyond the edge of the treated yard. 

  • Q: When should I use tick tubes?

    A: Tick tubes are usually deployed in April and July, to coincide with the mating patterns of mice. Mice aren't harmed by the poison permethrin but they are carriers of ticks and the ticks reproduce in their nests. The mice transfer the permethrin to the ticks and kill them in the nests before they get to your yard. Mice mate in April and July so that’s when they’ll be in their nests and that’s when you deploy the tubes. Ticks are spreading rapidly globally though and this timing is designed for the northeastern United States as that’s where Lyme disease is most prevalent. If you live elsewhere this may vary for you.

  • Q: How many tick tubes should I use?

    A: Tick tubes are placed ten feet apart around the perimeter of the treated area. The number of tick tubes you need is directly related to the size of your yard or the area you intend to treat for ticks. We treat about a quarter acre of space and that takes about 24 tick tubes. When in doubt, use more than less because they dissolve in less time than you’d think and you want to make sure you eliminate the ticks. Tick tubes can be made at home very inexpensively as shown above.

  • Q: Where can I buy tick tubes?

    A: You can buy the original tick tubes at Amazon.com (Prime eligible if you do that like I do). When I have purchased them, that’s where I’ve done so. This is a good option if you don’t want to mess around with poison or just aren’t much of a do-it-yourself person. However, we use a lot of these at our house and that’s how we got started creating them ourselves. The components are all pretty cheap and if you follow the instructions above you should be all set in no time.

  • Q: What are tick tubes?

    A: Tick tubes are an effective way to reduce the population of ticks in your yard. They are cardboard tubes that contain a material (usually cotton) that mice use for nesting. The material is laced with a pesticide that kills ticks.

  • Q: How do tick tubes work?

    A: Tick tubes contain cotton that is laced with a pesticide to kill ticks. Mice take the cotton to make their nests, which kills the ticks on the mice. This works because mice are a major breeding ground for ticks and they help distribute them throughout your yard.

What are the most effective strategies for killing ticks in your area? Let us know in the comments below!

Take a look at our Lyme disease topic page to learn more.

About the author

Sabrina Wilson

Sabrina Wilson is an author and homemaker who is passionate about a holistic approach to health. When she is not writing she can be found tooling around in her garden with the help of her appropriately named dog Digby, bicycling in the park, and occasionally rock climbing…badly. Sabrina is a staff writer for the Organic Daily Post.

7 Ways to Make Your Yard Hostile to Ticks - Organic Daily Post - November 19, 2014

[…] effective strategy is to lay tick tubes around the perimeter of the safe zone. Tick tubes contain cotton laced with Permethrin, which is […]

Chris - April 3, 2015

Hi! Do you dilute the 10% permethrin? The bottle instructions give dilution rates for lawn or domicile applications. Or do you just transfer the liquid directly to a spray bottle and apply it to the cotton balls? Thanks!

    Christine - April 27, 2015

    I was curious about this too, and read on another site to use a permethrin solution of 5-10% on the cotton balls.

      Sabrina Wilson - April 28, 2015

      The directions on the bottle indicate a much lower concentration but I did far more last year and would be comfortable with a solution in that range, it just uses more permethrin.

        John Sanborn - October 11, 2017

        We need to remember that the label is a legal document. Deviating from it is not just a waste of product. And if you do, you’re being hypocritical if you complain about commercial applicators.

        Dilution is relatively easy, if the solution is 30% and we double the water, we’ve made it a 15% solution.

Michelle - April 17, 2015

If this is mammal safe, why is it contraindicated for cats? Last time I looked Felix Domesticus is a mammal.

    Sabrina Wilson - April 18, 2015

    It’s thought to be safe for mammals for skin application because of the poor skin absorption. Cats are constantly grooming themselves though, and it’s not safe for ingestion.

    Sandy - April 29, 2015

    Cats are more sensitive to permethrins. They don’t metabolize the chemical as well as other mammals, so they develop toxic levels with a lower dose. This is why Advantage (and other permethrin-based topical flea/tick preventives) says not to use on cats! I know of cats living with dogs that have become toxic when the dog was treated.

      AV - May 14, 2015

      I believe it’s K9 Advantix, not Advantage.

    bob - February 28, 2016

    Not every mammal is the same and just because cats are mammals doesn’t mean that something that wont generally affect human or dogs or horses wont be deadly to felines. Permethrin, just like essential oils are generally safe for most mammals but are highly toxic to felines.
    If it helps, think of Chrysanthemum flowers… most mammals can chomp on them without too much ill effect but every cat owner knows how deadly they are to cats.
    In fact permethrin is the synthetic\man-made version of the chemical in chrysanthemum that is also toxic to cats.

    Cher - April 26, 2016

    Michelle, it says “low mammalian toxicity”. It does not say “mammal safe”. However, in the paragraph that follows it goes on to say it is very dangerous to cats, fish and insects, including beneficial insects. I wouldn’t risk using permethrin in any strength near my home. I’m going to read the above link hoping for a non-lethal option that only affects ticks. Fingers crossed!

      Sabrina Wilson - April 27, 2016

      Yes, check the call out boxes above, cedar oil is what you want.

John Kroposky - April 19, 2015

This is not a good idea if you own cats or dogs .. They just might ingest it as well … if you can’t afford the drops for your pets or the vaccines .. stay in the city ..

    Sabrina Wilson - April 19, 2015

    Hidden cardboard tubes in the woods aren’t a real attraction for cats and dogs the way they are for mice. If it worries you, then definitely look at other methods. Cedar oil is another method that can be applied directly to pets, though still better for dogs than cats because of cat grooming. The issue isn’t really affordability though. The drops and repellents they put on pets are very toxic, especially to children.

      Kayla T - March 9, 2018

      Could I apply cedar oil to the cotton balls rather than the permethrin? Would that be as effective?

        Sabrina Wilson - March 10, 2018

        No, cedar oil degrades much more quickly than permethrin. It might work for one day, but then you’d need to re-apply it to the cotton, which isn’t practical.

      Steve - June 7, 2019

      the concern isnt of cats contacting the tick tubes. the concern is that the cats eat mice that are contaminated from the tubes and thus poison the cat. dogs may be an issue as they will play with and eat about anything.

    Joni - March 28, 2018

    Some of us want to protect our families, AS WELL as our pets, from ticks and Lyme disease. I live in rural Maine and last year we couldn’t even walk to the car without getting a few ticks on us. We learned about tick tubes a little too late last year, but this year we’ve been saving up all our tp tubes and dryer lint and are getting ready to have a tick tube making party! I already have Lyme and it’s something I want to protect the rest of my family from at all cost.

Amy L - April 20, 2015

I’m wondering if there is any reason why I can’t use short left-over scraps of pvc tube instead of cardboard? My yard is small and it would be easy for me to collect the tubes in the late fall and reuse them the next year.

    Sabrina Wilson - April 20, 2015

    You definitely can, my brother-in-law does exactly that. I use cardboard because I have to toss them into briar patches and other places I couldn’t easily retrieve them for the next treatment. You put new cotton out in April and July.

      Shari - April 20, 2018

      Sabrina – Your suggestion of using dryer lint is creative, but dryer lint is likely to contain synthetic fibers, which would not biodegrade.

        Sabrina Wilson - April 20, 2018

        Not in my laundry, but that’s a fair point generally speaking, yes.

    Steve - June 7, 2019

    pvc should be fine. any container willl suffice, the paper tubes are offered for conivienience, availability, and because they’re biodegradable. PVC would actually protect them from rain better though and if your going to reuse them.

RiverRat37 - April 28, 2015

It seems to me that goal is to “infect” the mice with the toxin that in turn will infect & kill the ticks. BUT, if the mice are infected and cats especially enjoy eating mice ……. will that make dead cats?

    Sabrina Wilson - April 28, 2015

    Yes, I noted here and it’s in the instructions that you should keep it away from cats. How crazy you want to go with that is up to you. We’re very concerned about the tick population and don’t have any cats so I disregard that.

      RiverRat37 - April 30, 2015

      It might be wise, therefore, to check and see if your neighbors have any cats. And what about owls, hawks, bobcats, or other carnivorous animals that may eat our “infected” mice? It seems to me that most new solutions create new problems. I’d hate to be responsible for killing off wildlife inadvertently.

    kd - July 6, 2015

    The mice are not “infected”. The mice use the permethrin-treated cotton to line their nest, thereby coating themselves and baby mice with permethrin. In most areas, mice are the major vector (host) for the ticks. If every mouse in your area is toxic to ticks, then the ticks will either try to bite the mouse and die, or will simply not find a suitable host and die. Either way, they won’t live long enough to feed and lay eggs. After using tick tubes for two years, I think I’ve effectively decimated the tick population around my yard. But deer still come through, so I still lay out the tubes!

      Shirley - July 9, 2019

      kd, do you really notice a decline in the ticks? I know Damminix says they are 90% effective, but I would like an unbiased opinion before I do this, thanks!

    Vlad - February 9, 2016

    You’re not infecting the mice, You’re treating their nest to kill ticks that come in contact with the treated cotton balls. That’s what kills the damn things, not ‘inoculated’ mice.

      Sabrina Wilson - February 10, 2016

      The poison gets on their fur and kills the ticks, it’s not internally inoculating the mice, that’s right. That was just taking some creative license with the writing.

      jim - May 6, 2018

      Vlad, your so full of anger, the hatred comes out so readily, would you actually talk to someone like that? your social skills are extremely selfish and poor. and most important, you couldn’t even process the information correctly. Not to start an argument, so slow down, process.

        Ab - May 24, 2020

        Jim, your response to Vlad is condescending, rude, and wrong. Check yourself before criticizing someone else’s clarification of the facts.

          JC - June 30, 2021

          Ab, your response to Jim who was responding to Vlad is condesc…


          But seriously. Vlad didn’t sound that angry to me either.

    reggie - March 4, 2016

    That is my thought TOO, about the the cat. Would like to find a safer way to deal with the ticks.

    Mike - March 17, 2016

    If the cats are keeping the mouse population under control, you probably won’t
    be using this method to target ticks. No mice…no ticks to target using permethrin tubes. You will have to come up with some other way to target ticks.

    CJ - May 1, 2017

    The mice are not infected – they are just lining their nest with cotton. In general, people should not allow cats to roam outdoors – for lots of reasons. That said, when cats kill a mouse, they don’t tend to eat it in my experience, especially if they are being cared for. They tend to mostly “play” with it.

    Ilene - December 10, 2017

    Given the statics that cats kill millions of song birds yearly-KEEP YOUR CATS INDOORS! Between cats and habitat loss, this is a serious problem. Most vets will tell you that your cats are also healthier for it too.

ErikR - May 8, 2015

I really enjoyed your article on making tick tubes. I had read that the Permethrin breaks down and is less effective after a month or two. If I have bought more Permethrin than I need for a season, does it lose efficacy in the can/bottle as well and then becomes useless for the next year? Or does it lose potency only when exposed to air or something else?

    Sabrina Wilson - May 8, 2015

    Yes, it won’t last forever outside and the tubes need to be deployed twice per season. However, as long as it doesn’t freeze or get above 100 degrees, Permethrin has no limit to the shelf life. If properly kept you can use that bottle you have indefinitely.

Lee Rowan - May 8, 2015

Excuse me, this crap is poison. How do you get “organic” out of it? It kills bees, too. If you have a ‘cedar oil’ idea, then write about THAT.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 8, 2015

    We did write about that, it’s linked from the article above and can be found here: https://organicdailypost.com/cedar-oil-the-best-natural-tick-repellent/

    Organic is the general theme of the site but we are also super concerned about Lyme disease so we veered a little off track for this article, which generally seems to have been well-received. Mice don’t like cedar oil though, so it can’t be used in the tick tubes.

    CJ - May 1, 2017

    Yes, Permethrin is a poison; however, you are not spraying it anywhere that bees will want to get to; you are applying it to cotton in a tube. It’s not being spread around to places other insects, etc. will seek out. Our vet is a beekeeper and she does use these tubes.

    Bob666 - June 7, 2017

    Go start your own organic website and write articles about stuff that actually works ( instead of the old organic wives tales that are often written ) and stop bitching about someone else’s website. JMHO.

    Dana Basiliere - November 7, 2017

    The bees will not be near the hidden tubes of cotton. She does not spray the poison so it will not affect the bees and butterflies that are beneficial pollinators and our friends.

    Kim wilkins - March 26, 2019

    It onlly kills bees if sprayed on plants. This is limited to cotton balls in the tube. Most bees will not be in the tube.

    Ab - May 24, 2020

    ‘Cedar oil’ is poisonous also or it would not work. And cedar is a strong allergen.
    Why would a bee crawl into this tube after cotton balls?

    This site is providing a very good alternative to wholesale spraying to control ticks and their diseases (16 per CDC). So using a tiny amount of a chemical that is very safe for humans, should fall under responsible use by anyone, except maybe by the organic zealots that don’t truly understand the basic argument of what is to be accomplished.

claire - May 8, 2015

How on earth is this “organic”? Just look at all the other insects it kills, bees included which are having a hard enough time as it is. Think about the food chain you are introducing this poison into. Really irresponsible article.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 8, 2015

    Yes, as pointed out elsewhere, organic is the general theme of the site but we are also super concerned about Lyme disease so we veered a little off track for this article, which generally seems to have been well-received.

Nancy Besser - May 9, 2015

What does a tic look like please? Not sure if I saw one or not.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 9, 2015

    They look like this:

    Three ticks

Cedar Oil the best natural tick repellent | Crafty Workshop Project. - May 9, 2015

[…] reduce them. I’ve settled on a set of strategies that includes elements of landscape design, tick tubes and […]

Michelle Wigfall - May 9, 2015

Not that cotton balls are expensive in the least, but dryer lint is free. I’m assuming the mice would enjoy that fluffy stuff as well. I keep a little box by the dryer that I empty when full, so I always have plenty. Definitely going to set this up for my mom’s property, thank you.

Luna - May 10, 2015

What about it harming bumblebees? Permethrin is toxic to all bees in general, but bumblebees often set up ground hives in abandoned mice nests. Bumblebees especially like cotton type substances as bedding. Aren’t you afraid you are setting up a death chamber for bumblebees as well as ticks?

dara - May 11, 2015

Isn’t this supposed to be an organic daily post? and yet you are advertising for a chemical product that is killing bees! and a load of other useful insects, all for a chance at reducing the number of ticks? wow…great advice..when there we’ll be no more bees we won’t have to worry much about ticks though

Jean - May 13, 2015

Please don’t put this chemical in the yard. Look at the list of other insects and arachnids that can be harmed – that list includes pollinators!! Just check yourself for ticks every time you com in.

Brad - May 26, 2015

I also spray a solution of Sevin from a pump sprayer on all the trees/leaves around the yard. This will kill the ticks on contact. It isn’t fool-proof, so I will be using the home-made tick tubes as well.

Trish - June 6, 2015

You’re awesome for posting this. One thing confounds me though. On Amazon Permethrin is being sold as an insect REPELLANT rather than marketed so much as a poison. Reviewers confirm this. If ticks are repelled by this stuff then how are they going to bite the mice that are nesting in it in order to die?

    Sabrina Wilson - June 8, 2015

    Thanks! Permethrin is definitely a poison, you’ll see that on the bottle. It is also a repellent. The idea is that the ticks are already nesting with the mice, so when the mouse brings the poisoned cotton home they kill the ticks that are already there.

    kd - July 6, 2015

    Either way, if every mouse in your area is toxic or repellent to ticks, they will likely not find a suitable host to feed on. Since they need a blood meal to transition from larva to nymph, and again from nymph to adult, many will not be able to become adults and lay eggs. This interruption of the life cycle is what I’m trying to achieve.

Lauren - June 17, 2015

The people who are saying this is an irresponsible article must not know anyone with severe Lyme disease or other co-infections. It is a devastating illness! Thank you for posting article!

dd - June 17, 2015

Here in NH, Permethrin is a great way to assist in combating ticks. The application guide for Permethrin is actually to apply it to your clothing (not while you wear it!!!!), let it dry for a couple hours before donning. This becomes a VERY effective barrier. The ticks will come in contact with your clothing and be introduced to the nerve toxin. By the time they make it to your skin or a part of your body to bit into, they will start to die. We have observed the kill times are about 20~60 minutes.
If you are looking for an actual organic way of creating a barrier for ticks and mosquitos, look into Essentria IC3. We bought a fogger and IC3 concentrate to spray the property perimeter. We have seen a massive reduction in mosquitos and ticks, and we live adjacent to a wet marsh where both critters love to hang out. IC3 is Rosemary Oil, Geraniol, and Peppermint Oil. This is National Organics Program (NOP) compliant. It smells great, and has been amazing. But it does require regular treatments. I have been applying every 2~3 weeks. But well worth the results.

Mary - June 25, 2015

I agree with Lauren. My whole family has been dealing with the effects of Lyme disease. It has drastically impacted our quality of life and has cost us a fortune in unpaid medical expenses. If using Permethrin is going to protect us from being reinfected, then I’m going to use it! It’s not like we’re spraying it all over the place. I see no harm in using it to make tick tubes. For spraying in the yard, we use what “dd” also uses…. Essentria IC3.

14. Steps to Tick-Proof your Property | The Garden Lady - June 26, 2015

[…] is the mouse. To eliminate ticks on mice from your property you can either make a tick bait called tick tubes or buy it already prepared at your hardware store or online. (see here) 12. ) Remember to get […]

Jon - August 31, 2015

I have a bottle of Viper Insect Concentrate from Amazon. It contains Cypermethrin – 25.4%, a synthetic permethrin. Will that work as well or does it really need to be permethrin?

    Sabrina Wilson - September 6, 2015

    It just needs to kill the ticks so while I don’t know anything about that particular substance, it sounds like it would work.

Jerri - March 3, 2016

I wonder if I could use polyfil instead of cotton? I have several bags from other projects. Thanks!

    Sabrina Wilson - March 3, 2016

    Yeah, if it’s similar to cotton I’m sure it’s fine. The mice aren’t picky.

Gail - March 19, 2016

How early can u put them out? Ticks r already out in force in minnesota. Can the tick tubes freeze and still work?

    Sabrina Wilson - March 20, 2016

    Good question. It was a mild winter so I’m sure they’re out early this year. I am not entirely certain but I would think that if the permethrin freezes it may not easily get onto the mouse’s fur. However, I think that’s only a problem when it’s actually frozen. I don’t think freezing the permethrin reduces the effectiveness, so when it thaws it will start working again. I’d go ahead and put them out now.

Alicia - April 5, 2016

Yes, I agree that this isn’t very suitable for an organic site. I’d love to see some more natural and eco-friendly options listed. I have heard that chickens can pretty much eliminate the tick population too. There must be other means to control ticks without risking other wildlife in the area. I’d also be concerned with using these if kids are around.

    Ashley - May 5, 2017

    Hmm…guess you’ve never actually had chickens,…or ticks. There are currently no other good ways to control tick populations. A chicken will eat a tick if its right in front of her, but she certainly won’t go searching them out in order to reduce your tick population by any meaningful degree. Neither will Guinea fowl, which is an often seen internet rumor. If you read the scientific literature, you would know that tick populations are exploding and more and more tick borne illnesses are being identified, many with life altering, long term complications. IF there were effective organic, super eco-friendly options out there, don’t you think the internet would be teeming with posts about such options? When used in this manner, permethrin is very safe. It can be used around birds, farm animals, wildlife, etc with very low chances of toxicity. The exception to this may be cats, though they should be kept indoors exclusively, as they wreak havoc on native bird populations. If you are a responsible cat owner, these tubes pose absolutely no danger. Any child over the age of 3-4 can easily be taught not to bother these and children younger than this shouldn’t be left outside unattended anyway. Even if a child were to find one of the tubes, they would have to eat almost a pound of cotton balls treated with permethrin to have a toxic effect. Of course the bowel obstruction from eating a pound of cotton would probably be an issue too. My biggest concern would be to beneficial insects, but this method allows for a very small amount of pesticide to be placed in strategic locations to limit beneficial insect exposure. It sure beats the “mosquito squad” companies spraying all manner of toxic substances on your yard.

KB - April 16, 2016

Thank you for this article! I like the idea of just putting out the tubes as opposed to spraying the entire lawn. I’ve been battling Lyme disease for over five years and will do just about anything to eradicate ticks. Last year we set mouse traps but I felt terribly guilty killing them and it didn’t kill ticks so we stopped. Yes, I too am concerned about wildlife eating the mice, but trust me folks, you don’t want Lyme. And, mice are in the city too so moving doesn’t help.

FYI – the nymph (baby ticks) are just as detrimental to your health as adult ticks. They are size of a freckle and that’s what’s hanging out on the mice.

    Sabrina Wilson - April 16, 2016

    All true, and I’d say the nymph stage ticks are far worse than the adults. They can be the size of a poppy seed, so they are just very difficult to locate until it’s too late.

Carrie rockwood - April 24, 2016

great article, Thank you ! I will be making these today!

Cathy - April 30, 2016

Thank you for the article Sabrina. We do need solutions! I will try it all to keep my family safe.There are so many sick people infected with lyme disease. Not that long ago I came across a young boy that went blind from a bite. Recently I was bit by a adult deer tick an waiting for results to see if tick had lyme.
I just purchased permethrin for clothing. Would this work as well?

    Sabrina Wilson - April 30, 2016

    It definitely does work, and they actually make clothes that are treated with permethrin for people who work in wooded areas. Permethrin doesn’t easily come out of your clothes though and it is a poison so I don’t do that myself. For use on my clothes and skin, I use cedar oil which seems to be quite effective though it’s not nearly as long lasting as permethrin (which is a pro and a con).

Kristy - May 4, 2016

A couple of questions: when do mice mate and build nests in north Georgia? And, what about the effects of rain on the cardboard tick tubes? It rains a lot here. Thanks.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 4, 2016

    We are also on Eastern time in the US, so it’s probably the same for you as it is here, April and July. Cardboard does eventually disintegrate, which is a benefit really, but it takes long enough that the mice have time to pull out the cotton.

Beth - May 5, 2016

So, I bought the Permethrin 10% solution. It comes with two reservoirs of liquid, a big and a small one. Do you mix them both together before diluting in water? I read through the instruction twice, I see nothing mentioned of the small reservoir or what to do with the liquid in it! Help?!?

    Sabrina Wilson - May 5, 2016

    I’ve always basically ignored that to be honest. It’s for measuring out the appropriate amount for spraying but since we’re not spraying this (tick tubes use far less than spraying), I use the small side to pour it because it’s less likely to spill. But I just use it as a secondary pour spout, nothing more.

Emily - June 28, 2016

Permethrin is dangerous to cats! It will affect their nervous system. I use the permethrin outdoors and immediately change my clothes and wash my hands when I go inside so my cat won’t be harmed. It’s worked this way so far.

Lisa - October 14, 2016

Will these only work if put out in April and July? It is mid October now and I’ve been saving tubes and dryer lint to make these thinking it would be good to get them out before the first frost as mice are foraging and getting ready to over winter.

    Sabrina Wilson - October 16, 2016

    Those are the times (at least in the northeast US) when the mice are mating and making nests. However, ticks survive in winter and can be active year round, so putting them out now isn’t a bad idea. We just rarely go into the woods during winter and there is far less vegetation that ticks can use to attach themselves to you. That’s why we focus on the spring and summer.

Liz - October 22, 2016

Hi Sabrina,

I’m in Maine spring through fall. Tons of deer ticks and numerous neighbors being bit with some developing Lyme. (Along with pets) I’m living on a lake. My question is, “how far from the water should the tick tubes be placed?” I’ve read that Permethrin is toxic to aquatic life. Also, I’ve noticed that the Dammnix tick tubes have a Permethrin concentration of 7.4%. Why such a difference in concentrations?

FR - November 11, 2016

To those complaining about toxicity effects on other insects and animals, please understand that tick tubes are one of the ecologically safest ways to combat ticks and Lyme disease. They interrupt the life cycle of ticks so they can’t be spread by deer and other mammals. Unlike mouse baits (d-CON, Tomcat), which are ingested and do make mice highly toxic to other animals, tick tubes containing permethrin make the mouse nest toxic to ticks while using a minimal amount of permethrin. Yes, some permethrin gets on the mouse fur as well, but it is not ingested, so the chemical toxicity is not increased in the mouse’s body, like what happens with baits. I am strongly against using mouse baits and directly spraying insecticides, as they do pose an ecological risk, but tick tubes using permethrin are a very targeted way to combat ticks and Lyme disease. A minimal amount of permethrin is used, so run-off is much less of an issue for fish, and bees likely would never come into contact with the tubes or mouse nest. The risk of Lyme disease is real and increasing, and this is the most responsible and effective way to mitigate that risk that I have found, while still respecting the environment.

    Sabrina Wilson - November 12, 2016

    Good points!

stephanie kobialka - November 26, 2016

Thanks for this article. We just moved to a wooded area and after letting out dogs play out back I pulled ticks off each of them. I love this idea since we know for sure there are mice in our yard. Since our yard is fenced I have no worries about neighboring cats, as they shouldn’t be in our yard anyway. After reading these old comments, I feel like bees won’t be affected since I’ll be using the tubes and not spraying the yard itself. I do love bees and plan on having a wild flower garden just for them to have a spot. The only concern I had was for the bats in the area, but a quick google search shows permethrin is safe for them too. Again thanks for the information & have a great day!

Amy - February 17, 2017

Get guinea fowl, they eat ticks. We’ve had guineas for four years and have had zero ticks on us, the dogs,or cats !

Pauline - March 10, 2017

A far safer method is using neem oil which is not toxic to cats/dogs and equally important not to bees. These cotton balls could find their way into birds nests and permethrin is harmful to birds and many other beneficial insects. DE is also a much safer method which can be used outside.

    Ashley - May 5, 2017

    permethrin is actually not harmful to birds and is used to treat avian mite infestations.

Barbara Vanderbilt - March 18, 2017

So what happens to my indoor cat who kills a mouse that has gotten in and then eats in – fur and all! We live in the woods and ticks are a huge problem for us – but I can’t risk making my cats sick.

    Sabrina Wilson - March 18, 2017

    I would stick to cedar oil in that case.

Victor A - March 30, 2017


Thank you for this excellent tutorial, I will be making my own tubes (but I don’t think then need to be tube shaped). I came across the study (link below), that I believe Damminix quotes in their 90% claim, and that study shows that the population of ticks ON MICE was reduced, but there were no significant difference in the treated areas. But I do see a lot of anecdotal support for tubes by many people online. Most of them state that they have noticed the difference after tube treatment.

Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1941927


AGH - April 9, 2017

According to the company Thermacell, which is a competitor of Damminix, tick tubes do NOT harm cats. It claims: The EPA has no published reports, nor records of any incidents associated with the use of permethrin-treated tick tubes. Furthermore, a toxicity study shows that a small cat of 3 or 4 pounds would have to eat more than 100 mice per day to show any adverse effects. Most cats don’t eat more than 6 mice, indicating the risk of exposure is acceptable.

I think that these products would no longer be on the market if people were losing their beloved cats.

Laurie M - April 12, 2017

Will birds be affected by permetherin?

    Sabrina Wilson - April 12, 2017

    From what I’ve read, it’s low in toxicity to birds. They say you shouldn’t use it in an aerosol spray around birds as it may be harmful for them to inhale it. That sounds like a terrible idea for any poison though.

Janet murphy - April 13, 2017

Can you use the permethrin that you can spray on your clothes on the cotton balls?

    Sabrina Wilson - April 13, 2017

    Yes, permethrin is always the same more or less. It just varies in the dilution based on the specific use. You can buy it in different concentrations, so based on what you have you just do the math to get the proper dilution for tick tubes.

debra annen - April 28, 2017

your article says that it kills bees as well as other beneficial insects such as spiders. What happens when birds eat the contaminated insects?

Clyde - April 28, 2017

I recommend coating the tubes in paraffin – a bit of an extra step but keeps the tubes from falling apart when they get damp or wet. Easy to do – inexpensive and can usually be found where ever the supermarket has canning supplies or just order it form Amazon. How you melt it and apply it is up to you, I’m sure one can figure out how to apply melted wax!

Lisa M - May 3, 2017

Just be aware that permethrin is highly toxic to cats

Tim Miller - May 10, 2017

In the article you give the following dilution

“The instructions on my bottle of Permethrin SFR for reducing lawn tick populations call for 0.4 to 0.8 ounces of Permethrin to 4 to 25 gallons of water.”

If my calculations are correct, the most concentrated permethrin solution for spraying directly on the lawn (1 oz permethrin in 4 gal water-just to keep it simple) comes out to be 0.02% permethrin and most dilute permethrin solution for spraying directly on the lawn about 0.003%. Given that low concentration in the lawn spray on preparation, why do you think that 7.4% permethrin (about 350x greater) is needed in the cotton balls? If anything, I would think that the concentration in the cotton balls would be less than the lawn spray on concentration, since the mice bring the permethrin containing cotton into the nest, in effect concentrate and increase the amount of permethrin in the immediate environment of the nest.
The only reason I bring this point up is to see if I can reduce the amount of permethrin in the environment and to make it less likely that my cat will run into problems.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 10, 2017

    I don’t spray Permethrin on my lawn, we were just quoting what’s on the bottle there so I’m not sure why that differential is so huge. I do know that 7.5% is pretty much standard for tick tubes. Tick tubes by design are far more contained in terms of delivery.

Peter - May 16, 2017

Hi. Great & informative page. I’m making my tick tubes now.

But…I think your dilution calculation is not correct. In order for 36.8% Permethrin to dilute down to approx. 7.4%, you mix:

1 part Permethrin (Example 1 oz. Permethrin) with FOUR parts Water. (Not five parts). The total solution in this example then equals 5 ounces.

A website dilution calculator to use is:

Concentration before dilution = 36.8%
Volume before dilution – 1 oz
Concentration after solution= 7.4%
Volume after dilution = 4.973 oz (approx. 5oz)
Volume of solvent (in this case water) needed for dilution = 3.973 oz (apprx. 4 oz water)

Blut und Boden - May 18, 2017

Kill ticks by killing basically every other insect around (and poisoning mice), no matter how helpful they are to the natural environment? Not very organic.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 18, 2017

    We discuss the organic-ness of this in the article, but the nature of this method is that it’s very targeted. It doesn’t poison the mice (though most people don’t want them around the house anyway) and it’s targeted to the mice and their nests. This keeps the poison limited to where it’s most effective and minimizes the effects on other insects to a greater extent than pretty much any other use of the poison.

Lori Geurin - May 25, 2017

Thanks for the great explanation about how to make tick tubes! The visuals are great, and the video too.

Can’t wait to implement this.

Joel - June 2, 2017

Why do I need the tubes? Why can’t we just leave the cotton balls around the yard? Especially if they’re under foliage they won’t get diluted by the rain or dew.

    Sabrina Wilson - June 2, 2017

    The mice prefer the dry cotton for their nests. The tubes are also the only component that is 100% free, just save your toilet paper rolls.

Wendy - June 5, 2017

I am wondering what the affect of Permethrin might be on the wild snakes about? Love my black snakes who help keep the rodent population down.

Annie - June 26, 2017

Can you give me the dilution and directions for cockroaches using this?

Evelyn - June 29, 2017

Does this method also apply to tick removal from chipmunks?

    Sabrina Wilson - June 29, 2017

    That’s a really good question. I’m not sure if the chipmunks are as attracted to the cotton as nesting material although it seems reasonable to think so.

Jackie - July 5, 2017

Would dryer lint be as effective as cotton balls when making the tick tubes

    Sabrina Wilson - July 5, 2017


Rebecca C. McCue - October 1, 2017

Don’t you worry about kiling bees.
No bees = no produce, right?
Or was I misinformed about the bees?

Helen Olena - October 19, 2017

I am having a hard time making these tick tubes. I bought the smaller container of the recommended product which was 16 oz of a 10% permethrin solution. I diluted all 16 oz with 5.5 oz of water to make an approximate 7.4 % solution.

When I put my solution in a spray bottle it was too heavy or thick and only came out in a stream. The sprayer eventually clogged. Transfering to a second spray bottle the same thing happened. I am guessing the manufactuer had added an adjuvicant (read spreader, sticker).

So my cotton balls ended up drenched in some places and dry in other places. Now 24hrs later they haven’t seemed to dry at all.

Any advice for me? Thanks! Helen

C.Till - December 15, 2017

I was curious. It says mice take the cotton balls. Squirrels and chipmunks are also known to carry ticks. Small mammals such as that. I would guess these animals will also use the cotton balls for nests? They actually collect items before winter here in Maine for winter beds. All these animals are active now and I bet would collect these all year long.

▷ 7 Ways to Kill Ticks Naturally in Your Yard - January 21, 2018

[…] – deer, rodents, raccoons, etc., as they carry ticks2) Natural poison or repellent in yard – tick tubes, garlic spray, neem spray, cedar oil, diatomaceous earth3) Landscape properly – Remove leaves, […]

▷ How to Use Cedar Oil - The Natural Bug Repellent - February 15, 2018

[…] to reduce them. I've settled on a set of strategies that includes elements of landscape design, tick tubes and […]

Elisa - March 12, 2018

Hi Sabrina I want to thank you profusely for this very well written article.
Our neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods are overrun with deer and Lyme disease. We have started a tick tube making project, and have linked to this article and sent it out to thousands of households. I see that a few people have given you a hard time for writing about a pesticide. We are also bringing in archery hunters to shoot the deer. That’s when people really give you a hard time! Here’s to solving the problem of Lyme disease 🙂

Dawn - April 7, 2018

April is stereotypically rainy where I live… Does it lessen the effectiveness if tube or cotton get wet or do we need to wait for a dry stretch of days?

Sara - April 23, 2018

Is this safe for dogs? Safe if they’re sniffing the tubes? Also, does rain soaking the toilet paper tubes and cotton balls wash away the Permethrin? Might it be better to use pvc pipe that is water proof? Plus, how many cotton balls do you put in each tube?

    Sabrina Wilson - April 23, 2018

    Dogs won’t be interested in the tubes and it’s cats that are particularly susceptible to it. The cotton and the tubes are bio-degradable and that’s by design. You can use PVC if you want, but I don’t like having to rummage through the forest for them. I put enough cotton balls in so that they stay in place, pushing on either side with my fingers until they are lodged in there. The number of them depends on how large they are and that varies. I’ve used large cotton balls and it only took maybe 3 of them, but the more average size balls may take 6-7.

Nick - May 3, 2018

Paper-towel or toilet-paper tubes will simply come apart the first time they get wet. If one is going to DIY this, one is going to need tubes that are more durable.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 3, 2018

    The mice will find the cotton pretty quickly. That the tube disintegrates is a feature, not a bug. It means you don’t have to go around and collect them later.

Stephanie - May 15, 2018

most of my lint is dog fur and I have an abundance of dog fur from brushing my dogs. will this work as well as fabric lint or cotton balls?

Chuck - September 1, 2018

The permethrin includes a second liquid to make an emulsion. Do I need to use that when I make the tick tubes? Thanks!

    Sabrina Wilson - September 1, 2018

    Mine doesn’t have that, but I would say yes, it probably makes it last longer.

      Chuck - September 2, 2018

      The picture of the Permethrin bottle shown above has 2 caps on it. The one cap leads to the big chamber with most of the liquid; the other goes to a much smaller chamber, which has the emulsion. My bottle has that, too. Looked up “emulsion”, it just says that it’s one liquid suspended in another, like oil and water.

      Chuck - September 8, 2018

      I decided against adding the emulsifier, since I was diluting the permethrin in water. Seemed like it would get lost in the water and I was concerned that it might clog the sprayer nozzle. I’ve put out a bunch of tubes (used PVC rather than cardboard), but I haven’t seen any cotton balls removed just. Glad to have this option, thanks for this web page!

Donna - September 5, 2018

Will my cats be susceptible to illness or death by eating the mice that came in contact with the cotton balls?

Stacie - September 14, 2018

I was hoping to make the tubes, but see I missed the best months. Would it still be worth it ( would they be at all effective) at this point, in September?

    Sabrina Wilson - September 14, 2018

    Not really, best to wait until next year assuming you’re in the US.

Donna - April 24, 2019

Question, and forgive me if it has been asked before.. do we place the saturated/wet cotton in the tubes, or does the cotton need to dry before putting in the Tubes? Thank you!

    Sabrina Wilson - April 24, 2019

    I wet them and then stuff them right into the tubes. However, they don’t need to be soaking wet or you’re wasting permethrin. I just spray them down until I’m sure they all got hit and then put them in the tubes. So the cotton balls are wet on the outside but still dry on the inside.

A - April 28, 2019

Curious if anyone has tried to make a tick tube with cedar oil instead of Permethrin, which is dangerous for cats and also kills many other other beneficial insects?

    Sabrina Wilson - April 29, 2019

    It won’t work because cedar oil isn’t nearly as durable, it won’t last long enough to work. Tick tubes are a very contained way to deploy Permethrin. It’s not perfect but it’s about the best you can hope for. I’ve never actually heard of anyone whose cat was harmed by tick tubes though it’s a common concern.

Rebecca R. - May 1, 2019

What about mowing the lawn? We rent, and someone else mows. We also have a shared lawn border with a neighbor behind us.

    Sabrina Wilson - May 1, 2019

    These shouldn’t be on the lawn where anyone would mow. They should be in higher grass/brush areas where the mice will be.

Danielle - November 19, 2019

This may be a stupid question but why do you need the tubes? Can you just put permethrin sprayed cotton or dryer lint out without the tubes?

    Sabrina Wilson - November 21, 2019

    It would get wet and soggy and the mice don’t want to put soggy materials in their nest.

Craig - January 27, 2020

To go from 37% permethrin to 7.4%, I believe your dilution rate should be 4 parts water to 1 part permethrin, rather than 5 parts water to 1 part permethrin.

Aleza - June 16, 2020

If my cat eats a mouse that nests in permethrin cotton balls, will it harm my cat?

Brett - June 18, 2020

Bought the 10% solution on Amazon, did he math and diluted it a little bit too 7.5%. At that dilution it did not spray from bottle, only squirted the Permethrin. It was thick like syrup. I had to use my gloved hands to spread it around the cotton balls. Is that normal?

Joel Orlinsky - April 21, 2021

Commercially available tick tube MSDS states are 7.4% permethrin, 92.6% cotton. Is says nothing about the concentration of permethrin that was applied to the cotton.
I have been unable to determine the correct concentration.

Steve Prill - April 27, 2021

Great information.

I live in MIchigan on the west coast north of Holland which is considered Midwest. Is there a particular time in (you state April and July for mideast) that is best for my area?

April and July is also pretty broad for mideast. Is April 1st to soon, July 31st too late?

Thank you –

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: