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How to Make a Tick Trap

Posted August 15th, 2008 by Mike Cherim

In the article The Grand Tick Hunt we told you we’d cover the how-to of making an effective tick trap. Fulfilling that promise we offer this article. This is not the most practical trap, nor is it small, easy, disposable, or any of those other things that seem to strike a chord with the American consumer, but it is effective.

Getting Started

The first thing you should do is find a local source of dry ice. Without a source of dry ice making this specific trap isn’t really possible. That said, it’s not too difficult to find. To learn more about dry ice (solid carbon dioxide, CO2), and to find a source anywhere in the world, the DryIceInfo site will help. Once you’ve secured a source, read the important warnings about handling and using dry ice, you are now ready to start the trap. (Do not buy the dry ice until the trap is ready to be put into service.)

Materials List

Aside from a source of dry ice, you will need the following materials. Please note that for purposes of materials purchasing practicality, this list is for two traps:

  • One (1) sheet (4'x8 ') cheap ¼" plywood, halved.
  • Two (2) large styrofoam coolers (thickest walls possible).
  • Slender, serrated knife, or something to cut holes in the foam.
  • 32oz can of Insect Trap Coating or Tanglefoot Pest Barrier.
  • Cheap bristle paint brush, a foam brush is too wimpy.
  • Eight (8) screws long enough to pass through foam.
  • Screwdriver for the aforementioned screws.
  • A large portable cooler (for getting the dry ice, if needed).
  • Large heavy-duty gloves or ice tongs.

This is not an exact science so once the concept of this trap is understood, you should be able to easily make substitutions.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Using the serrated knife, cut four holes, one centered on each side, near the bottom of each cooler (about an inch up, but it depends on the cooler base thickness). The holes should be about ½" to ¾" and really not much larger for extended performance.
  2. Cut the plywood in half if not done already, then, using the screws — drywall or wood screws will be best — attach one cooler to the center of each plywood piece. The open end will be up and the screws should be applied near the corners on the inside of the cooler for better security.
  3. Place the two 4'x4' squares flat on the ground or atop low shrubs and scrub foliage, cooler side up, in the tick infested area (using precautions to protect yourself of course). Don’t put the traps in your yard, but rather on its periphery.
  4. Now it’s time to add the dry ice to the cooler. Use heavy gloves or ice tongs to transfer the ice block from the transport cooler to the trap’s cooler, or use two smaller transport coolers so you can transfer the ice directly by dumping it into the trap coolers.
    • DO NOT let dry ice touch your skin.
    • DO wear a long sleeve shirt and pants.
    • DO wear safety goggles.
  5. Secure the lid firmly and, using the brush, paint a band of the sticky goop about 2" wide and about one inch in from the edge of the plywood, encircling the entire perimeter of the board so the only way for a tick to get from the foliage to the cooler is to fly (ticks cannot) or traverse the plywood through the sticky trap.

That’s it, the trap is set and works passively. Replace the dry ice once expended. To make it last a little longer make smaller holes or stuff a cotton ball loosely in each hole. Also re-coat the trap’s sticky band as it fills with ticks, other bugs, and debris.

How It Works

It’s quite simple. Ticks are drawn to the CO2 and must pass across the band of sticky compound in order to find the source cooler. This is an highly effective method, but the trap is bit cumbersome and a bit expensive to operate. That said, it may be worth it to some. If that describes you, please check it out, and let us know what you think of its performance.


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