English Ivy: A Haven For Ticks?

English Ivy, haven for ticks
English Ivy killing a stand of pine

It is cold enough now that the ticks are dormant. One can walk the woods in some security. But this time of year now just breaks my heart. The bare winter trees are far too often overwhelmed by English Ivy — in yards, vacant lots, along our woods. A million trees, it seems, have been consigned to die because people are not really seeing what’s going on.

English Ivy: Birds Have Spread It All Over Long Island

As we reminded you last year, Winter Is The Perfect Time To Kill English Ivy. We offer here a handy guide that combined with the videos below should get you going. It was only three years ago that I came to understand just how destructive English Ivy is to our environment. Now, I can’t unsee it. It makes it tough just to drive up the street sometimes.

These Berries Will Carry This Invasive Vine Many Miles From Here

People will say “Well, it’s my property and I like it like this.” The problem here is that English Ivy spreads, and not just by their roots. Birds eat their berries, then fly off. That is why English Ivy is all over the trees at the edge of a woods or in vacant lots. This is where the birds will often fly next — not into the woods, but along them.

English Ivy Strangling White Poplar

That English Ivy kills trees is one thing. Altering the very habitat of our forest edges is another. English Ivy is non-native; our local insects won’t eat it. No natural “enemies.” It just becomes the dominant ground cover for the forest floor near to the tree line, smothering everything out, and providing refuge creatures we don’t want anywhere near us.

Tick Habitat: A Path through the woods covered in dead leaves and invasive English Ivy

It is in the grasses along the forest edge zones where the deer graze, where the ivy is prevalent, and where humans would enter the woods, and it is here where they each pick up ticks. Where from?: The White Footed Mouse has been determined to be the main vector for the spread of Lyme Disease.

White -Footed Mice Hiding in English Ivy

What if there wasn’t English Ivy running rampant along our woodland edges, parks, yards, vacant lots? For one thing, we would see far fewer white-footed mice, as our local raptor population would spot them far more readily. Further, clearing the invasive ivy would also make the ticks themselves were far more visible to all that can eat them.

A Barred Owl Catching a Mouse

In conclusion then if we want to have an effective tick management policy, we will need to improve the prospects of their main predators, and we do that by systematically removing English Ivy from our property, public and private, lot by lot because its killing our trees anyway.

Note this too: Robins also carry ticks. I even got one in my own yard, far away from any deer. Robins forage in those same edge grasses where the ticks also live. If we let our local lands go to ruin, it is no wonder we have more vermin than we should in our own yards.

If you know a place in your community where English Ivy has grown rampant please let us know in the comments. We can help organize local resources for its removal. It’s a stunning realization to first learn how invasive English Ivy is and then how it impacts the health of our forests, the animals that live within them, and it seems our own. Up to 90% of white-footed mice carry Lyme Disease. Let’s not give them a place to hide.

Here are two useful guides for English Ivy removal:

Removing English Ivy From Trees
Removing English Ivy Patches


  1. The infestation of English Ivy is destroying thousands of old growth historic trees on Long Island and millions in NY State now. The municipalities have undertaken no noticeable effort to alert residents of the tragic results of this infestation. Parts of the north shore now resemble something out of a science fiction movie. Home Depot, Amazon and other retailers are still allowed by NY State DEC to import and sell the species to ignorant residents. No help anywhere in sight. Our children and grandchildren will never see these roads shaded and beautified by these old trees. They will see rotting stumps . This species is banned from sale and import by several states in the Pacific Northwest as well and British Columbia. This is the most destructive , invasive species in North America.


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