By Lisa Pecos
Spring isn’t all warm weather and sunshine, it’s also the kick-off to tick season. Ticks are tiny insects that carry big risks to humans and pets. Cases of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, are on the rise and protecting yourself and your loved ones is a must.
Though commercially available tick repellants are considered safe for use, many people would still prefer to avoid using DEET and other pesticides. Fortunately, there are natural tick repellants available, as well as things that you can do to help avoid contact with ticks while enjoying the warm weather.
How to Avoid/Limit Contact with Ticks
Use the following advice to help you avoid or limit contact with ticks:
- Stay away from wooded areas and areas with tall grass and leaf litter
- Regularly cut your lawn and clean up leaves
- Walk in the center of trails when on nature walks
- Wear long sleeves and tight-fitting clothing
- Tuck pant legs into socks
- Check yourself and others for ticks before entering your home
- Check your clothing, gear and bags for ticks
- Take a shower or bathe as soon as you get home from being outdoors
- Use a full-length mirror to check your entire body after returning from a tick-infested area
- Check your children for ticks, including behind the knees, in the hair, and between the legs
- Check your pets for ticks before letting them inside
- Tumble dry clothing on high heat for 10 minutes as soon as you arrive home. Clothing that requires washing should be washed in hot water
- Vacuum regularly, including under rugs and pet beds
Natural Tick Repellants
Scientists continue to study and develop all-natural tick repellants for those looking for chemical-free protection. These include compounds made from plants and fungi. The following are just some of the natural products listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to kill or repel ticks that are commercially available to buy.
- Garlic oil – This essential oil from garlic plants can be used to kill and repel blacklegged ticks on lawns and gardens.
- 2-undecanone – The essential oil derived from the leaves and stems of Lycopersicon hirsutum, which is wild tomato plant, can be applied to skin, clothing, and gear to repel ticks, including the lone star tick and blacklegged tick.
- Mixed essential oils – A combination of rosemary, cedar, peppermint, lemongrass, geraniol, and thyme essential oils can be used on skin, lawn, and gardens to repel ticks.
- Fungus (Metarhizium brunneum/anisopliae) – These fungi, which grow in soils around the world, are EPA-registered and available for use on lawns and gardens to kill ticks, mites and more.
Other essential oils that have been shown to be effective natural tick repellant include lemon eucalyptus and lavender.