Oh man! The ticks are horrible this year. Have you been fighting with ticks like we have? We spent the weekend fencing in 10 acres for our cattle and had to do everything we could to avoid ticks. If not, it was nothing to have a dozen or more ticks on us. The problem in my region is little deer ticks. They are sometimes hard to find on the skin.
Here’s a few things we do to avoid ticks on the homestead:
- Terrashield blend and other essential oil recipes. Terrashield is a natural repellent and a blend of essential oils. This blend already contains coconut oil so it’s safe to apply directly to kids and dogs. We spray this blend on our shoes, pants and arms. We also add a few drops of Geranium or Peppermint essential oil to the Terrashield. We don’t like spraying deet on our kids so we choose this option.
- Letting our chickens free range. Chickens do a great job of eating ticks. In fact, they can eat up to 100 ticks per day. Turkeys, ducks and guinea fowl also do a great job.
- Planting herbs around the homestead like lemongrass, eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, rosemary and wormwood. These plants are natural ticks repellents.
- Keep the grass cut but it’s often hard to avoid high grassy areas on the homestead.
- Wear hats and clothing that covers the skin. Preferably with elastic around the waist and ankles.
- Don’t sit on the ground. Ticks don’t fall from trees or jump on us, instead they do something called “questing.” That is, they climb to the top of a blade of grass or weed and stick their front legs up in the air, just waiting for a victim to brush by that they can grab on too.
- Wear tight braids, pony tails or buns.
- Wear boots or shoes that can be tightened around the ankles.
- Tuck pants into the socks.
- Bathe or shower as soon as we come in.
- Wash our clothes in hot water to kill any ticks lurking on the inside of our pants.
- Conduct a full body tick check. Pay special attention to the hair, waist line and behind the knees.
Deet is recommended by everyone but that doesn’t mean it’s a safe way to avoid ticks. It’s up to us to make informed decisions about our health. Do you agree?
DEET is a registered pesticide. DEET is short for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). It is a member of the toluene chemical family. Toluene is an organic solvent used in rubber and plastic cements and paint removers. DEET is absorbed through the skin and passes into the blood.
The Medical Sciences Bulletin, published by Pharmaceutical Information Associates Ltd. reports, “Up to 56% of DEET applied topically penetrates intact human skin and 17% is absorbed into the bloodstream.” Blood concentrations of about 3 mg per liter have been reported several hours after DEET repellent was applied to skin in the prescribed fashion. DEET is also absorbed by the gut.
The most serious concerns about DEET are its effects on the central nervous system. Dr. Mohammed Abou-Donia of Duke University studied lab animals’ performance of neuro-behavioral tasks requiring muscle coordination. He found that lab animals exposed to the equivalent of average human doses of DEET performed far worse than untreated animals. Abou-Donia also found that combined exposure to DEET and permethrin, a mosquito spray ingredient, can lead to motor deficits and learning and memory dysfunction.
Basic tick knowledge can be obtained at tickinfo.com.
There’s instructions on how to safely remove a tick on cdc.gov or go here. It’s not wise to put peppermint oil, vaseline, finger nail polish or anything else on a tick before extracting it. These practices can aggravate the tick and make it vomit the contents of its stomach into the bite wound, greatly increasing the odds of causing a disease!
Once you have a tick bite, it’s a good practice to clean the area. I use a blend of essential oils called OnGuard with coconut oil on the bite wound to help cleanse and protect. I reapply that several times a day, for the next few days. Here’s a study published on PubMed about the benefits of OnGuard essential oil.
Just typing this is making my skin crawl. I think I’ll go do a tick check. 🙂 Let me know if you have any other suggestions on how you avoid ticks.
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