Spring is nearly upon us which is always exciting and is one of my favorite times of the year. It starts getting warmer and everything starts to bloom. I love seeing the first flowers that pop out of the ground, new buds on trees, and new bits of green popping up everywhere.
Unfortunately spring is also a time when deer ticks start to emerge and are looking to feed. Ticks are in their nymph stage and can be very hard to see and are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Ticks get on you, your child, or your pet by hitching a ride. They climb up grass, plants, or trees and stick their legs out waiting for something to pass by. Their legs can actually smell their victims and when they get a whiff they grab on.
Spending time in nature is a great way to reduce stress, increase immunity, increase happiness, and increase your sense of well-being. That being said ticks live in nature. I don’t think the answer is to stay indoors and avoid spending time outside for fear for ticks.
That being said you have to be smart about it. If you go for a hike stick to the center of the trail and avoid tall grass and leaf litter. Be sure to put on some insect repellent as well.
I’ve heard a lot of people recommend DEET to repel ticks and other insects. Based on the research that I’ve read I do not recommend using it and I steer clear of it myself. DEET can have some pretty serious health effects.
Duke University Medical Center has spent 30 years researching the effects of DEET and found that it impairs cellular function in parts of the brain and can lead to neuronal cell death. DEET has also been shown to cause mucus membrane irritation, nausea, burning lips, and rashes. I don’t think it’s wise to trade one cause of symptoms for another.
Fortunately we have some safer alternatives to keep the ticks away.
Remember I told you that ticks smell with their legs? Lucky for us there are a number of essential oils that ticks hate that smell quite pleasing to most of us humans. These include cinnamon leaf oil, rose geranium oil, cedar wood oil, lavender oil, and lemongrass oil.
Rose geranium essential oil seems to be the best and in particular you want one made with, Pelargonium capitatum xradens. You can either put a few drops on your ankles, wrists, and back of your neck or you can make a spray and give yourself a good misting.
To make a spray combine a cup of water, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, 10 drops of rose geranium or one of the other essential oils mentioned in a spray bottle. Give it some good shakes and spray yourself, your kids, and your dog. Be careful with cats since some essential oils can bother them.
To protect your yard and outdoor living areas you have a few options. First keep your grass cut short and rake up any dead leaves. You can spread diatomaceous earth (DE) in your grass using a spreader. DE kills insects and is harmless to humans and animals. Just be careful not to breathe in the dust because that can harm your lungs so where a mask when you spread it.
You can also plant some rosemary, lavender, chamomile, or catnip around your yard. These plants repel ticks and fleas and are safe for children and pets.
Enjoy the spring and spend some time in nature. Just be sure to take extra precaution and search for any ticks that may have gotten through your defenses. I just take a shower after a hike and inspect my whole body for anything that doesn’t belong.
P.S. Do you have any natural remedies of your own that you use to repel ticks and other nasty insects? Please tell us about it!