Mosquitos (and all the other nasties like no-see-ums, gnats, etc.) and ticks are some of the worst parts of summer. The presents they bring: bug bites, Lyme disease (and all of its co-infections), alpha-gal syndrome (from the lone star tick, which makes you allergic to red meat), the itching, and so much more are entirely unwanted. They can turn a lovely afternoon picnic into a nightmare.
So how can we prevent these problems?
Thankfully, there are many steps that you can take to help.
When walking in the woods, stay on the trail and avoid high grass areas.
When hiking, tuck your pants into your socks and wear light-colored clothing.
Wear long pants tucked into high socks when doing yard work. Wrap duct tape -- sticky-side out -- around where the pants and socks meet so that crawling ticks get stuck on the tape. It’s insane how many ticks you will see on it.
Here are some great tips from the CDC on what to do when you come indoors.
Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium-temperature water will not kill ticks.
Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.
Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may effectively reduce the risk of other tick-borne diseases. In addition, showering may help wash off unattached ticks, and it is an excellent opportunity to do a tick check.
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full-body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
It’s essential to work to prevent ticks in your yard as well.
Remove leaf litter.
Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
Mow the lawn frequently.
Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents).
Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences.
Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a hiding place.
The Connecticut Agriculture Department put out a guide to integrated pest management with great information on keeping your yard free of ticks. You can check it out here.
If you do get a tick bite, make sure to remove it properly. Here is an excellent video on how to do that:
You should save your tick for testing. Click here to see some labs that can test your tick. You can also contact your local health department or doctor for nearby labs.
Call your doctor if a tick bites you to go over treatment options. In addition, there is an excellent sheet from the CDC on what to do when you find a tick on yourself.
A good tick repellent is probably the most crucial step you can take in preventing tick bites.
The problem is that most of them come with significant downsides. From harsh chemicals and questionable ingredients to many natural ones that don’t work, most of them had more compromises than we were comfortable with.
So what's a better solution?
In our search for a great tick and mosquito repellent, we came up with the following criteria:
It had to be proven to work. So many natural products contain blends of various essential oils, but we could not find any proven to work. Ticks carry serious diseases, so it is vital that it truly works.
It had to be natural. Many products contain questionable ingredients and definitely should not be labeled as natural. Bug spray manufacturers are not required to list all their components, so you will often see labels that say inert ingredients but do not list what they contain.
It had to have an adequate amount of proven ingredients. Many products had some of these ingredients, but they were too low of a concentration to be effective. If a product needs at least 10% of a component to be effective, then products with just a trace amount would not cut it. Unfortunately, it is a widespread practice in natural tick spray products. So, we wanted a product that listed the amounts in the products.
It had to be DEET free.
It had to be tested to show how long it protected against ticks. That way, knowing how often it needed to be applied was easy.
It had to be family-owned. We wanted a company that gave back to the community and wasn't owned by a corporation with many ethical issues.
Our search took us far and wide, with many very frustrating conversations. But thankfully, we finally had success and found a small, family-owned company in Raleigh, North Carolina, Murphy’s Naturals.
They produce a mosquito and tick repellent that meets all of our criteria. It’s powered by regeneratively farmed lemon eucalyptus oil, the only plant-based ingredient recommended by the CDC for tick prevention. It repels mosquitoes for up to six hours, including those that may carry Zika Virus, West Nile Virus, Dengue Virus, and Chikungunya Virus. Third, it provides four hours of protection against Deer Ticks, which may transmit Lyme Disease. Finally, it repels Lone Star Ticks and Brown Dog Ticks for more than eight hours.
It is thirty-percent lemon eucalyptus oil. Far higher than other brands of natural bug spray (hell, most of do not even list the actual amounts). This is what makes it uniquely effective among natural bug repellents. It only has two other ingredients, distilled water and ethanol. That’s it, a truly natural and transparent tick repellent!
The lemon eucalyptus oil (Citriodiol) is supplied by Citrefine International Ltd, a family-run company that harvests it from responsibly-maintained groves of Eucalyptus citriodora trees. Local men and women maintain these trees without any pesticides and herbicides.
It has been proven in multiple trials to be effective against ticks and mosquitoes. Click here to view research, safety, and efficacy studies.
Another benefit is that it smells great, unlike many bug sprays that smell so bad you don’t even want to use them.
So now that we covered ticks let's work on keeping away all those other unwanted guests.
In addition to excellent repellent, many other ways exist to keep them away.
Make sure to drain any standing water you have. These are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos, from buckets to old kiddie pools.
Electric bug zappers "Are ineffective against mosquitoes and other biting flies, and their otherwise indiscriminate killing can disrupt pollination and generally throw the environment out of balance." Therefore, we recommend against their use.
Mosquito-repellent candles and incense can be beneficial in keeping them away. However, many of them have questionable ingredients, like petroleum-based candles with synthetic fragrances, that you probably don’t want to breathe in.
How about some better options?
How about a candle made with beeswax and soybeans containing a citrusy blend of rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, cedarwood, and citronella? It burns for about thirty hours, giving you lots of mosquito-free time!
If candles aren’t your thing, how about some great incense? One that’s made from simple ingredients like rosemary, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, cedarwood, and a sawdust base, with none of the bad stuff found in many incense products like synthetic fragrances. Each stick burns for about two and a half hours!
So you forgot your bug spray, and now you’re covered in bug bites. The itch is slowly driving you insane. What do you do? I’m glad you asked. You don’t have to reach for steroid creams to relieve your itch. First, wash the bug bites several times per day with calamine soap. Then apply this all-natural bite relief soothing balm. Use it throughout the day as needed. It features a blend of natural oils, including Andiroba oil. This fantastic plant helps to soothe and calm bug bites and redness quickly.
You don’t have to choose between natural and effective. However, you do need to take action to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases. Ensure to consistently check for ticks and take measures to prevent getting bit every time you are out in the yard and the woods.
Use code tickspray to save 20% off all bug products!
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to help!
You got this!