Bug off! Natural Protection from Insects and Ticks

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 12.08.14 AMIt’s tick season again. May-July are the months that are particularly rife with the buggers. And tick seasons are longer and more intense in the Northeast due to the mild winters of the past two years. When mice populations are up – so are the ticks.

Ticks are a threat to both humans and pets. Lyme disease is the most common concern, which can infect both humans and dogs. Although Lyme is very rare in cats, there have been known cases. The deer tick – or blacklegged tick – is the primary carrier of Lyme.

A bullet rash around the bite is the tell-tale indicator that you have been bit (but not always). Symptoms include fever, headache and lethargy. In some cases more serious symptoms can occur like joint pains, paralysis of parts of the face, heart palpitations and memory loss.

Dr. Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist with Connecticut Department of Environmental Sciences, has reported that 38% of the ticks sent in to be tested to his lab in CT are Lyme carriers.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 11.59.18 PMTicks are super-smellers. They detect you coming and will even go out of their way to find you. Masking your scent with a repellent scent is a common sense, protective maneuver. Many rely on DEET for the ultimate protection. While effective, there are risks with using this chemical. DEET, a pesticide, is a member of the toluene chemical family. DEET is absorbed directly through the skin and passes into the bloodstream. DEET is also absorbed by the gut and has been shown to cause motor impairment and memory dysfunction in lab animals.

If you are not comfortable with using harsh chemicals, there are some effective natural remedies given you are diligent with your application routine.


Tick Repelling Herbs List

Cedar Oil

Rose Geranium








Patio & Deck

Cintronella and natural esssential oils are a reliable repellent. Consider a natural BugPellent and/or citronella candles. Both are easily portable to be relocated to your desired space.


Natural Tick Repellent Recipe

20 drops Rose Geranium essential oil

10 drops Sweetgrass OR Cedar oil

5 drops Lavender essential oil

5 drops Citronella OR Lemon essential oil

4 oz Rubbing Alcohol, Witch Hazel, Vodka, Apple Cider Vinegar OR distilled water

Combine all ingredients in a dark glass bottle and shake. Dark bottles are preferable to maintain the efficacy of pure essential oils. Spray clothes and skin. Any of the above essential oils can be added to personal care products to boost your tick & mosquito repellent factor. Find the scents most pleasing to you and apply liberally. There is a chance you may have a reaction to certain essential oils. Diluting them further with a carrier oil, such as almond of safflower, or substituting another essential oil from the above list, will in many cases remedy the problem. Otherwise, keep applications to clothing only.

And for you garlic lovers, a 21% Risk reduction to insect bites has been found when taking Garlic capsules or regular ingestion of fresh garlic.

Protective Habits

FlowerIconTinyUse repellent and wear lighter colored clothing to better discover ticks that attach to you.

FlowerIconTinyShower or bathe directly within two hours of spending time outside

FlowerIconTinyPerform a thorough tick check on the body using a mirror when returning from extended periods out of doors in tick populated areas.

FlowerIconTinyDry clothes on high heat for 10 minutes in dryer to kill any ticks in clothing as an extra precaution.

FlowerIconTinyAvoid tall grass and stick to the center of trails when on nature hikes.

FlowerIconTinyKeep your grass cut regularly.

FlowerIconTinyWear hats when walking in the woods.

FlowerIconTinyTuck pants into socks. Tights or nylons are a great barrier if not too warm to wear under clothing.


Protecting the Pets!

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 11.45.22 PM

Our dogs and cats are an easy target for fleas & ticks. Particularly dogs, who tend to roam beyond the parameters of the immediate home.

Remedies most effective for humans work on animals as well, but there are a few extra measures that can be helpful:

FlowerIconTinyAdding a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar to your pet’s drinking water daily.

FlowerIconTinyAdding a chopped garlic clove to your dog’s meal (1 clove for a medium dog, 2 cloves for a large dog) – no kitties should receive this diet please!

FlowerIconTinyCoconut oil fed directly or mixed with food has shown to repel and even kill ticks due to its Lauric acid content. (1 teaspoon per 20 lbs/twice daily). 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is Lauric acid, which in combination with monolaurin, reduces the infectious abilities of microbes and pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi.

“For pet owners who want a natural approach to tick deterrent we recommend cedarwood oil or lavender oil.”

– Katy Hansen, Director of Marketing & Communications, Animal Care Centers of NYC

I have researched that Texas Cedarwood oil is the safest for pets. The oils can be made into a spray by using a 20 drop essential oil to 4 oz Rubbing Alcohol, Witch Hazel, Vodka, Apple Cider Vinegar or distilled water solution. You may also choose to dilute with a carrier oil and rub/comb directing into pet’s fur as an option.

Safe-Guarding Your Yard

FlowerIconTinyKeep your grass mowed. Ticks love the tall grasses that protect them from direct sunlight and make it easy to hitch a ride on an unsuspecting host.

FlowerIconTinyKeep your yard clear of debris such as dead leaves, sticks, and general yard waste. Piles of leaves, cut grass, and sticks are a perfect hiding place for ticks, as they love cool, moist environments.

FlowerIconTinyIncorporate tick repelling plants wherever possible. Find the best indigenous species for your area. Multiple options are available from the tick repelling herb list above.

FlowerIconTinyCreate a buffer separating wooded areas from your yard (3 ft. wide is recommended). Ticks do notScreen Shot 2017-05-22 at 9.18.07 PM enjoy crossing an aggregated surface such as wood chips or fine gravel. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can also be used in this buffer zone. DE is a completely natural powder made of fossilized remains of tin, aquatic organisms call diatoms. It is lethal to fleas, ticks, bed bugs, cockroaches, and ants because it is razor-sharp on a microscopic level. By passing through DE, the pest’s thin outer membrane (exoskeleton) is removed, which causes their bodies to dry out. DE is not a chemical pesticide, so no worries about acquired resistance. I have personally conquered a flea infestation in my home with a complete dusting of DE. It can be used around the yard liberally. Create a border around wood piles, sprinkle in gardens, and Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 9.10.35 PMapply in areas where mice droppings are detected since mice are a favorite host to both fleas and ticks. DE is completely safe to humans and animals alike. As with any dust, you want to avoid inhaling it. If you feel it will become airborne in the application process, wear a mask. Also be sure to purchase only food-grade DE, not the kind used in swimming pools!


About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. Also visit the Green Design Goods store for my favorite environmentally sustainable products.

2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. lmathews212@gmal.com' Laura Mathews says:

    Great post,! We’re surrounded by woodland and the deer tromp through our yard and gardens on a regular basis. Checking for ticks is part of my garden routine, but miss a few critters every season. Am going to try Rose Geranium oil….

    • Jennifer says:

      Absolutely Laura! Make a spray with essential oils – particularly Geranium + Cedar oils. Also, you can make a Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) barrier around and garden areas. Good luck!

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