Thursday, May 01, 2008

Recipe for natural flea and tick repellant

I've seen many recipes touted for fleas, but the woman who shared this with me actually had a tick infestation that year and found this to be very effective against them!

Use 2 to 3 drops of each oil in 16 0z. water, OR 1/2 teaspoon of each oil in
a gallon of water.

tea tree oil, rosemary, sage (there are a few different types - it doesn't
matter which you choose), cedarwood, peppermint, sweet orange, eucalyptus,
citronella and pine needle.

It can be pricey to get the oils, but once you have them, they last a good
long time.


Recipe modified by Madalyn (two oils intentionally left out because they don't mix well with what is already there, although they are effective repellants in their own right:

peppermint - 3 drops
sweet orange - 1 drop
sage - 1 drop
citronella - 4 drops
lavender - 1 drop
eucalyptus - 1 drop

According the the "Dirt Doctor" in Dallas (organic gardening guru) here is a natural mosquito repellent that works pretty well. I have used it and had few bites - but you have to PUT IT ON for it to work ;-). And it SMELLS GREAT!

Vanilla home remedy for personal use:
8 oz water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp. orange oil
Spray on liberally.



More info:
With so many people (and dogs) getting lyme disease, I got curious if there are any safe ways of repelling ticks. I don't know how well these work, but here are some ideas I found after a few minutes of quality time with Google.

I can't personally vouch for any of these approaches, but I had previously never heard of any methods of coping with ticks whatsoever, other than "cut down all the vegetation for miles around," "spray the hell out of everything" and "stay indoors or in wide open expanses of pavement at all times, and if you venture off the pavement for five seconds cover yourself from head to toe in thick clothing taped shut at every seam." So, at least this is a start of some other ways of thinking.

Some of these come from people trying to sell a product, and again I don't endorse any of these ideas as necessarily effective or environmentally sound. But I wanted to see what if anything was out there and this is a sample of what I discovered, as a jumping off point for anyone else who might be interested in doing some further experimenting or research.
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From :

a.. A... good repellent that also worked on our dogs, is to eat garlic pills (but don't give garlic to cats). A number of people have written me to say that they have had good luck with their dogs and themselves, by keeping to the garlic pill eating regimen every day.
a.. The Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) reported in their winter of 1996 Journal of Pesticide Reform that nymphal ticks are reduced from 72.7 to 100 percent when dead leaves are removed from the forest areas surrounding residential areas.
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....ticks could be in the house-especially if the previous owners had dogs. Most cats "catch" ticks before they can latch on while they're grooming themselves (the cats, not the ticks). But dogs don't give themselves a tongue bath every hour. And when an engorged female tick drops off undetected, she can give birth to a huge number of 'babies' who can live a long time-sometimes years-in between meals.

Easiest way to check would be to set carbon dioxide traps. Get a big load of dry ice (handle it carefully, with big thick gloves) and put some in the center of each room, surrounded by big circles of sticky tape. Nearby ticks will head towards the CO2 and get caught on the tape. If the tapes are free of ticks the next day, the house is likely clean.

That leaves the great outdoors. Most ticks climb to the top of tall blades of grass or brush-generally a foot or more off the ground-wait for a red-blooded creature to pass by and then hop on. (So keep your brush cut; it keeps the suckers further away.)

Garlic based sprays, like Victor's "Mosquito Barrier" DO keep skeeters away from the sprayed area for two weeks, and might work on ticks. The only way to find out would be to spray a known tick-infested spot, wait a few days and then set some dry ice traps or use a tick drag to see if they've left the area. ('Tick drags' aren't parties where arachnids dress up like Barbara Streisand; they're big sheets of flannel that are dragged through the brush by researchers, who then count the number of ticks on the cloth.) Oh, and the sprays do have a strong garlic scent when you first use them, but the smell dissipates-at least to our noses-within a few hours.

...having a flock of fowl like guinea hens-the most excellent consumers of ticks-running loose on your property....

journal The IPM Practitioner, our old buddy Dr. Bill Quarles reported on the hot new trend of using naturally-occurring fungi to control insects AND those nasty members of the arachnid family, ticks. Bill explained that a strain (designated 'F52') of a green-colored fungus named Metarhizium anisopliae ("Meta-rise- e-um Ana-sof-a-Lee" )-discovered way back in 1879 in a cereal beetle that the fungus had sent to its eternal reward-has been shown to be toxic to ticks as well as many other pests. Both it and a closely related species are already being used to control locusts in Africa, termites in the US (under the brand name "Bioblast"), and greenhouse pests worldwide. And it's already EPA registered for use on ticks.

Earth Bio Sciences, a company based in New Haven, is developing both a spray and granular form for commercial use. I spoke with company president Tom Corell last week, and he confirmed that some field tests on the product, called "Tick-Ex", have already been completed, more are underway, and he hopes that the fungus might be available on a limited basis in some areas as early as next Spring!

The EPA's official "environmental risk assessment" found the fungus safe for humans to touch, ingest and inhale; and to have no detrimental effect on birds, mammals, fish, plants, or earthworms-not even bees and beneficial insects! And like I said, its already in use against other pests; we're pretty much just waiting for a few more studies to be finished and a distribution system to be put in place.

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Garlic treatment for yards, alleged to kill mosquito and tick larvae
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A few posters at various forum type places said that oil (of any kind, including soy or olive) smothers ticks. The speculation was that it could be tried as a spray to kill larvae, applied a few times a season to yards or other frequently traveled areas. Also suggested as an idea for people and pets who may have been exposed and want to kill any on their body, though one person wondered if a tick that had already bitten you would just stay latched on forever, further infecting you, if it got smothered while already on your skin. I also worry that a broadbased oil smothering campaign could kill beneficials in the yard, but I haven't looked into the details.

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Diotomaceous Earth was suggested in numerous places, as effective against both fleas and ticks. You can get food grade and sprinkle it around the house or the yard. Some people even feed it to their pets (or eat it themselves) to kill internal parasites.
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Beneficial nematodes spread in the yard to control flea larvae? No one says it would work for ticks but many of the articles I found in my tick search also talked about fleas.
Steve Tvedten has numerous free publications on line in which he describes less toxic pest control methods (including for termites and lice) but I got tired by the tie I got this far, and so I don't know if he has a response to ticks. It would be very interesting to find out if he does.

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