Last spring I wrote about repelling ticks naturally. These days people who garden, hike, swim, fish or hunt are more thoughtful of protecting themselves from the Lyme Disease epidemic as more and more people are affected. So, this spring I’d mentioned my natural protection tricks, which at the time included essential oils, carefully chosen clothing (boots and leggings) and reluctantly, Permrethrin. I hate to use it, but my garden design work often brings me to ecological riparian zones, where repelling ticks naturally or otherwise is mandatory. This season I’ve gotten even more creative. The above photo showcases two different varieties of pungent garlic extract pills. I typically consume six capsules of garlic extract every day. So, understand this is anecdotal. And it’s difficult to gauge the ticks response to a garlic-soaked human; I’m not convinced that ticks’ sense of smell is as potent as their tactile senses. But I can say with assertiveness that all this garlic has made me specifically unattractive to the local mosquito population. If I am with a group of people, the mosquitoes bite everyone else more aggressively than me, and this was not the case before my daily regimen included garlic bombing.
After being bitten by a tick again this past May, I became determined to be more thoughtful about any single factor that may be creating a vulnerability. Our culture’s beauty standard has always seemed borderline fascist to me. It dawned on me sometime late spring that all the chemicals in a lot of the beauty products I used, shampoos, shower gels, conditioners, face cleansers and moisturizers were usually scented, and even if I’d purchased an “unscented” variety, who knows what impression the chemicals make on the insects? After 8 or 9 years in this industry, I knew better than to wear perfume or scented lotions when outside working. But this year it occured to me that I could actually make the products I use work for me, instead of causing me aggrevation and extra bug bites. In the same vein as using the right essential oils in place of deodorants and perfume, it is possible to carefully purchase every single item that touches my skin or hair that’s made with bug repelling essential oils. Above is pictured a castille soap made with eucalyptus oil. This is all I use for soap now. I have shampoo and a face wash made with stinky Neem oil. I have read and heard anecdotally that “lavender” is repellent to ticks and mosquitoes but this has not been my experience. If I wear essential lavender oil or a lotion with it in it, I find myself with more bug bites at the end of the day. The most effective choices, in my experience, are Cedar, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Neem, Garlic and Lemongrass oils.