The kids are out running through the woods building forts with the dog tagging behind them. While this is a fun, serene setting, I just keep thinking about ticks because I know the dreaded tick season is upon us.
Why do we need to think about ticks and mosquitoes? Despite being a nuisance, ticks can carry Lyme’s disease and Rocky mountain spotted fever. Mosquitoes can be the carriers of West Nile Virus and encephalitis here in the United States.
While there are chemical-containing products to repel ticks and mosquitoes, there is some evidence that it is not good for humans and animals. In one study, DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), which is found in many store bought insect repellents, has been shown to be immunosuppresive. DEET is absorbed through the skin and carried to the brain. That is why we use an alternative option for ourselves and our pets. It is safer and studies have shown it has similar effectiveness to that of DEET.
While it is possible to find natural insect repellents to purchase, it is also simple to make your own, using essential oils. Many essential oils have been proven to repel insects. In this study, ticks were repelled using essential oils which were just as effective as DEET.
We like to use a water-based insect repellent so that we can spray our skin and our clothing. It is best to use an amber-colored glass bottle so our repellent is not exposed to constant light. Start with a 16 oz glass bottle and add the following:
10 oz witch hazel
15 drops of geranium essential oil
3 drops lemon essential oil
3 drops citronella essential oil
2 ounces apple cider vinegar
Mix together and spray. Keep spray out of direct sunlight and heat, re-apply as needed.
It is possible to make insect repellents using other oils other than the ones listed above. Essential oils we have used in the past include oregano, lavender, tea tree, thyme, clove, lemongrass, and ylang ylang. Here is a great article on using essential oils in mosquito repellent. Happy mixing and chemical-free living!