Ticks are my arch nemesis on my homestead. The four of us have been bitten several times. Our dogs get them all the time (even with monthly flea and tick medicine). It seems like ticks are multiplying around here, even though we keep up with yard maintenance, debris removal, free-ranging chickens, etc. Read how I help combat ticks on my homestead with homemade Easy DIY Tick Spray.
My husband has lived on this farm his entire life. He talks about how the ticks and tick bites were far and few between when he was a kid- a kid that was constantly outside in the woods and in the fields. He barely remembers getting bitten himself. And thinking back, I grew up about 10 miles from here as the crow flies, I can’t remember ever getting bitten by (or even seeing) a tick. (Makes me really wonder WHY ticks are multiplying so quickly and what can be done on a larger scale to get rid of them). Animals like deer and rodents must be making some pretty dang good hotels for the little reproducing devils.
Why Do Ticks Suck?
The most terrible thing about ticks is that certain ones carry diseases that can be transmitted to you and even to your pets. The two most prevalent diseases ticks carry are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
According to the CDC, “Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.” While “Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a bacterial disease spread through the bite on an infected tick. Most people who get sick with RMSF will have a fever, headache, and rash. RMSF can be deadly if not treated early with the right antibiotic.”
How Do They Spread Disease to Humans?
Ticks, once they leave their deer or rodent hotel, will find their way to another deer or rodent hotel (aka a critter host) or they will find you (aka a human host). This can happen from doing just about ANYTHING outside… sitting in the grass, climbing trees, walking through the yard, frolicking in a field, hiking in the woods, ANYTHING. The ticks will cling to your clothing, crawl to your skin, and then bite, drinking your blood.
As if that weren’t gross enough, there’s a few more thing you should know. 1) Ticks can be so small you don’t even see them on first glance. 2) They love warm, dark, places (gag- because, paired with gross issue number 1, can make them impossible to find). And 3) when you remove them, the head may detach and remain in your skin- transmitting even more disease into your blood stream.!!!
So, WTF Do I Do To Not Get Ticks On Me?
You know how much I despise store bought products that are filled with harmful ingredients. (You need to check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) website and their Healthy Living App. The EWG screens thousands of products for their safety). Most tick sprays fail the EWG’s safety protocol. That’s why I decided to make one myself with essential oils.
Essential oils and I have had a love/hate relationship for a while now. I decided to refrain from using them (which is another blog post for another day), but after finding a second tick on my little girl in just a few weeks’ time, I knew I needed to do something to help repel the little jerks.
A quick little back story…
My 6-year-old was bitten on the head at school. At school!! She got the tick from the playground mulch. Another older girl saw it, removed it, and the tick ended up flushed down the toilet (always save the tick you were bitten with so it can be tested for disease. Place it between clear tape, put it in a plastic baggie, and freeze it until you go to the doctor). Lundynn’s scalp, within a few hours, was bright pink. Within days, a yellow ooze appeared and crusted her scalp where the bite was. Then the pain started. Her neck started to hurt. She was getting headaches,looked sick, and she was super tired. I didn’t like it.
My pap went undiagnosed with Lyme Disease back in 90’s for yearrrssss…. by the time the doctors figured out what was wrong, the disease had taken it’s toll and rendered medication useless. Because my pap had the disease, I am really familiar with the side effects of Lyme. So when Lundynn woke up two days in a row complaining of neck pain (she rarely complains about anything), I knew it was time to head to the doctor.
The physician’s assistant we saw did not like the looks of Lundynn’s scalp and thankfully prescribed a ‘three times per day for two weeks’ dose of amoxicillin. She will go for blood work this summer to determine if she has Lyme Disease or not. If she doesn’t (please pray for her), we will probably repeat the blood work in another 6 months just to be sure (I do not mess around with Lyme Disease after seeing my Pap deteriorate physically and mentally from the disease). Is she does have it, she will be give a month’s worth of amoxicillin (which can be detrimental, too).
Back to the Easy DIY Tick Spray
So, like I was saying, I decided to make my own repelling Tick Spray.
Ingredients & Directions
I used a 4 oz. spray bottle (glass is best) and filled it with distilled water. Then, I added 20 drops of each essential oil: citronella, clary sage, rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, and lavender.
I told you, I wasn’t messing around with ticks. They’ll smell us coming 400 yards away.
Shake well before each use. Spray skin, shoes, clothing, hair, everything. Bathe in it if you have to. Just don’t get it in your eyes.
I use this on my kiddos, too (ages 6 and 8). But please do a small test patch on yourself and/or your child to make sure you are not allergic to any of these oils. Additionally, always use caution when using essential oils, especially if you are on medication, pregnant, and/or breastfeeding. Essential oils can do more harm than good sometimes. Talk to your doctor before using this spray to make sure these essential oils won’t give you any issues.
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Happy Homesteading! (:
P.S. have any thoughts or questions? Tell me all the things in the comments! Also, you can contact us if you’d love to collab!