Protecting Yourself From Ticks While out in nature
There’s a recent threat to our health that has me taking precautions when my family or dog goes outside. That threat is lyme disease carrying ticks. Over the last few years, I’ve been hearing more and more about lyme disease and how the migration of ticks from down south has been spreading in Canada, in particular in the Outaouais area. The scary part is that 30% of ticks tested positive for lyme disease in the Ottawa area. Thus, I wanted to write a blog post about protecting yourself from ticks while out in nature.
My family and myself live out in the country, surrounded by farmland and lots of trees and long grass. This is precisely what ticks love. They hang out on low hanging trees as well as tall grass waiting for a person or animal to brush by, so that they can get on them and suck their blood.
What is Lyme Disease?
Perhaps you don’t know what lyme disease is. According to the CDC, “Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Up to 20 percent of Lyme disease cases can cause lasting symptoms, including arthritis in the joints, cognitive difficulties, chronic fatigue, and sleep disturbances, even after antibiotic treatment, according to the CDC. This condition is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS).”
How to still be in nature and be safe from ticks
I absolutely love shooting in fields. It’s what is mostly in my portfolios. It’s my niche. Thus, I can’t give up on it because of some horrible little pests. Thus, I searched the internet to find what I could do in order to avoid getting bitten by ticks. I found a recipe from Primally Inspired’s homemade tick spray recipe. At the time she made the video seen in the blog post, Kelly had been using it for three years without getting one single tick on herself or her dog. That’s AMAZING, compared to the fact that she used to have to pull off at least 3-4 ticks from her dog each day after their daily walks.
Here’s the recipe Kelly uses and what I now use for myself, my child and our dog when we go outside:
Pet-Safe Homemade Natural Tick Repellent Recipe
- 1 tablespoon vodka or witch hazel (I use the latter)
- 40 drops Rose Geranium Essential Oil (The brand I use is Eden’s Garden)
- ⅓ cup distilled water
The witch hazel and distilled water can be purchased at either a drug store or at a large grocery store that has a pharmacy section, like Loblaws, SuperStore, etc. I purchased a 100 mL dark brown glass bottle from my local health food store. However, you’ll probably have to order your rose geranium online because all of the health food stores that I went to in Ottawa don’t carry it. The ones that I went to carry Geranium essential oil.
BEWARE: Geranium Essential Oil is Not the Same as Rose Essential Oil
When I asked Rainbow Foods if they had it, I was told that Geranium essential oil is the same thing. I reluctantly purchased it. However, once I returned home, I researched a bit online. I found out that it’s not 100% the same as Rose Geranium essential oil. The Rose Geranium has the rose sent, which is what is needed to ward of ticks. Call me crazy, but if I’m using this to keep ticks off myself and my loved ones, I want to be 100% sure that this is actually going to work the way it’s supposed to. Thus, I returned the Geranium Essential oil and ended up purchasing the Rose Geranium essential oil from Eden’s Garden, which shipped from Montreal. I got it in about a week after purchasing online. You can find Rose Geranium essential oil on Amazon.ca. Just make sure that it’s 100% pure.
Next, I’m not sure if this second recipe is pet safe, like the Rose Geranium recipe. However, it’s another natural tick repellent recipe created by one of the top lyme disease experts in Ontario, Dr. Marie Matheson of Ottawa, ON. This natural insect repellent wards off ticks, mosquitoes, and sand flies. According to her blog post, the bergamot specifically targets ticks and the sesame oil targets sand flies.
All Natural Insect Repellent Recipe
- 30 drops Solvarome essential oil blend (can be purchased at Dr. Marie’s office in Ottawa @ BioHeal Ottawa)
- 10 drops Bergamot essential oil
- 2 tablespoons unroasted sesame oil
- Top up the rest of the bottle with water (you need a 100 mL spray bottle)
- Optional: citronella essential oil
Click on the link to read Dr. Marie’s blog post on how to make the natural insect repellent.
You can never be too safe
This summer was my first time making and using this natural tick repellent. My dog gets sprayed every day with this spray. I spray a bit on his back just above the tail as well as on the back of his neck. In addition, I spray myself and my daughter on our legs, arms and hair. The reason why I spray our hair is because when my daughter was about 1.5 years old, we went walking outside on our property. We were only outside for less than five minutes when she fell in some tall grass. About a minute later I took off her hat to find two ticks on her head. Of course, I pulled them off immediately. So, that has me wary of ticks getting into our hair.
I have also been bringing it to my photo shoots for my clients to use before we trudge into the fields for their photo shoot. Afterwards, I make sure that everyone, including myself checks their legs, clothes and arms for any ticks. So far, no ticks on anyone, so I really think this tick repellent is working!
Please know that ticks don’t just hang out in the long grass and low lying trees. You’ll also find them in short cut grass and fallen leaves. The Ottawa area has a fairly high tick population with 20% lyme rate in the ticks tested in this area. Everyone should be doing their utmost to protect themselves and their families from getting bitten by ticks. That’s why I wrote this article.
For more infomation, you can view the pdf from the Public Health Ontario website. It states, “Despite these estimated risk areas, it is important to note that blacklegged ticks feed on and are transported by migratory birds, meaning there is a possibility of encountering an infective blacklegged
tick almost anywhere in Ontario.”
Here’s an idea I’ve seen all over the internet as a secondary precaution. When I take my dog out (even if it’s just to go to the bathroom), I run a lint roller along his back, legs and stomach to make sure that no ticks have attached themselves to his fur. So far, it’s always tick free. Yay! Since ticks can crawl until the fur in order to get to the skin, using a lint roller as your only fight against ticks is not 100% effective. Hence, the tick repellent. Use it folks. It could save your lives. By the way, if you do actually get bitten by a tick, apparently, there’s a correct way to remove them to make sure that you get everything, including the head. Since this blog post is already super long, my advice to you is to find out now how to remove a rick just in case one bites you or a loved on. Good luck everyone. Have a safe summer and fall. Peace out. Linda 🙂