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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ticks...(The Bane of My Outdoor Existance!) and Friends

Not all that many years ago, a stroll through the yard or a hike in the woods didn't require any special preparation.  You could walk out the door and head where ever your wandering spirit led without worrying if you'd bring home a blood sucking, disease carrying insect or maybe 20!  No, not all ticks carry disease but Lyme's disease has become so wide spread that it is a real threat to each outdoor adventure (even a walk to the mail box) here in the North East.
My daughter and I took a little impromptu walk around our property the other day.  When we stopped to examine some plants beginning to grow on the woodland floor, we discovered our pant legs were loaded with ticks!  We came back to the house and checked ourselves for more...sure enough they were clinging to our sweaters and pants, as well as the dog's fur.  We've been making our own insect repellent for a long time but went off without it because we were drawn to the tiny growth of cleavers beginning to cover the hillside.  Too bad we can't just wander into the woods without some sort of protection from these pests.
Anyway, back to our dilemma, I grabbed a bottle of our insect repellent and began spraying my daughter's pant leg.  Now to back up just a bit, we've sprayed before going out and come back with little to no ticks on our clothing but this was the first time we'd tried it after the ticks had hitched a ride.  We watched in amazement as the little creeps reeled back in disgust and actually dropped off our clothes onto the porch floor.  We watched for a long time and they didn't die but crawled around trying to escape.  It may sound morbid but I quite enjoyed it!
All that to say that you can make your own insect repellent with a few simple ingredients or you can purchase a bottle from me.  I call it Bug Away!
A 4 oz. spray bottle is available for $6.50 + $2.50 s&h.  
(if My etsy shop is empty, please email me to purchase a bottle)
Our insect repellent is safe for children and pets.
We've used it directly on our skin in a light spritz but mostly just misting our clothing/hats works well. We've never had any discoloration occur but if you're concerned I'd certainly recommend a fabric spot check first.
Spray the dog's bed or soak their collar in the repellent for natural, effective, lasting protection.

A testimonial ~ our dog has been having a tick problem and we were out of Bug Away! spray.  I've been checking and removing them.  I made another batch of Bug Away! and after removing visible ticks, I sprayed her coat, especially around her head.  All at once I noticed several tiny black ticks crawling on the floor!  I quickly ushered the dog outside (and I say that kindly because it was more like throwing her!)  I wonder how many more were hidden in her dark fur!?  Won't be without it again!

We start with a witchhazel base to which we add an essential oil blend in a 1:10 ratio.
Some folks like to use oils as a base but for obvious reasons I prefer to use less oily options.  Others use alcohol like rubbing alcohol or vodka...I'd use vodka because rubbing alcohol is so drying if you use it on your skin.
Here's a list of essential oils that are known to repel insects.
lavender (what a wonderful all around useful EO!)
tea tree
catnip (great for repelling mosquitoes, too)
Many folks include pennyroyal in this list and it is effective but it's also one of the more toxic EO's and I like to use this spray on my dog and cat.  Since animals may ingest some of this spray while grooming (not to mention what's absorbed through your skin), I don't use pennyroyal EO.
You could also add various herbal tinctures to your base.
Neem oil is well known for it's insect repellent qualities.  You could add a few drops to your spray but I haven't had any experience with it on clothing.

If you have any experience with neem oil in this way or any additional essential oils that you like to use, please comment below.

In addition to the Bug Away, I make a batch of soap that contains some of the oils listed above.  We use this for bathing (the fragrance is very mild) and I also use these bars in my laundry soap recipe.  That gives us a good, all around protection while we're enjoying the outdoors.
For our furry friends, I add some of the essential oils to diatomaceous earth and dust their backs and areas that are harder for them to reach.  We also spritz them with the spray.  If your pet wears a cloth collar, you can also spray the collar liberally with the repellent to make your own flea and tick collar.

We're experimenting with this type of application for ourselves.

If we do manage to have a tick attach itself to either humans or pets, I've shared our removal technique here.

Tick bites and those from mosquitoes, flies and bee stings can be quite uncomfortable, especially to little ones.  I'm offering a product that I call Bite Away! that takes the itch and sting away quickly.
You can purchase a bottle here.

Remember to keep your eye on those tick bites and talk to your doctor about any rash or bulls-eye shaped red pattern.  Also any unusual aches or fever.  Eat foods that will boost your immune system.

I'm sharing this post with Wildcrafting Wednesdays #39

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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics

1 comment:

  1. You know, I read somewhere that this year will be horrible for tick season. I actually covered the subject on my own blog. They said that last year there were a lot of mice breeding. These ticks grew in numbers and stayed on the mice. This year, there are not as many mice but there are still a whole lot of ticks. So now they are on the prowl for a new host (us). Luckily Lyme disease isn't a problem in my area of the country though.


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Preparing small batch natural, additive free products for beauty, health and home right here in our kitchen since 1991 from herbs grown organically in our garden, wild crafted in nearby meadows and woodlands or purchased from reputable, like-minded companies. Dried everlasting wreaths, arrangements and potpourri. Herbal salves, tinctures, soaps, teas and more.