Recently, I was at the pediatrician and asked our kids’ doctor about the upward trend in Lyme disease. I’ve always been smart to prevent ticks on my own person, but now that I’m in charge of other little bodies, I’m hypersensitive to stories about Lyme disease.
I realized, that as a mom, I already have the upper hand on tick prevention.
In the meantime, we’ve also been making our own small, personal steps to be greener. So I didn’t want to stock up on industrial bug spray if there was a better way. Thankfully, there’s not just one natural way to prevent ticks; there are dozens! And I’m proud to report they have actually worked for us. In fact, after researching and using natural tick prevention methods, I haven’t seen a single tick on any of my family members (including the dog) in over six years.
Here are my top six ways to prevent tick bites naturally:
1. Protective Clothing
Staying indoors all summer is not an option if you want a healthy, active lifestyle. Instead, look to your clothes as your first line of defense against ticks. You may already know this one or think it’s a no-brainer. Regardless, it’s foolproof and a surefire barrier to keep the little buggers in the woods and not on your skin. Before heading out, simply don long-sleeved clothing and tuck pant legs into socks so less skin is exposed. Wear closed-toe shoes, and make sure those socks are thick.
2. Get Smart
Play spy with your family by investigating the life cycle and preferences of ticks. You can hit the local library together to self-educate. Find out why the small arachnids prefer humid weather, how often they feed, and their methods for detecting potential hosts (that’s you). This way, you can know when you’re in an area that’s more likely than others to have hungry ticks nearby. Simply knowing the habits and tendencies of ticks automatically strengthens your confidence in thwarting them.
3. Essential Oil
I attribute our last half-decade of tick-free living to rose geranium essential oil. I heard of the product from another health-conscious blogger and thought I’d give it a try. Since then, my family has started and operated an organic grass-based farm, gone on countless hikes during all the seasons, and spent untold hours in the backyard. I still have not seen a single tick. It has been effective in keeping the bugs away from our dog, too. I simply put a drop on the outside of each child’s shoe once a week and diffuse it on a charm around my own neck when we head out.
4. Tick Checks
According to the Connecticut Agricultural Experimentation Station, your daily habits and rituals can do more to prevent tick bites than anything else. If you get in the habit of checking one another for ticks at the end of every day, the little buggers won’t have much of a chance to bite. Be sure to pay especially close attention to your ears, belly buttons, and scalps.
5. Create a Tick-Unfriendly Backyard
As a family, there are steps you can take to make your yard less attractive for ticks. According to researchers at the University of New Hampshire, drying out is the number one cause of tick mortality—not pesticides, not old age, not squashing, not starvation. That means a dry backyard is less likely to host a family of these tiny arachnids. So mow your yard regularly and move playsets and toys away from dense brush, tall grasses, and woods where moisture accumulates.
6. Bask in the Sunshine
While enjoying your outdoor activities, opt for sun-bathed areas to play or relax in, instead of the deep woods. When in the woods, stay to the middle of the walking trail instead of brushing your pants along the sides of the path along the underbrush. Try this prevention tactic in your own yard as well. Use an umbrella for shade instead of hanging out in the overgrown bushes or near shady woodpiles.
Lyme disease might be the most well-known complication of a tick bite, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists over a dozen other diseases carried by ticks that can be easily prevented with these natural methods. Don’t give ticks a chance to mess with the health of your family. Combine all the above ideas on your next outing, and make a game of it! When your kids have families of their own, they’ll carry on the tradition of disease prevention by way of tick avoidance.
How do you repel or discourage ticks when adventuring outdoors? Tweet your own tips for fellow readers to @TomsofMaine.
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.