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Essential Oils for Flea and Tick Control

🎶 Let’s talk about ticks, baby, let’s talk about “ew” and “ee!” 🎶

Ticks are a major concern in some areas. Down here on the bottomland we have some, but not that many and I don’t do anything to try to “prevent” them.

If I were going to do something about it, I’d look to the data I could find on essential oils since of the more natural options, EOs are usually more convenient to work with for things like this. Let’s do that now.

This study looked at 11 EOs for repelling a particular type of tick. It’s $50+ to get the full article, but the summary tells us enough to get started:

“Clove bud, creeping thyme and red thyme essential oils were the most efficient – repelling 83, 82 and 68% of ticks when diluted to 3%, respectively. The mixture of creeping thyme and citronella containing 1.5% of each showed higher repellency (91%) than individual essential oils at the concentration of 3%.”

And this one that specifically highlighted citronella at repelling one of the more common ticks in the US:

Or this one that goes into great detail about tick control and is worth the read on your next beverage break.

“Several studies reported the repellent activity of essential oil. Essential oils of Cupressus funebris [Cypress], Juniperus communis [Juniper], and Juniperus chinensis have an Amblyomma americanum nympha repellency with an EC50 of 0.426, 0.508, and 0.917 mg oil/cm2 filter paper, respectively. However, the essential oils of Cupressus funebris had a repellent effect against Ixodes scapularis with an EC50 of 0.103 mg oil/cm2 filter paper [164]. Wanzala et al. [152] showed that Tagetes minuta [Marigold] essential oil had more repellent activity than that of Tithonia diversifolia [Mexican sunflower] essential oil against Rhipicephalus appendiculatus with a repellent dose at 0.5 probabilities of 0.0021 mg and 0.263 mg, respectively. Likewise, 5% oregano and spearmint essential oils exhibited as natural clothing repellents against Ixodes ricinus comparable to 20% DEET for 24 h [153].”

And then there’s Cedarcide, a mainstream product that uses a high % cedar oil to repel all kinds of creepies.

Putting all of this together, I’d be inclined to mix up my own concoction with glycerine and distilled water as a base if I wanted a spray-on application. I’d spray the spray-on on legs and underbelly at the least and I wouldn’t hesitate to use this on my clothing if I were worried about personal tick prevention.

In order of importance, I’d add citronella, thyme (my EO safety book says there’s no real difference between creeping/wild thyme and red thyme, which is red because of iron inclusions) and one of the trees (juniper, cedar, cypress) at a 1.5% dilution rate for each, though I might add more of cedar since it’s in much higher proportion in Cedarcide or cypress because it is specifically indicated in the study above. Also of note is marigold/calendula.

My own preferred approach would be to mix up the essential oils in a carrier oil and put them in a dropper that I’d drop at base of feet, poll and generously on a collar if my animals were collared.

If they were really bad, I’d also be adding daily garlic to the diet of the animals in the infested area. And putting poultry with them.

What I wouldn’t do is use any of the conventional tick “medications.” Frontline Plus says for humans, “Avoid contact with skin, eyes or clothing.” You will never ever convince me that a product too toxic for me to touch is just fine to put on my animals. Ever.

Or this, on the rise of sick pets using Frontline and Advantage:

And here’s a snippet from Permectrin II:

“CAUTION: May be harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Avoid contact with skin, eyes or clothing…Sensitivities may occur after using ANY pesticide product for pets…
ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS: This pesticide is extremely toxic to fish.”

Goats, dogs and humans have existed for much longer than flea and tick medicine and we will continue long after those medications are gone thanks to the abundance of natural remedies. <3

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