We are finally into Spring and the warmer weather seems to be here! Time outside and having the kids outside playing is a welcome change after the long winter we just had. As wonderful as this time of year is, it also means we have to think a bit about protecting our kids and ourselves from ticks. I know, yuck! I hate thinking about this too but unfortunately at this time year, its a necessity. I am sure most everyone reading this will know someone that has been treated for Lyme disease and knows its not a fun thing to go through.
The good news is there are some simple and easy ways to reduce your risk and be outside without worry. I have outlined below my three part plan I started using about 5 years ago after my own family had a scare with a tick bite. This is just my family’s own strategy and its not endorsed by any organization, nor do I have any affiliation with the companies I mention below. I just know since we starting putting this into place, it has greatly reduced the incidence of ticks on my kids and our dog. In fact, our dog Sugar came to our family after we starting using this plan, and as of her last check up, our vet told us she is one of the only dogs they see that shows zero exposure to Lyme bacteria. That to me is evidence enough it is working!
So here is what we do each year, usually by mid May:
1. Use of Tick Tubes: (link to site: click here)
Each Spring and Fall, we lay out these non toxic tubes around the perimeter of our yard. These are basically hollowed out cardboard tubes stuffed with cotton balls soaked in a non toxic substance that stops ticks in their tracks by forming a barrier around the perimeter of your yard. I won’t go into all the details on how and why they work (you can go to the site for all the details and to see lots of photos) but I will tell you tell you its simple and easy to use. It will take you about 30 minutes tops to put this around an average size yard. You literally just throw them out into the woods, under sheds etc. No installation at all. Also, I have noticed some yard maintenance companies will offer this as a service (usually with a mark up) but you can order them directly from the company on the link provided and there is absolutely no need to pay someone to do this. If you can walk along the border of your property, you can do this.
2. Protective Clothing:
Each Spring I stock up on socks, tshirts, and gym shorts from a company called Insect Shield (click here for site). It is again non toxic, does not get absorbed into your skin (unlike DEET based sprays), is endorsed by the Center for Disease Control, and works on mosquitos too! The clothing is sold by mainstream retailers including LL Bean, Orvis, REI, Dick’s, Amazon etc. Just go the website link above to find out more and where you can find it in your area. I have to admit it is getting harder to convince my style conscious teenagers to put this on, but for those days when they are going on a hike or on a bike path through the woods, I usually can win the battle. The fact is they all know kids at this point that have been treated for a tick bite and that gentle reminder seems to be enough to get them to agree. I also stock up on tshirts, shorts, yard socks, and even sun hats for my husband to wear during yard work. The clothing does not scream “I am wearing tick protection clothing!” either as shown below in a photo of a nice pullover I bought last spring:
It doesn’t stop with the kids either! Our dog Sugar has her own wardrobe of protective clothing in the form of stylish bandanas! I tie these loosely around her neck when she goes outside and on walks. Dogs tend to pick up ticks on their necks and ears and considering their instinct to sniff everything in their path, it absolutely helps keep those buggers off! And, I think its a pretty cute look on her too!
3. Organic Yard Sprays:
The last thing we do each spring is to use a perimeter spray around our yard, paying particular attention to areas where the grass meets the woods, under sheds, in brush piles etc. We have used a service to do this in the past (we use one of the organic lawn care companies in our area) and we have also used another more home grown option that uses concentrated garlic oil mixed with water and canola oil. This is a method that is used by many golf courses and again is non toxic and safe for pets. You can google “concentrated garlic oil sprays for tick control” and get lots of choices or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can look up where we ordered it. But be warned on this option: your yard will smell like you are hosting an Italian Fiesta so be prepared for people showing up for a garlic infused dinner!
And that is our 3 part plan! Yes this does cost a bit of money (this whole plan might cost you about $400 depending on how much you spend on clothing) but like all things concerning health and well being, I believe it is money well spent. Avoiding the stress and ordeal of going through a tick bite and the resulting treatments with weeks of antibiotics, not to mention the worry that goes along with it, is worth every cent.
If you have any other tactics you use we would love to hear them! Just contact us and we will add them to the post!