While a tick’s bread and butter are wild animals such as deer and mice, they are opportunists and will gladly take blood from any warm-blooded body that crosses its path. These 8 tips will help you combat tips naturally.
The parents of 2 year-old Kenley Ratliff hope by sharing their story, they can prevent a tick tragedy from befalling another family. While they are unsure where Kenley may have come in contact with a tick, they are awaiting autopsy results to confirmation doctors’ belief that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever may have been the cause for Kenley’s untimely passing.
Kenley had been admitted to the local ER twice, diagnosed with strep throat and was released. However, she returned a third time experiencing a 104 degree fever that wouldn’t break.
On her third admittance, she received antibiotics and doctors recorded symptoms including a brain infection, swollen hands, and rashes spreading over her body.
Media outlets around the country have reported an increase in tick populations across the U.S. This is of particular concern since ticks carry a variety of diseases that can cause a host of serious medical issues, especially if they remain undiagnosed or untreated.
These pesky, blood-sucking insects function mainly by sense of smell. They crawl to the top of a tall plant and wait, front legs waving in the air. These legs are equipped with Haller’s organs, which alert the tick to prey by assessing smell, temperature, and movement. This behavior is called questing. They wait until they smell prey and when they sense blood, they latch on with their front legs and crawl until they find a spot to latch onto and bite.
Awareness of tick habitats and behavior can reduce the risks of becoming bitten.
Natural Approaches to Tick Prevention
Short of staying indoors, this summer, parents should keep tick prevention in the front of their minds. While ticks are common in parks and forests, they are also showing up in regularly-mowed and maintained backyards. While the CDC recommends using a tick repellent that contains at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on skin, some parents opt for more natural options.
Here are 8 great tips to combat ticks naturally.
1. Remove tick habitats in the yard.
Ticks prefer overgrown areas that provide refuge from summer heat. Keep grass short and remove any brush of leaf litter; if you border a woodland area, mulch on your side of the boundary preferably with cedar woodchips.
2. When outside, wear light-weight long sleeves and pants.
This will deter ticks from finding skin areas to latch onto. Additionally, wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot and remove.
3. Remain on trails or paths when in the woods.
Avoid wooded areas with tall grasses or extensive leaf litter. While ticks climb to the height of tall grasses, they can also use their back legs to jump.
4. Use a lint roller.
Roll it over clothes before coming indoors to capture ticks that may be crawling on clothing.
5. Remove clothing and tumble dry.
Tumble dry clothes on high heat at least 10 minutes to kill ticks that may have hitchhiked to your home.
6. Take a daily garlic pill.
Keep garlic pills safely out of reach of pets since garlic can be toxic to cats and dogs. This study found that ingested garlic reduced the incidents of tick bites by 21%.
7. Create a natural tick repellent with essential oils.
Use essential oils like neem, tea tree, and peppermint; dilute appropriately with a carrier oil and apply directly to the skin.
8. Plant tick-repelling plants.
These include lavender, lemongrass, pennyroyal, geranium, sage, eucalyptus, peppermint throughout your property. Bonus: most of these plants also repel mosquitos!
Remember: ticks can range in size and be as small as a pencil point. A full body check should occur anytime a family member has been outside playing or exploring. Check every inch including genital regions, belly buttons, and scalp. While tick checks may seem inconvenient, they just may save a life.