Warmer weather brings pest problems. If your specific problem is ticks, then there are a few DIY methods out there that can help. Just as is the case with ants, fleas, or mosquitos, it’s possible for you to mix up a formula that can repel or destroy the notorious tick. And you can do it naturally.
Avoiding harsh chemicals for pest control is ideal when you have pets and children running around. Short of getting some pet chickens or opossums, one of the best options for repelling and killing ticks is to use cedar. You’re probably already familiar with cedar for repelling moths, but the scent drives tick monsters away too.
In the U.S., cedar is produced from several species of trees: Juniper, Cedrus, or Thuja. Several studies on essential oils extracted from Juniper trees and Alaskan cedars document the successful use of cedar treatments to get rid of ticks.
How It Works
Some species of cedar contain a compound called nootkatone, which kills and repels ticks. If there was a movie on how cedar combats ticks, it’d be called “6 Different Ways to Die, Choose One”. There’s death by dehydration, as it dries the bugs out. There’s also death by emulsification, turning bodily fats into liquid.
Suffocation is its own explanation. Cedar also runs interference on pheromone production, thereby slowing down metabolism, feeding, and reproduction. And there’s good old dissolving, in which cedar kills the tick and takes care of all of its life cycles. They don’t even have to eat the stuff for it to have an effect!
How to Use It
In commercial products, the terms cedar and cedarwood are used interchangeably to describe different versions of the oil. As an essential oil, you can apply cedarwood to your clothing before heading outdoors to an area that’s heavily populated with ticks. It will act as a repellent.
For a skin repellent, make a diluted mixture of 1/3 cup of distilled water, 1 tablespoon of witch hazel, and 20 drops of cedar essential oil plus 20 drops of rose geranium essential oil. Pour into a 4-or-8-ounce spray bottle.
An alternative spritz formula that can be used for people or pets is 1 cup of water + 2 cups white vinegar + 10-20 drops cedarwood essential oil. Be careful to avoid spraying around the face or sensitive areas.
In the yard, cedar mulch helps to repel ticks. You can also buy cedar oil online or at home improvement stores to make a yard/garden spray. Use 1 quart of water, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap, 1-2 teaspoons of cedar oil, and 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt. Spray on lawn or affected plants.
As a kill-on-contact bug spray, mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1-2 teaspoons of cedar oil. Spray directly on ticks.
Note: Pregnant or lactating women should avoid using cedar oil and its derivatives unless cleared by their physician.
The CDC states that nearly 30,000 cases of Lyme disease get reported to them annually. This number doesn’t include all diagnoses made in a year, and they estimate the actual number to be closer to 300,000. While you can use tick prevention strategies that contain chemicals, natural alternatives like these can be a good addition to your arsenal.