As the nights get longer and the sun rises with our morning coffee, I long for warm days outside, feet on the ground and bugs everywhere…..wait….argh I forget about the bugs. And not just any bugs. Ticks to be precise!
I have yet to find out why they share this planet with us. Why they were created to blow up like balloons while drinking our blood and transmit disease while doing so.
Lyme disease is an infection transmitted through infected ticks. After a tick has bitten a deer or rodent, they then can pass that infection onto humans. Lasting symptoms of Lyme disease includes, but are not limited to, arthritis in the joints, cognitive difficulties, chronic fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
Ticks come in many shapes and sizes, but the black legged deer tick is the one that carries the ‘spirochete’ , spiral shaped bacteria, that can cause disease in humans. Why these were created, I ask again? Why?
We have ticks on our mountain here, but far fewer than we had when we lived in town. Saying that, we have had guinea hens and chickens since we moved here 7 years ago. Guineas actively seek out ticks. They must be like caramel popcorn to them, as they cant get enough. We assumed over the years the birds have disturbed the cycle and we have had fewer and fewer.
This year we are getting more guineas and moving them closer to the house to keep them safer from our resident predators, which Calum is not over excited about. (They are a little noisy and love a chrome bumper to peck at.)
Asides from guineas I wanted to give you a list of what we do every spring to prepare for the suckers from the dark ages. Nothing is 100% effective, but I believe if you can do small things that make outdoors more bearable then we are winning in the tick tock fight, right?
Permethrin. Yes it is a toxic chemical, but so is glyphosate, but I’m not advising to eat Permethrin.
Permethrin is a synthetic chemical insecticide that acts like natural extracts of the chrysanthemum flower. (note to self, grow masses of Chrysanthemum flowers for distilling this year!)
Every spring we spray Permethrin on our families boots and coveralls. Permethrin is similar to deet, so please be aware that it is toxic and should not be inhaled. Avoid all contact with the skin and spray in a well ventilated area.
I believe there are issues with Health Canada and the sale of Permethrin for clothes in Canada,but I ordered a spray bottle over 5 years ago from Sawyers (US) and all we do is spray 6 sets of boots or shoes and a coverall each for Calum and I. That is it. Every year I swear this helps with the ticks.
This is where we purchased our cans many moons ago.
Rose Geranium essential oil. Ticks hate Rose Geranium. I found a tick in the house once and decided to see if it was true what they say about Rose Geranium and ticks. So I put a dab of oil on my leg and popped the tick on. (Gross I know, but it was research). The tick backflipped its way OFF my leg and headed for the door. I kid you not!
Ticks live off their sense of smell and the floral geranium scent throws the beasts off our CO2 scent and they don't make the leap from the tall swaying grass. Result!
Add a few drops into your wash and then pop a few drops onto a dryer ball.
I also add a few drops to my shampoo too.
One of my favourite sites for oils in Canada.
Rose Geranium Hydrosol. Spritz this hydrosol on the back of your neck, ankles and wrists. Take a bottle with you on expeditions. Add in essential oils to make it more potent too if you like.
We are growing 100 Rose Geranium plants this year so we can distill more than we ever have done. Until then this is where you can bulk buy hydrosols. https://cocoeco.ca/en/hydrosols/rose-geranium-hydrosol
Tick checks. Every night at this time of year we derobe and tick check. The kids usually get their ‘spring haircut’, ie super short so we can check for ticks easier. A quick check before bed and then again in the morning (because we know those buggers sit and wait) and allow it to become a habit.
So until Nova Scotia releases gazzilions of Guineas into the wilderness to feast upon hard shelled, truly hard to eradicate, bugs, we can do what we can to keep ourselves safe, but also so we can enjoy the mild weather and long days outside.
Feet on the grass is hard to beat, even if you are checking your toes every 5 seconds.