Archive for the ‘Prevention’ Category

What Repels Ticks Naturally?

This article was originally published here but has been updated with new information.


what repels ticks naturally

Ticks patiently hold on to blades of grass and shrubs in a position known as “questing” as they await their next meal or host. “Almost blind, ticks rely on chemosensation to identify and locate hosts for a successful blood meal,” write the authors of “Behavioral responses of Ixodes scapularis tick to natural products: development of novel repellents.”¹


As the number of tick-borne diseases grows and the geographical spread of ticks continues, there is an increasing interest in what repels ticks naturally and which products are effective and safe to use.

Little is known about exactly how ticks detect odors and what smells repel them. “Improving our understanding of tick olfactory mechanisms and odor driven behaviors is key to enabling development of new repellents,” writes Faraone, lead author of the study.

The study examines the effectiveness of natural repellents, particularly plant-based repellents, explains Faraone. “Plant-derived essential oils are natural products that exhibit insecticidal and repellent activities and represent a promising alternative to synthetic repellants.”

Lemongrass essential oil

When researching looked at what repels ticks naturally, the authors found that in behavioral bioassays “lemongrass essential oil and its main chemical constituents (such as geraniol, β-citronellol and citral), as well as PEA [phenethyl alcohol], were significantly repellent to I. scapularis nymphs.”

“The efficacy of lemongrass essential oil was dose-related,” the authors explain. It was “effective in repelling up to 76% of I. scapularis nymphs after 10 minutes when applied at the highest tested concentration.”

The substance was more effective at higher concentrations in repelling ticks. But, the effect declined after 2 hours from the first application to 62.5% compared to a DEET-based product of 87.7%.

The authors did not report on the repellent effects outside the lab. And given that the formulation was proprietary, its ingredients were not disclosed.

However, they found that “PEA- and geraniol-based formulas exerted an effective repellent action representing a valid natural alternative to synthetic repellents already available on the market.”

Oregano, rosemary, spearmint and thyme oils 

In another study, Soutar et al. also addressed the question: what repels ticks naturally? They treated blankets and trousers with either 5% oregano, rosemary, spearmint or thyme oils or 20% DEET. They found, “The number of ticks present on the blankets or trousers differed significantly between treatments.”²

“Significantly fewer ticks” were found on the blankets and trousers treated with spearmint oil and on the blankets treated with oregano oil.

“For ticks that did attach to the trousers, the rate of drop off within 3 min was significantly higher for trousers treated with spearmint oil or thyme oil than ethanol, oregano oil and rosemary oil,” the authors write.

They conclude, “The results suggest that 5% oregano and spearmint oils exhibit potential as natural clothing repellents, with an effective equivalence to 20% DEET.”

Oil of lemon eucalyptus

Investigators used the lone star tick to test the efficacy of 4 commonly used ingredients in repellents:  DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.³  Repellency was tested after 3 and 6 hours.

They found that each repellent “significantly reduced” the number of tick engagements to fabric for at least 6 hours. There was not any significant difference in repellent efficacy between the 4 ingredients after 3 hours of application.

However, after 6 hours, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus repelled ticks more than the other ingredients.


DEET (diethyltoluamide) is not a natural tick repellent but like lemongrass essential oil, the concentration of DEET also impacts its ability to repel ticks, as shown below:

  • 0% of DEET = 8.5% repelled
  • 5% of DEET = 16.6% repelled
  • 10% of DEET = 30.4% repelled
  • 20% of DEET = 68.9% repelled
  • 40% of DEET = 88% repelled

Interestingly, 0% DEET repelled 8.5% of ticks at 10 minutes. This is similar to the placebo effect.

The actual concentration of DEET from the manufacturer is 25% to 30%. The actual concentration on the skin for DEET or the proprietary products was not described in the study.

Most importantly, the study was completed on a paper filter. It remains to be seen how DEET or the natural-based products will work on people.

UPDATED: 5/24/2021

  1. Faraone N, MacPherson S, Hillier NK. Behavioral responses of Ixodes scapularis tick to natural products: development of novel repellents. Exp Appl Acarol. 2019 Sep 28.
  2. Soutar O, Cohen F, Wall R. Essential oils as tick repellents on clothing. Exp Appl Acarol. 2019 Oct;79(2):209-219. doi: 10.1007/s10493-019-00422-z. Epub 2019 Oct 1. PMID: 31578646.
  3. Luker HA, Rodriguez S, Kandel Y, Vulcan J, Hansen IA. A novel Tick Carousel Assay for testing efficacy of repellents on Amblyomma americanum LPeerJ. 2021;9:e11138. Published 2021 Apr 21. doi:10.7717/peerj.11138


For more: 

Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania Weekly Newsletter



The continued advice to sit around and “watch for signs of infection” is not helping patients. ILADS recommends consideration of prophylactic treatment for ALL black legged tick bites with a minimum of 20 days of doxycycline.

It’s also important to remember that Lyme is just the tip of the spear and ticks transmit 19+ pathogens, some of which can be transmitted within minutes. Also, other types of ticks transmit disease as well and need to be considered.

For more:

Removing Ticks: The Right Way & The Wrong Way

Removing ticks: The right way and the wrong way

Removing ticks: The right way and the wrong way

Tick season is here! While most tick bites are harmless, some ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease. Knowing what steps to take following a tick bite can reduce your risk of infection.

Remove the embedded tick as soon as possible. The longer a tick is attached, the higher the risk of transmitting tick-borne illnesses.

Follow these steps:

  • Gently pull the tick out with tweezers by grasping its head as close to the skin as possible.
  • If the head remains, try to remove with a sterile needle.
  • Wash the bite site with soap and water. Rubbing alcohol may be used to disinfect the area.
  • Apply an ice pack to reduce pain.

Avoid the following:

  • Do not grab the tick at the rear of the body
  • Do not twist or jerk tick while pulling it out
  • Do not use alternative methods to remove it; such as fingernail polish, alcohol, petroleum products, or a hot match.

Identify the tick. Take note of the size and color of the tick, whether it was attached to the skin (ticks must bite you to spread their germs), if it was engorged (full of blood) and about how long it was attached. A healthcare provider may ask you these questions if you begin to experience symptoms.

Watch for symptoms. If signs of infection, rash or flu-like symptoms occur within 30 days of the tick bite, seek medical attention.

Remember, a tick that is crawling on you but has not attached to your skin cannot infect you. However, if you find one tick, there could be more. Check your body carefully and use these tips to prevent future bites. Prevention is the best medicine.

If you have questions regarding tick bites or bug bites, contact our 24/7 Nurse Advisor Line at (608) 775-4454.



A few points:

  • The statement “Most tick bites are harmless” is completely false.  Who could possibly estimate this risk?  Another great example of mainstream medicine downplaying a serious problem.
  • While it’s true that the longer a tick is attached, the greater the risk of infection, it must be reiterated that minimum attachment time for transmission has never been determined.  Please treat each and every tick bite as seriously as a heart attack.Research has shown partially fed ticks that drop off transmit diseases much more quickly.
  • Identifying the tick is always smart but a tick is a tick is a tick, and all to my knowledge all have the potential of transmitting disease to you (they exchange fluids with you).  Mainstream medicine is woefully behind the 8-ball on this and doesn’t even consider the multitude of other pathogens transmitted by ticks.  To date there are 19+ pathogens transmitted by ticks. All of them are serious.
  • The statement, “watch for symptoms,” is horrible advice.  This “wait and see” approach has been dooming patients to misery for decades.  ILADS recommends prophylactic treatment for each and every black-legged tick bite.  
  • While the article doesn’t mention getting tested, many don’t understand that testing for tick-borne illness is abysmal, and often gives negative results when people are infected.
  • While some doctors will treat early with doxycycline if you are bitten by a black-legged tick and have the bullseye rash, I’ve had multiple patients report to me they were sent home empty-handed.  My advice is to pound the pavement until you find someone willing to treat you.  Time is of the essence.
  • I can’t emphasize the importance of Lyme literate doctors, who are trained by ILADS and diagnose patients clinically as they understand and appreciate the limits of serology testing.  ILADS recommends:
    • Based on animal studies, ILADS recommends that known blacklegged tick bites be treated with 20 days of doxycycline (barring any contraindications).
    • Given the low success rates in trials treating EM rashes for 20 or fewer days, ILADS recommends: that patients receive 4-6 weeks of doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime. A minimum of 21 days of azithromycin is also acceptable, especially in Europe. All patients should be reassessed at the end of their initial therapy and, when necessary, antibiotic therapy should be extended.
    • ILADS recommends that patients with persistent symptoms and signs of Lyme disease be evaluated for other potential causes before instituting additional antibiotic therapy.
    • ILADS recommends antibiotic retreatment when a chronic Lyme infection is judged to be a possible cause of the ongoing manifestations and the patient has an impaired quality of life.

For more on prevention:

Remember, in Wisconsin, ticks are found in every county in the state. Researchers are also finding them in bright, open, mowed lawns.

How to Co-Exist With Wisconsin’s Ticks

By Denise Thornton

If you plan to be out in the woods or live next to woods, don’t be too quick to trade long pants and long sleeves for shorts and a tee shirt as the weather warms. You need to protect yourself from the ticks that are starting to emerge. Tick bites are possible year-round, but ticks are most active April through September.

Many types of ticks never feed on people. In Wisconsin, the two most common ticks that do are the wood tick, which is not a health concern here, and the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), commonly known as the deer tick, which can transmit several serious diseases including Lyme disease and, more recently, anaplasmosis, which can start with symptoms like fever and nausea and in some cases, progress to organ failure.

Deer tick (left) and Wood tick (right). Photo courtesy of

Wisconsin is Tick Heaven

The Upper Midwest and the northeastern states are hardest hit by Lyme disease, and the numbers in Wisconsin are rising. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin had 3,105 estimated cases in 2018.

Once considered to be a north woods hazard, deer ticks are now found in every county of the state. Deer are an important blood source for adult ticks, and in 2018 overwinter deer densities in the state varied from three to over 60 per square mile. The abundant woodlands interspersed with agriculture throughout much of central and southwestern Wisconsin creates high quality deer habitat.

“There’s been a change in the past 25 years,” says Dr. Susan Paskewitz, chair of the UW-Madison Department of Entomology. Ticks thrive in moist, shady forested environments, and love our increasingly mild winters. “We find them in pine forests, mixed forests and deciduous forests.”

Paskewitz has sampled along the woody edges and out into the yard in neighborhoods in Eau Claire and near Delton.

“Of 90 houses tested, by the end of June, 80 percent of them had at least one deer tick in the area we were sampling. Most were within three to six feet of the woods,” Paskewitz continued, “but a few were found in bright, open, mowed lawn. I don’t think they live long there, but they were making their way out there, so if you are walking out to get your mail without your shoes on, you might pick up that particular tick.”  (See link for article)



They say a picture‘s worth a thousand words.  The picture of this tick in the gum line in the mouth of a dog shows how durable and tenacious ticks are.

A few points for consideration:

  • Migrating birds, rodents, deer, lizards, and human movement are transporting ticks everywhere.  For far too long doctors have been looking at maps to diagnose people.  Trust me, ticks are virtually everywhere and adapt to weather conditions quite easily.
  • If I’ve written this once, I’ve written it 1,000 times – many people never see the tick or the rash and research shows the rash is highly variable – certainly not a sure thing.  
  • For more on tick prevention:  I’m happy to report I saw some controlled burning in ditches as I was driving North today.  This has proven to reduce tick populations significantly.  I wish more of this was happening.
  • Regarding the section on if you find a tick bite: while it’s true that removing the tick as soon as possible is step #1, step #2 is getting prompt treatment as the “wait and see” approach has doomed patients to decades of suffering.  Demand immediate prophylactic treatment for each and every tick bite.  Trust me – whatever mild side effects and inconvenience a month or two’s worth of doxycycline can cause is nothing compared to the pain and suffering of a chronic, relapsing infection.
  • Testing for all tick-borne illnesses is abysmal.  Lyme is just the tip of the spear.  Ticks are literal garbage cans full of numerous pathogens they can transmit in just one bite.  The only infections listed in this article were Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Babesia, when there are 19 and counting infections ticks can transmit.  Research has shown being infected with more than one pathogen causes more severe illness for a longer duration.  It is imperative that treatment includes medications that focus on each pathogen.  For the mounting list of tick-borne pathogens:
    • Babesiosis
    • Bartonellosis
    • Borrelia miyamotoi
    • Bourbon Virus
    • Colorado Tick Fever
    • Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic Fever
    • Ehrlichiosis/Anaplasmosis
    • Heartland Virus
    • Meat Allergy/Alpha Gal
    • Pacific Coast Tick Fever: Richettsia philipii
    • Powassan Encephalitis
    • Q Fever
    • Rickettsia parkeri Richettsiosis
    • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
    • SFTS: Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome
    • STARI: Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness
    • Tickborne meningoencephalitis
    • Tick Paralysis
    • Tularemia
  • While the wood tick and deer tick are the most common ticks in Wisconsin, they are hardly the only ticks we must be concerned about.  Go here for more on the various types of ticks and the diseases they carry. The Lone Star tick has been found in Wisconsin and one allergist in MN states he diagnoses approximately 1 patient per month with Alpha-gal allergy – some patients hailing from WI.  Wisconsin is a hot-spot for Powassan virus, and we recently had our first death due to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It would be a huge mistake to believe you only have to worry about Lyme, Anaplasmosis, and Babesia in Wisconsin.  Nearly every patient I work with also has Bartonella – a tenacious pathogen that isn’t even on most doctors’ radars, and Mycoplasma is very common.
  • Most articles such as these don’t tell you what to do once you’ve become infected. Optimally, you would be prepared before this ever happened by finding the Lyme literate doctors (LLMD) in your state.  The best way to do this is to contact your local Lyme support group. There is also a tab on the right side of this website called, “Find a Lyme Support Group.”  There is also another tab slightly down from that in which you can contact ILADS directly for doctors in your area.  Read this if you don’t know what a LLMD is.  LLMDs are specially trained in tick-borne illness and know how to diagnose patients clinically.  This is crucial because current 2-tiered CDC testing misses anywhere from 70-85% of cases or more.  You truly can not trust testing.  They also know how to treat this complex illness that typically is far more than just Lyme.

May Lyme Awareness Talk, 2021


May 5, 2021

Lyme Awareness Talk

According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average number of Lyme disease cases has more than doubled over the last decade.  In this presentation, Alicia Cashman from the Madison Lyme Support Group discusses tick-born illness, why it’s so difficult to obtain help, symptoms, prevention, and real life experience of patients.  The program was made possible through funding from the Friends of the Oregon Library.

Slide 1: Lyme Disease a 21st Century Pandemic
Slide 2: Why should we care about Lyme disease:
Slide 3: The History of Lyme disease:
Slide 4:  What is Lyme disease?
  • The CDC/NIH/IDSA accepted narrative
  • Reality
Slide 5: Pleomorphism (Lyme shape-shifts)
Slide 6: Video of a spirochetal cluster grown from a sick patient’s blood
Slide 7: Polymicrobialism (There are often other infections involved)
Slide 8:  How is Lyme Transmitted?
  • The CDC accepted narrative
  • Reality
Slide 9:  Congenital Lyme – is real
Slide 10: How is Lyme diagnosed?
Slide 11:  Symptoms of Lyme disease
  • CDC accepted narrative
  • Reality
Slide 12: Lyme disease signs and symptoms explained by Dr. Aucott of Johns Hopkins
  • Patients can jump to stage 3 quickly and bypass the other stages.  I give the example of the little girl who went out to play, got a tick bite above her eye and within 4-6 hours couldn’t walk or talk.
  • Many never see the tick or the rash
  • While the rash is diagnostic for Lyme (if you have the rash, you have Lyme – no testing required), you may still be infected even if you don’t have the rash. Most doctors are uneducated, don’t know what the rash looks like, and mistakenly tell people they got a spider or other bug bite.  The rash can also be irregular:
Slide 13: Why are definitions important?
  • Organism
  • Transmission
  • Treatment
Slide 14:  Tick Prevention
Slide 15: Willy Burgdorfer, the “discoverer” of Lyme
Slide 16: New Treatments for Lyme disease
Please remember that most patients are infected with numerous infections.  Treatment should reflect this as research shows patients fighting numerous infections simultaneously have more severe symptoms for a much longer duration.
Slide 17: Hollywood Stars infected with Lyme