May 3rd, 2018
On The Hunt For A Natural Repellent

Ticked Off

I know that it’s tick season, but they seem extra plentiful this spring—the dogs and horses are covered. This is not solely a rural problem, Central Park has loads of them too. Just this week the C.D.C. announced that the number of people contracting diseases from ticks and mosquitoes is alarmingly on the rise. So I’m starting to think that, like using sunscreen daily, we should be putting on repellent as well. However, the thought of spraying myself with DEET each morning is not appealing. Many swear by rose-geranium oil as a natural alternative and I’m going to give it a whirl.


DIY Blends:

Rose-Geranium Oil. This essential oil was shown to be highly effective at deterring ticks in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Combine equal parts rose-geranium oil and coconut oil, and apply it regularly to your arms, neck, waist, and ankles.

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Some research suggests that a 30% lemon eucalyptus oil preparation can be as effective as DEET in preventing both mosquito and tick bites. To make your own, mix together 30 drops of oil of lemon eucalyptus with 4 ounces of witch hazel (you can also use apple cider vinegar or vodka). Some people also add a teaspoon of vanilla, which may further repel ticks.

Citronella and Eucalyptus. These oils, along with lavender, juniper, oregano, and clove, compare favorably with DEET, but they must be reapplied more frequently than chemical tick repellants. Combine them with equal parts water or alcohol, shake, and apply



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  • This is excellent advice, and thank you for offering these suggestions!

    C.MicholMay 3rd, 2018  8:43 PM

  • This is so interesting. I am awaiting test results from a tick I found on my leg two weeks ago. I will be using all three!

    LisaMay 3rd, 2018  10:51 PM

  • The ticks are rampant on our farm in southern Portugal this year, and we were just having the same conversation about not wanting to spray ourselves with chemicals. Last year, we used a homemade “tea” of water and eucalyptus leaves — but these sound much better! Will give them a shot this weekend. Thanks!

    MaureenMay 4th, 2018  2:10 AM

  • My mom and I were just talking about mosquitoes as she lives in Hawaii and is traveling to Tahiti – even in tropical heat, she wears long sleeves and pants etc on hikes and just sprays her clothes. On our trip to Costa Rica last year, my son broke out in hives after using Off so I am on the hunt as well for a less toxic alternative.

    CharlotteMay 4th, 2018  8:11 AM

  • I heard a discussion about this on NPR yesterday…made me glad I only have an indoor cat now! Thanks for the info…I am concerned about my grandchildren. I’ll pass this on to their parents.

    bisbeeMay 4th, 2018  8:58 AM

  • Thank you for the advice. I use Tick Me Off Maine. High quality ingredients and no preservatives.

    MoiraMay 4th, 2018  9:23 AM

  • I read about the CDC report too, thank you for this excellent post.

    KimMay 4th, 2018  9:27 AM

  • Having been treated for Lyme Disease, the NY Times article has me on high alert. Between spending lots of time in the Adirondacks and Fire Island, I’m trying to remain calm. So your post could not have been more timely. Just ordered the Rose-Geranium Oil you featured.

    MP AllegaertMay 4th, 2018  9:43 AM

  • Thank you for posting on this subject.
    I have been using Nantucket Spider Natural, a Deet-
    Free Tick Repellent. They came out this season with “Extra Strength Tick.” It contains a unique blend of essential oils that repels ticks. I spray it on my shoes, ankles & shins when I walk my dog in the park. I buy it at my local garden nursery. I am going to try the Tick Me Off Maine roll on.

    DinaMay 4th, 2018  11:26 AM

  • I’m ordering the lemon eucalyptus spray. I’ve had many vacations ruined by mosquito bites- I’m very allergic and get huge welts. Will also be using it when I come east this summer. Thanks so much for these options.

    KathyMay 4th, 2018  4:07 PM

  • Erbaviva has all natural bug sprays for adults and children. I was told their sprays do deter ticks as well as other bugs.

    PaulaMay 9th, 2018  1:25 PM

  • What a fantastic article!!! I hope this helps other parents know about and be preventative of ticks and potential Lyme disease. I also found this amazing article which helped me understand this medical condition in detail – Thanks!

    sam stevenNovember 21st, 2018  4:05 AM


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