I love the spring, growing up I think it was my second favorite season, summer was the first. It was nice to have warmer temperatures, and no more snow. Things began to bloom, and everyone seemed happier! And I got to spend more time outside, YAY! Since spring is when most of us get back to our yard work, gardening, etc. it seems appropriate that May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. I thought it’d also be appropriate to share what I do to protect myself.
Yesterday I weeded, raked, and cleaned up overgrowth, all day. I was super careful because raking leaves, and trimming undergrowth increased my exposure to ticks. They love hiding out in leaf litter, overgrown grasses, and weeds. This time of year, the nymphs, are hatching. Those little buggers are the size of a poppy-seed, or smaller! They are hard to find, and are so small you rarely feel them crawling, or biting you.
In spite of the extremely hot weather, I wore pants tucked into my socks, I made sure my hair was pulled back, and covered with my garden hat. My shirt was tucked into my pants, I wore gloves, and because my shirt had short sleeves, I applied a homemade essential oil tick repellent. The ticks (and other pests) don’t like the smell of certain essential oils, and the carrier oil makes your skin slippery, making it harder for them to crawl on, or bite you.
When I finished, I came inside and immediately put all my clothes into the dryer, for 15 minutes, on high heat. I did this before I put them in my hamper, or the washing machine. Ticks can survive a wash cycle, even a high temperature one, and washing them first makes it more likely they’ll survive the dryer. The high temperature of the dryer is the best way to kill them, and keep them from showing up in unwanted places.
The next important step, is to take a hot shower, scrub your scalp, skin, and everything else! When you get out, check yourself, especially under your arms, in your ears, and other warm areas, if you know what I mean 🙂 They like to be warm, and will find a nice warm spot to settle in, and feast….GROSS! And having another family member check you for ticks is a great idea too!
Our house now has nice, tall deer fence around the entire orchard, and our lawn area. The deer used to be in our orchard, every night, sleeping, etc. I think deer are beautiful animals, but they are one of the biggest carriers of ticks. I read a notice from the Connecticut Agricultural Department about tick control, and they said keeping deer out can reduce the tick population by 74%! That’s HUGE! They also give landscape recommendations that help deter ticks. They do recommend pesticides as a last resort, I wouldn’t feel comfortable applying them to my yard.
I hope these recommendations will help keep you tick free this spring, and summer!
The Worldwide Lyme Awareness Project began in 2013 to help bring recognition, awareness, and education, to the world. They also hold a worldwide protest each May. There are several events planned in the US, and around the world. If you’d like to learn more click here. I’m bummed I’ll be out of state during this year’s protest, and there isn’t one near where I’m visiting. If you can, get out there, and support us. Even if you don’t have Lyme, or know anyone who does, the Lyme community would appreciate your support!
Want to know more about Lyme Disease? Check out my Lyme Disease Resources page.