Ticks usually stay dormant throughout the winter, but awaken in early spring. Exceptions to this are areas with warmer climates, where temperatures never drop below freezing. In these climates, ticks will stay active throughout the winter. Preventing them from attaching to a human host can be done with a variety of commercial products, the most effective being those that contain DEET. There are natural ways of repelling the pests as well.
Garlic has been used as a natural deterrent for ticks for centuries. Though no plant-based repellents have been shown to have as substantial an effect as DEET, a few such as garlic have demonstrated repellent activities against insects. Rather than swallow whole cloves, many people simply take garlic pills before and during a hike in the woods.
Neem oil is found mostly in India and in addition to curing various ailments, has also been found to repel ticks. Neem is a vegetable oil that comes from a type of evergreen tree that is found in India. To use, apply a few droplets of neem oil directly onto skin. Neem can be bought at a health food store or ordered online.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is also said to fight off ticks and other bugs. It can be bought at a local pharmacy or health food store. To use, mix about two ounces of tea tree oil with four ounces of water in a spray bottle.
Wearing the right type of clothing will also prevent ticks from getting on skin. The most important piece of clothing is high top hiking boots that cover the ankle and high socks. This will protect feet and ankles from ticks hiding in fallen leaves (their habitat of choice). Wearing light pants instead of shorts will provide some cover for legs. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt in a lightweight fabric will provide cover to arms and the waist, a favorite spot for ticks because of the human body’s natural warmth in this area.
“Blacklegged Ticks (Deer Tick, Bear Tick) – Tickborne Disease – Minnesota Dept. of Health.” Minnesota Department of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2010. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/dtopics/tickborne/ticks.html.
Cranshaw, W.S., and F.B. Peairs. “Colorado Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases.” Colorado State University Extension. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2010. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05593.html.
“Using Insect and Tick Repellents Safely.” College of Agricultural Sciences. Penn State, n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2010. <pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/uo211.pdf>.
“Insect bites and stings.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2010. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/insect-bites-000095.htm.