How to Overcome Your Fear of Ticks and Lyme and Get Outside Again
How to Overcome Your Fear of Ticks and Get Outside Again
- 1 How to Overcome Your Fear of Ticks and Get Outside Again
- 2 My Tips for Getting Back Into Nature
- 3 What Attracts Ticks to Humans?
- 4 What attracts ticks to yards?
- 5 What attracts ticks to homes?
- 6 What color are ticks attracted to?
- 7 Carbon-dioxide attracts ticks
- 8 Ticks don’t bite me!
- 9 Should you squash a tick?
- 10 Five Freaky Facts About Ticks
- 11 Daredevil-like Behavior
- 12 Tick Super Glue
- 13 Surviving the Hard Times
- 14 How much of a smartypants are you?
- 15 Ticks You Might Meet
- 16 Wreaking Havoc
- 17 Works Cited
- 18 Questions & Answers
- 19 Related
- 20 Popular
- 21 Comments
- 22 21 Plants That Repel Ticks: Fresh Smells We Love & Ticks Hate!
- 23 What Plants Repel Ticks?
- 24 Plants Ticks Hate & We Love
- 25 Plants That Deter Ticks & Their Diseases
- 26 Plants That Keep Ticks Away Smell Great
by Dr. Bill Rawls
I have a confession.
I walk in the woods with bare legs — sometimes without protection.
Considering that my life was totally disrupted by chronic Lyme disease for more than ten years, this may seem rather cavalier. Yet, I haven’t had any tick bites since my recovery. I’ve had ticks on me, but I haven’t been bitten.
It’s a matter of where I go, how I go, when I go, and what I do before and after I go, that minimizes the risk.
For many years, my aversion to ticks kept me removed from nature. But in the end, my love of the outdoors prevailed. Being in nature is where I’ve always gained strength. I had to find my way back.
My first foray back into nature was the beach at a state park near my home. Long walks were perfect for generating endorphins, and the sea air did me good. As my strength improved, I needed more of a challenge, so I began venturing onto the trails that wove through the tall grasses of the sand dunes and maritime forests of the park.
Being keenly aware that ticks were prevalent in the thick brush surrounding the trails, I went fully clad in heavy clothing and doused with chemicals. Heavy clothing, however, was uncomfortable, especially in warmer months, and DEET lit my skin on fire and caused me to feel terrible.
Eventually, I was back to shorts and sandals for all my hikes. I found that I could see and feel ticks on my skin much better than I could see them on clothing (even small nymph ticks). In addition, I always wore light-colored clothing that would show ticks.
I developed a habit of periodically inspecting my body, especially torso and legs, for unwanted intruders. I was especially vigilant if any branches or brush touched my body. I never sat down on the ground or in the grass. After a hike, I immediately took a thorough shower or jumped into the ocean.
Hiking is now a regular part of my life again. I’ve hiked trails throughout North Carolina and beyond. I’ve taken three summer vacations to Maine, often considered Lyme central, without getting a tick bite. I’ve even been blackberry and blueberry picking, which is one of the most “ticky” things you can do, without being bitten.
My Tips for Getting Back Into Nature
People often get bitten by ticks because they enjoy being in nature — ticks and the microbes they carry are part of nature’s cycle. Fear of ticks, however, shouldn’t keep you from enjoying a deep connection with nature.
Enjoying nature without being harmed by it is a simple matter of recognizing the risk and taking steps to minimize it. Ease back in at a level that’s comfortable.
Here are the personal guidelines I follow to stay safe:
Extreme vigilance is essential. Not only are regular inspections important when hiking or doing outdoor activities, but developing a hyperacute sense of touch can be your best protection. This is almost like a sixth sense.
Reconnecting with nature became an essential part of my recovery, as much for my mental health as my physical health. I felt lost without it. Natural spaces have a healing quality that is hard to describe.
If you’ve ever had a deep connection to nature, you likely feel the same way. Fear of ticks shouldn’t keep you from the things you love. You can go back in the woods again. But when you go, go wisely. Take time to develop your “tick sense,” so ticks are no longer an obstacle.
Want to share your tips for overcoming your fear of ticks and getting back to nature? Continue the conversation on Facebook…
Dr. Rawls is a physician who overcame Lyme disease through natural herbal therapy. You can learn more about Lyme disease in Dr. Rawls’ new best selling book, Unlocking Lyme.
You can also learn about Dr. Rawls’ personal journey in overcoming Lyme disease and fibromyalgia in his popular blog post, My Chronic Lyme Journey.
What Attracts Ticks to Humans?
Second to mosquitoes, ticks are the most harmful pests to humans. Thanks to changes in our farming practices and climate, ticks are coming closer to human residences.Ticks are known for transmitting many deadly diseases including tick fever or Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Fever, ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. So if you think ticks do not hide inside the house or “they don’t bite me”, think again. No one is safe from ticks and you must take all kinds of precautions to prevent tick bites, especially if you are living in an infested area.
What attracts ticks to yards?
Ticks love to hide in tall grass. So if you have been a lazy homeowner having grass blades measuring more than 3 inches, then you have created thousands of hiding places for ticks. Add to this some clutter like rotting wood and wood chips, swing-sets, old furniture, toys and broken bikes under the deck and you are also likely inviting tick hosts such as rodents, possums and other wild life. These animals are infested with ticks and they drop tick larvae and eggs wherever they nest. So remember, if you want a tick-free yard, you must fastidiously mow and trim your yard. You will also want to minimize clutter by removing items you no longer use.This way, ticks will not have a place to hide outside your home.
What attracts ticks to homes?
Most pet owners will have ticks lying dormant inside their homes. Tick season usually begins as soon as the weather turns warmer. But that does not mean that you and your pets are safe from ticks in winters. Ticks lie dormant in the cooler months and upon finding a host, complete their blood meals to proceed through various life cycle stages. Ticks are known to hide inside cracks and crevices found in floors and on furniture. Your pets can also bring ticks home and drop the larvae and eggs under the furniture, in carpets and rugs as well as your beds. You could unknowingly bring ticks into your home after you have come back from a hike in the woods.
What color are ticks attracted to?
According to Dr. Tracy Zivin Tutela of New Jersey, ticks are attracted to light colors. She therefore instructs hikers and campers to wear dark colored clothes when going on kikes along infested trails. Dr. Zivin Tutela also cautions people to wear long sleeved shorts and full pants tucked inside socks. If possible, repel ticks by spraying your shoes and clothes with permethrin based repellents. You need to spray these insecticides every 2 hours as their effect wears off.
Carbon-dioxide attracts ticks
Almost all bugs including bed bugs, ticks and fleas search for potential hosts by sniffing out carbon dioxide. Human and animals all give out carbon dioxide while exhaling and especially while sleeping.Ticks reach out to potential hosts by tracking the carbon dioxide levels and heat radiated by them.
Ticks don’t bite me!
This one is a myth! Ticks usually seek out all kinds of mammals for their blood meals. In absence of pets they will bite humans. When a tick bites human skin, it injects certain enzymes through its saliva into the skin. This enzyme helps prevent the blood from coagulating , which helps the tick suck out the blood with ease. Some individuals are highly sensitive to this saliva and the body secretes histamines to counter the proteins in the tick saliva. The histamine leads to swelling, blisters and redness. However, many people are not sensitive to saliva proteins and may not develop allergic reaction. So although they are getting bit, they might think ticks do not bite them. This proves one thing: no one is safe from ticks and everyone should use tick protection especially when living in infested areas.
Should you squash a tick?
If you find a tick embedded in your skin (or your pet’s skin), do not use your hands to pull it out. Instead use a pair of tweezers or forceps to gently remove them from the skin. Whatever you do, do not crush or squash the tick as its infected blood might enter a tiny cut on your skin causing various complications. If you have an engorged tick which you have safely removed, it is best to bag it and label it with the date and area you found it. This can help your local hospital staff identify the tick species. Watch out for signs and symptoms of tick fever which could occur anywhere within 3-10 days after the tick has bitten you. Seek immediate medical help if you experience symptoms like dizziness, fever, unexplained fatigue, joint ache, skin rash, nausea, headache and/or vomiting.
Ticks are not picky at all. They will attach to any host, including amphibians, for their blood meal. This makes ticks very dangerous. So if you are living in an infested area, make sure you take all kinds of precautions to prevent tick bites.
Five Freaky Facts About Ticks
Jill likes cooking, writing, painting, & stewardship, and studies gardening through MD Master Gardener & Master Naturalist programs.
If you’ve ever owned a dog, worked in the yard, taken a walk through the woods or gone camping, you’ve probably encountered at least one tick during the course of your lifetime.
And you probably know at least a few facts about ticks—that they’re blood-suckers; that they feed on mammals, including humans; and that they sometimes carry Lyme Disease.
But did you also know that ticks belong to the same predatory group of insects as spiders? That’s right! Ticks are arachnids.
Like mites and centipedes, they belong to the Arachnida class of the phylum Arthropoda. In their adult and nymph stages of development, ticks have four pairs of legs, as all arachnids do (Malinoski 102; «Ticks»).
But there’s more to ticks than creepy family connections, a thirst for blood and an unpleasant relationship with debilitating illness. In some ways ticks are practically superheroes of the insect world (evil superheroes, that is) with a thirst for adventure and some, well . pretty amazing super-tick powers.
Ticks often inject their hosts with nerve poison.
If you’ve ever been bitten by a tick but didn’t feel it, it’s not because you’re insensitive (no matter what your significant other says).
The fact is that sometimes ticks inject anaesthetic into their host’s bloodstream, a sort of nerve poison that contains neurotoxins.
Although some people have an allergic reaction to the toxin, for most of us, it acts as a very local anaesthetic, preventing us from feeling the bite—and the subsequent bloodsucking (Davis and Stoppler).
Adult hard-shelled ticks find hosts through a process called questing.
If they weren’t bloodsucking pests, ticks would seem (almost) noble in the way that they go about finding hosts.
Although they can’t hop, fly or run, ticks do have two abilities, for want of a better word: crawling and dropping. And they use these dubious «skills» to their greatest advantage in order to fill their little bellies with blood.
First they crawl up plants, usually grasses and shrubs, until they reach dizzying heights—at least from a tick’s perspective. Then they crawl to even more precarious territory, positioning themselves on the tips of grass blades, the extreme edges of branches, the outermost ends of leaves.
What prompts ticks next is anybody’s guess. Is it courage? Bloodlust? Carelessness? I like to think it’s a sense of adventure, but perhaps it’s merely instinct that causes them to fling themselves toward the warmth of any carbon-based life form that happens to wander by, i.e. you, your dog, a white-tailed deer, a mouse, etc. (Rains).
Crawling, waiting, dropping—that’s questing. (Even the word sounds heroic, doesn’t it?)
It’s a tremendous leap of faith.
Sometimes questing pans out for a tick. If the tick is hard-shelled, like a deer tick, it will feed on its host’s blood for as long as it needs to in order to complete any part of its 3-stage life cycle. Most soft-shelled ticks, on the other hand, only feed off hosts for a day at most (Davis and Stoppler).
Tick Super Glue
Hard-shelled ticks secrete a sort of «tick cement,» a glue-like substance that helps them stick to hosts.
Ever wonder why ticks are so difficult to remove once they clamp onto your skin? In addition to using their mouthparts to latch onto hosts, they also secrete a gooey substance called cementum. (Think Spiderman and his web shooters.)
Cementum helps ticks attach their feeding tubes, which are often barbed, firmly into their hosts, allowing them to hang on tight (Davis and Stoppler; «Ticks»).
Surviving the Hard Times
Some ticks can live for a really long time without food.
Instead of starving to death when they can’t find a host to feed upon, sometimes ticks go into a sort of stasis until the situation improves.
How much of a smartypants are you?
I knew .
Ticks You Might Meet
Most of us will ordinarily encounter only 2 types of ticks at most: hard-shelled & soft-shelled. Of the two, you’re least likely to meet those from the soft-shelled family, Argasidae. They feed primarily on chickens, mice & bats (Lee).
Hard-shelled ticks of the Ixodidae family are much more likely to make your acquaintance. They live in woodlands, yards and on pets («Managing»).
Adult deer ticks and bear ticks, for instance, become dormant in the winter if they haven’t been able to find a host in the fall. In spring, when chances are better that they’ll find a good meal, they «reawaken» and recommence their quest («Blacklegged Ticks»).
According to a publication by Urban Integrated Pest Management in the Southern Region called «Ticks,» deer and bear ticks aren’t alone in their super-tick ability to survive starvation. American dog tick larvae can live up to 540 days without a meal, and dog tick nymphs can survive as many as 584 days without food.
Adult brown dog ticks are somewhat competitive, lasting up to 200 days without even a drop of blood to sustain them.
Ticks carry a remarkable number of dangerous diseases in addition to Lyme Disease.
World-wide, ticks are second only to mosquitoes as disease vectors or carriers. In the United States, they’re the most common vectors, probably due to numerous outbreaks of Lyme Disease (Davis and Stoppler).
Ticks can carry numerous disease-causing pathogens at one time—bacteria, spirochetes, rickettsiae, protozoa, viruses, nematodes, toxins, etc. In other words, they’re loaded with the potential to cause lots of dangerous illnesses. And they can transmit multiple disease-carrying pathogens with a single bite. These diseases include Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, Lyme Disease, Relapsing Fever, Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, STARI (Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness), 364D Rickettsiosis and Tularemia («Tickborne Diseases»; «Tickborne Diseases of the U.S.).
«Blacklegged Ticks (Deer Tick, Bear Tick).» Minnesota Department of Health. 14 January 2011. MDH. 28 August 2012. Web.
Davis, Charles Patrick and Melissa Conrad Stoppler. «Ticks.» EMedicineHealth. 2012. WebMD. 27 August 2012. Web.
Lee, Susan. «Did You Know That Some Ticks Can Also Bite Humans?» Examiner.com. 8 Sept. 2011. 28 August 2012. Web.
Malinoski, Mary Kay. «Entomology.» MD Master Gardener Handbook. University of Maryland Extension. September 2008. 91-104. Print.
«Managing Common Tick Pests in Los Angeles County.» County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health. 29 August 2012. Web.
Rains, Bernie. «Tiny, Tenacious, Terrible Ticks.» MDCOnline. 19 November 2010. Missouri Department of Conservation. 28 August 2012. Web.
«Tickborne Diseases.» National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 15 February 2011. US Department of Health and Human Services. 28 August 2012. Web.
«Tickborne Diseases of the U.S.» Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States Government. 26 August 2012. Web.
«Ticks.» Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States Government. 26 August 2012. Web.
«Ticks.» Urban Integrated Pest Management in the Southern Region. 27 August 2012. Web.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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7 years ago from United States
Hi Jackie. I didn’t know that garlic could be used as tick repellant. (My ancient cat smells like cheese, so a bit of garlic would only improve his aroma.) Thanks for commenting! —Jill
Hey ElleBee! I’m just thankful that ticks are small. Can you imagine how gross they’d be if they were, say . the size of a hamster—or even a bee? ICK!
7 years ago from United States
Hi Vespa! I really enjoy reading your cooking hubs. Thanks for commenting & sharing this article. —Jill
Yuck! I don’t know if this made me or less afraid of ticks. I had heard some of these facts before, but somehow seeing them all in one place seemed even grosser. Hopefully this winter won’t be quite as mild as last, so that our tick season won’t be as bad!
7 years ago from the beautiful south
Really interesting. Such a bad ugly thing to have so many chances, gee. My son use to have problems with them when he had horses.
I use garlic for my cat to prevent fleas and ticks and I know many poo poo it but she will be 18 in February and never gets either.
7 years ago from Peru, South America
This is a fascinating and well-written article! I had no idea ticks could remain dormat for so long. I did suspect the wait and drop method, but had never heard about the «super glue» that keeps them stuck on their victim. There’s a large park in front of our house we avoid like the plague because it’s full of ticks! The poor dogs often become unwitting victims. Very interesting. voted up and shared.
7 years ago from United States
Hi Derdriu! Good to hear from you. We use Frontline on our dog, and it really keeps the ticks at bay. (The ones we do find on him are dead.) I do believe there’s Frontline for cats, too, so Gusty is in luck. Thanks for stopping by! —Jill
Jill, They certainly are determined little arachnids, aren’t they? Is there such a thing as an effective tick repellant for cats and dogs? My Maine Coon kittycat Gusty is loved by all who meet her — unfortunately even the ticks who from time to time try to make the interaction permanent by attaching themselves to her neck!
Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing such valuable information in such winsome ways, Derdriu
7 years ago from United States
Awesome, Pamela-anne. I learned a lot in researching this hub article, too. Glad you stopped by to comment. Take care, Jill
7 years ago from United States
Hey, OldRoses! So happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comments! (: —Jill
@ Farmer Rachel— OMG, the tick pictures really are gross, aren’t they? I’ll never get pinned! If only I could find a few tick glamour shots to put up.
7 years ago from Miller Lake
Thanks for the informative hub I certainly learned more about ticks than I knew especially that they are in the spider family thanks for sharing!
7 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota
Ewww. We have a real tick problem this year, probably due to the mild winter. I went 23 years of life without ever having a tick on me, and have had 5 since the spring. Hate them. Nice hub, though 🙂 Voted up and interesting (I would pin it, but the pictures are too gross, haha).
Tick super powers — hahahahahahaha! This is the best hub of yours that I’ve read (so far). Through the use of humor you conveyed a lot of possibly boring information while keeping readers’ attention. Great, great job.
7 years ago from United States
Hi Glimmer Twin Fan! Sorry you were bitten. We’ve don’t have a tick problem this year, but last year was horrible! Stay safe & tick-free! —Jill
Ticks are nasty, especially this year. I got bitten by one for the first time earlier this year. I freaked out. Interesting hub and it’s no wonder I didn’t know it was there since it injected me with a nerve toxin. Ugh.
7 years ago from Hudson, FL
Hahah! We must be kindred spirits. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with all those seeds. And yes, we do have some awesome adventures 🙂
7 years ago from United States
Hey Radcliff! I really would have loved that. How do you know me so well?! I’ve been collecting more and more seed. Now one entire counter is covered—and the dining table is going to be next. Glad you stopped by to comment. Sounds like you & the little one have lots of sweet adventures together. Take care, Jill
7 years ago from Hudson, FL
Now I’m itchy. *shudder*
The little one and I found thousands of sprouting seeds washed up on shore at the beach today, probably from the tropical storm. I immediately thought, «Oooh, The Dirt Farmer would like this!» LOL Anyway, I looked them up and they’re black mangrove seeds. Nice plants, but unfortunately not something I can put into a pot.
7 years ago from United States
Don’t the pictures just gross you out? They are so nasty.
7 years ago from Hawaii
Ticks probably upset and disgust me more than anything else in the world. I just can’t stand them!
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21 Plants That Repel Ticks: Fresh Smells We Love & Ticks Hate!
I’ve been planning some flower beds around trees (less weed-eating around big roots!) and next to the house and figured I should use some plants that repel ticks.
It’s on my mind with the recent news about Lyme disease. I know a couple of people that have come down with that disease and it sounds simply terrible.
I live in a very wooded area and absolutely hate petting the dog or cat only to find a big bump in their fur. I’m sure you can all relate, finding a big tick on the back of your head or in your arm pit.
With that I started researching plants ticks hate. Deterring them from even entering the property should go a long way to keeping them off myself and my little pet buddies.
Let me share with you what I discovered. Most sites only list a few of these plants that deter ticks, but since I always enter my completionist research mode, I managed to turn up a lot more than three or four.
What Plants Repel Ticks?
Below is a quick list of plants that repel ticks due to their chemical makeup. The upside is we love them. They include wonderfully smelling flowers, tasty herbs, and visually gorgeous plants.
Please read carefully though, because some of these can be toxic to your pets, especially if we’re talking about a cat that likes to wander through the flower bed.
Everybody (but ticks) enjoy the rich purple color of lavender as well as its fragrance. Mosquitos and moths apparently hate it too, which makes it a triple threat of a flower to grow in your yard.
We love it so much it’s in air fresheners, used as a culinary herb, an essential oil, in traditional medicine, and even in cosmetics.
You probably already know if you’re one of the rare few, but lavender can irritate eczema or facial dermatitis when applied directly to the skin.
If that’s you, it’s best to avoid growing it or at least wear gloves and take care not to touch your face when working in the garden.
Also, it can induce nausea and vomiting in your pets if they ingest it, so please be aware.
Mentha pulegium, or Pennyroyal, is another member of the mint family and a natural tick repellent. It’s among the more effective plants that mosquito and ticks dislike, but watch it because it can spread quickly. And because it grows so easily, that’s a double warning.
Fortunately it’s fairly attractive. The bulbs have a «fuzzy» type of flowing with pretty light purple leaves and pistils. They grow in tiers and will have flowering up along the stalk. I like them and think they look great in a more wild yard where they’re allowed to grow tall.
This one may even repel you! I have friends that want more and more garlic in their food, and others that can’t stand it. If you can’t stand it, you might be a tick, because they also hate this plant.
Like other herbs mentioned in this post, you can later crush the cloves and use them in the kitchen. If you don’t do that, you can consider crushing them up and tossing it around borders of your yard as they move out of season.
This perennial herb is often used as a companion plant to repel ticks, fleas, and other insects due to it’s odor. Notice I didn’t say fragrance because some people can’t stand it while others (like me) love it.
Once I discovered it as a cooking herb, I fell in love and have grown it in my kitchen window sill since.
If you like the smell, great. It’s also non-toxic to dogs and cats. It’s not particularly pretty but can bring a lot of green to an herb garden or flower bed. But better yet, it runs off those pesky blood-sucking insects.
Beautyberry bushes are so pretty. They have small purple berries growing along them, but it is the leaves that act as the natural insect repellent. Deer ticks, mosquitos, and even ants will stay away from these plants.
The USDA’s Natural Products Utilization Research Unit found that it’s almost as effective as DEET, including a 100% repellency of black-legged ticks for three hours.
Chrysanthemums contain a chemical called pyrethrum that is a natural pesticide for fleas and ticks. It totally shuts down their nervous systems, so they stay as far away as possible.
You’ll see these called mums, sometimes. They’re beautiful, coming in various bright colors like pink, orange, purple, and yellow.
They can brighten up any garden with their big colorful bulbs that flower into spheres. They keep tons of pests away and look so good, there’s zero reason not to include them in your tick-repelling mission.
These can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets if they’re dumb enough to eat it.
Eucalyptus oils, like peppermint and citrus oils, repel ticks greatly. You can grow these into bushes or even trees. The oils that run off our insect enemies come from the leaves, but the wood and leaves are used in tons of industries.
Depending on the sub-type of eucalyptus you grow, they can look real refined as trees or can be far more like a shrub and a mess you need to maintain. But either way they get the job done that we’re looking for.
People suggest planting mint in pots rather than in the ground due to how quickly and aggressively it spreads. That’s not a huge problem because it smells wonderful and drives away insects. The aromatic oil in the leaves are what gets the job done.
Many people say that containers of mint placed on your porch or around your yard can do wonders in driving off insects, mainly ticks and mosquitos. Sounds like a great replacement for screening in your patio!
Like sage, some people don’t like the smell of rosemary while others think it’s the bee’s knees. I think it looks cool and I love it when the purple / blue flowers begin to bloom.
What I like best is the prospect of repelling ticks while planting something I would have planted anyways. When your pets brush against it, it’ll add some repellent to their coat, too.
Rosemary is a very common culinary herb, so if you’re into that you can pull double duty and dry it out, crush it in a mortar and pestle, and add it to your dinner.
You’ve heard the song «Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme.» Those four simply go together, the opposite of me and insects.
Known as Artemisia absinthium, it was once (and I guess still is) used to make an intoxicating drink. For the same reason, ticks don’t like it due to the way the smell and chemicals make them feel.
Wormwood grows into a shrub that can be up to three feet high, so think of this less like a plant and kind of like a bush. When in bloom, the flowers are a pretty yellow. But all in all it’s not that attractive of a plant, in my opinion. But the ticks hate it!
Obviously, your cat will love you for planting this tick deterrent. Not only do ticks despise catnip, but so do cockroaches and mosquitos. Some people suggest crushing up dried catnip (the kind you buy at the store) and rubbing it into your cat’s fur. I don’t go this far.
Another issue is your cat can get real hyper around these and tear up your garden, so don’t plant them too close to other flowers. Also, you may possibly attract other neighborhood cats, which isn’t typically an issue unless they’re feral.
Rue is an evergreen herb that has blue / metallic leaves. Not only does it act as an insect repellent but it also has antifungal and antimicrobial properties, helping out the other plants around it. Flies, beetles, and slugs dislike this as much as ticks do.
Their smell drives all kinds of bugs crazy, especially ticks and fleas. Cat’s don’t like it either so you don’t have to worry about them tearing up the plants. Just don’t plant it next to your catnip if you want your feline friend to enjoy it.
Obviously from the daisy family, the fleabane daisy is a tall flower very similar to chamomile in appearance, though they can include white and pink shades of flowers.
They fit into any garden but look great against walls, particularly. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, largely in grassland and dry mountainous regions.
The name tells you exactly what they’re good for. They are the bane of ticks and fleas, or so people say. Some call it superstition, and others swear by their efficacy. Give it a shot, who cares! They look great regardless.
You know about citronella candles to keep flying insects away. Citronella is a natural oil that comes from lemongrass, which is an ornamental grass that can grow up to four feet tall. It’s an annual that many people plant around their sidewalks or against their homes.
It’s used in culinary dishes too, like Chinese chicken and pork recipes and in soups. Please know that lemongrass can cause stomach upsets in your pets.
I think these look a lot better in a pot than in the grass, myself, probably because I grew up having to maintain it at my parent’s house.
Geranium, especially rose geranium, are great mosquito repellents but keep ticks at bay as well. They grow fast, especially in sunny and dry areas. They look great in flower beds or as decorations in and around vegetable gardens.
Growing up, we’d find this growing wild in fields all the time. They’re gorgeous with small, colorful flowers. You probably recognize them from the photo above. They can have a «wild» appearance, but the flowers are so pretty.
The nice thing about marigolds are they’re easy to grow due to their hardiness. They’ll grow in nearly any conditions and are great at repelling whiteflies, nematodes, and of course ticks.
Unless you get up close, you won’t smell them that obviously, but insects can smell the foilage and say «nope, not going in that yard today.»
You’ll rarely see a more beautiful flower. They’re round and thick, ranging somewhere between yellow and orange in their petals. If you to look and can’t find seeds or potted flowers, check for the alternate name, Aztec marigold.
Most people are aware of chamomile because it makes a wonderful, calming tea. But guess what else it does? You’ve got it, it keeps ticks away thanks to its fragrance.
They must be crazy, but hey, who am I to argue with parasites? The further away they are from me, the happier I am.
Not only do these yellow flowers with white petals bring a sense of innocence and joy to your garden, they supposedly have health benefits to surrounding plants, perhaps because they keep pests away.
I’ll take it! Try making your own tea if you grow chamomile, but only drink it in the evenings.
Basil is another herb that is used for a ton of purposes, but ours is as a companion plant that drives away various types of insects. Make sure that you plant it in an area that receives at least six to seven hours of sunlight to help it thrive.
You want to know what plants repel ticks, so please make sure that if you plant basil for that reason that you choose sweet basil (Genovese basil). It has a strong scent of cloves that you’ll appreciate, but our little tick friends will find disgusting.
It’s an annual (as opposed to perennial) so you’ll have to work to keep it around each year, but it’s worth it.
You may find these goofy (I do), but these crazy plants demolish ticks, fleas, and flies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They need direct sunlight and prefer high moisture. They’re honestly kind of cool to have around.
I mean, what’s not to like about a meat-eating plant with giant jaws and teeth that devour pests all day and night? It reminds me of «The Little Shop of Horrors» movie, though, so don’t let them grow too large.
Thyme is another tasty, perennial evergreen. I didn’t realize this but it’s a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and related to oregano. It’s been around forever, even in ancient Egypt and Greece. It’s been used as an incense for thousands of years, so you know it smells great.
You can use it for its main purpose, as a culinary herb, but for us, I’d leave it for the length of its lifetime due to its power in keeping ticks away. When it flowers, it has small, white petals that bring a nice feel to an otherwise boring yard, fence border, sidewalk, or flowerbed.
It’s said that the vitamin B1 found in sunflower seeds repels ticks. I’m not clear if you need to crush up the seeds to have the oils seep out or what, but either way I think sunflowers are wonderful. I’m a big fan of tall and big flowers.
Getting up close and really taking in the beauty of the intricate sunflower flower is an amazing experience. The best part is you can always take some to your mother in a vase for her birthday or Mother’s Day.
Plants Ticks Hate & We Love
Thankfully we love the plants that ticks hate. But why are people concerned with repelling ticks? Let’s talk about some some of the basics of why these insects can be devastating to our lives.
Ticks are a type of arachnid (like spiders), part of the Parasitiformes order, closely related to mites in the subclass Acari. They are parasitic, engaging in hematophagy, meaning they live by feeding on the blood of larger animals and people.
They’ve been around since the Cretaceous period. We know this since we’ve found them fossilized in amber like on the Jurassic Park movie. They even snacked on dinosaurs.
There’s two main families, called Ixodidae or hard ticks, and Argasidae or soft ticks. They have eight legs and a beak that contains the mouth, which is embedded in your skin to gain access to your blood.
The main problem with all this is that they’re huge vectors of diseases and they are pervasive.
They’re sinister. There’s even ones called the spinose ear tick that get into the ears of animals like dogs and cattle. Tropical bond ticks are a big problem in Africa and the Caribbean.
In North America the Ixodes scapularis is how we end up with Lyme disease. They’re mainly found in the ecotone, which is the transitional habitat between woodlands and grasslands.
That means a great way to keep the population down in your yard is to remove brush, weeds, and leaf litter in your yard, especially if you have trees. This gets rid of shade and moist areas where they deposit their eggs.
Plants That Deter Ticks & Their Diseases
Here’s a list of just some of the diseases that are communicable by tick. They include pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. The number is nearly endless, so here’s just a sampling:
- Queensland tick typhus
- African tick bite fever
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Lyme disease
- Q fever
- Colorado tick fever
- Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever
- Bourbon virus
- Tick-borne meningoencephalitis
- Heartland virus
That’s a tiny sampling. There’s even stuff like the Australian paralysis tick that are venomous and cause tick paralysis.
The depth and breadth of the problems they can cause are life threatening in the immediate and in general, causing huge disruptions in life quality. Take for example the lone star tick that can cause red-meat allergies in their victims. It’s ridiculous.
Plants That Keep Ticks Away Smell Great
The worst part about ticks is the diseases they carry. The second best part is they can be kept away easily by doing something you’d do anyways, which is maintaining a flowerbed or garden.
Notice I said second best before, because I was saving the ultimate benefit of all of our effort for last: we get left with amazingly colorful and wonderfully smelling flowers and plants in our yard.
Our pets will love it, our children will cherish it, and we can take joy from them and our own enjoyment.