Climate Change, Ticks, and My Family Vacation
After another unseasonably mild winter, this year’s bi-annual Bug Barometer forecasts that “Americans can collectively expect a very buggy spring and summer”. Unfortunately, that means more ticks and the risk of tick-borne diseases will be on the rise. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine,
“Most Lyme disease infections occur in the following areas:
- Northeastern states, from Virginia to Maine
- North-central states, mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota
- West Coast, mainly in the northwest”
OK, this is kinda freaking me out. Not only is climate change a global concern, how will a huge influx of ‘ticks’ personally affect my family’s summer trip?
Every summer my family spends a week in Hayward, Wisconsin; hence my reason for a little research. A “new prediction stresses Lyme disease outbreaks are expected to be widespread this year and next.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency (facing deep budget cuts pg. 47), Lyme disease is one of many indicators of climate change.
I’d like to vacation in a tick-free zone; however, I know my husband and nothing will stop him from pursuing the Musky King Crown (again). So what do I do?
Spray deet (in the form insect spray) all over my family every time they plan on leaving the cabin….Uh, no! Deet is banned in many countries because it is believed that this toxic chemical is not safe for their citizens. If that’s the case, it’s not safe for my family either!
According to a study in the journal BioMed Central Biology, “deet works in the same way as paralysing nerve gases that were used in warfare.” For further reading check out. Evidence for inhibition of cholinesterases in insect and mammalian nervous systems by the insect repellent deet.
Do some research on different types of synthetic mosquito/tick repellents. Consumer Reports has an ‘Insect Repellent Buying Guide; Choose an Insect Repellent that Really Works‘. I’m not a fan because most of these ‘synthetic’ insect repellents have hardly had any long-term testing (Mercola).
Dress appropriately , experiment with vitamin B1 (opinions vary on its effectiveness) and try essential oils. Last summer I created an effective organic concoction containing lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, and citronella oils mixed with water in a small spray bottle. This mixture was highly effective at keeping mosquitoes away and we didn’t smell like chemicals.
Until my neighbor recently revealed to me her struggles with Lyme disease, ticks weren’t even on my radar. This year, my mission is to find or create a potent tick repellent.
What I found…was amazing!
In addition to geraniums beautifying my yard, they also repel a variety of bugs…ticks included. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, rose geranium is known to be an extremely potent tick repellent. Guess what I’m adding to my bug repelling concoction this year 🙂
Unfortunately, my previously mentioned neighbor has been diagnosed with 4th stage Lyme disease and she has tried practically everything to relieve her aches and pains. This has become a life changing struggle for her. I, for my part, have been researching alternative cures. I’ll keep you posted…
Check out my next post for some interesting findings.
The featured photo of these lovely mosquito/tick repelling plants were planted in my yard last week. I’m not wasting any time🙂