Deer ticks, lone star ticks and the western black-legged ticks are parasites that spread Lyme Disease. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia are infections transmitted by the American dog tick. Insecticides such as permethrin and deet are used to repel ticks but can cause muscle pain and neurological impairment in humans. Diatomaceous earth, beneficial garden nematodes, dry ice and repellents made from neem and other oils are homeopathic remedies used to get rid of ticks.
Diatomaceous earth consists of the fossilized skeletal remains of algae.
Diatomaceous earth or “DE,” is a sedimentary rock that contains the ancient remains of phytoplankton. The rock is pulverized into a soft powder and used in fish tank filters, cosmetics, cat litter and toothpaste. DE is mildly abrasive but absorbent.
Food-grade DE is nontoxic to humans and pets and can be sprinkled on landscaping wood chips or on foliage near the home, reducing tick nymphs by 10 to 41 percent. DE can be safely used to dust dogs before they wander into wooded or tick-infested areas. Diatomaceous earth destroys ticks in a nonchemical way. The scratchy edges of diatom fossils that make up diatomaceous earth permeate the tick’s outer cuticle and absorb lipids and vital fluids from its body, causing it to die.
Beneficial Garden Nematodes
Beneficial nematodes can be added to soil to destroy ticks as well as garden grubs.
Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that are harmless to humans and pets. Beneficial nematodes can be purchased in a garden supply store. The nematodes reproduce in damp garden soil and infect female ticks with a fatal form of bacteria. Nematodes also destroy garden grubs, such as cutworms and Japanese beetles.
Dry ice emits carbon dioxide which attracts ticks.
Dry ice bait is useful for catching and eradicating ticks in your yard. Wear rubber gloves when handling dry ice. A block of dry ice is placed inside an inexpensive ice chest that has been perforated with six to eight holes. The holes enable carbon dioxide gas to escape from the cooler into the air. The gas is wildly attractive to ticks. The chest is set on top of a square of fleece or flannel that is wider than the base of the cooler. Double-sided tape is strategically placed around the inside border of the cloth to ensnare the ticks as they approach the cooler.
After three hours, the cloth is carefully removed and is immersed into a bucket of hot soapy water. The soap solution will drown any surviving ticks.
Neem and Essential Oil Spray Repellent
A tick repellant can be made from neem, rose geranium and other essential oils.
A homeopathic tick repellent can be concocted by combining one ounce of neem oil with 10 drops each of rose geranium, Himalayan cedarwood and Palo Santo oils. Two ounces of fractionated coconut oil is added as a carrier. Neem oil was scientifically proven to kill 100 percent of the tick larvae that infect Nigerian cattle within 48 hours of use. Neem is safe for humans and pets.
Neem oil and essential oils can cause birth defects. They should not be used by pregnant women.