I know I’m not the only one that hates the thought of using commercial pest repellents in the house and garden but we need something in our arsenal if we are to win the war on ticks and fleas. Right now the little devils are on the war path so here’s a few ideas on how we can repel ticks and fleas naturally.
Essential oils are not only an effective weapon but by and large it is the ones that smell delicious that also pack a punch in the war against ticks and fleas. However, and it is a big however, essentials oils and cats are not always happy combination. Humans have a much higher tolerance for phenol in essential oils and so while we often use them daily, if you have felines living with you please, please be aware of which oils pose a risk to them.
So, before we go any further here is a run down of the oils that are known to be safe for cats.
Cedarwood essential oil is often made without phenol and therefore would be one essential oil that is safe for cats—but before you buy a bottle just check the label for contents to be sure.
Lemongrass is a safe essential oil to use around cats at a low concentration but it shouldn’t be ingested or applied directly to their skin. It would be useful to spray their bedding or cat trees etc.
To use rosemary as flea repellent, rather than using the oil per se, boil a small saucepan of water with a sprig of rosemary. Let it steep for a while then strain. Dilute the rosemary tea with equal parts water and rub through your cat’s fur. If your cat will allow you bath them without drawing blood you could add the tea to a tub of warm water and sponge through the coat (Good Luck with that idea!)
Our dogs can benefit from a slightly more comprehensive range of essential oils, but always in dilutions and moderation.
Lemongrass is a powerful insecticidal oil and is well suited as a flea deterrent.
Cedarwood is especially effective when blended with citronella or lemongrass.
Citronella is a highly effective essential oil that sends fleas and ticks packing!
Lavender is a wonderful insect repellent. While we find its clean fresh scent soothing bugs of all kinds can’t stand it.
Dr. Bens Paws and Claws Flea and Tick Spray is an excellent, tried and trusted product if you are looking for a safe, effective and natural treatment that you can use on both your dogs and cats.
Happily many fragrances that smell wonderful to us are highly repellent to ticks. Lavender, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, cedar, rose geranium and citrus essential oils have all been shown to be a powerful tick repellents. Buy or make your own soaps and shampoos that are naturally enhanced with these plant oils.
To make your own bug repellent start with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or olive oil. To each 30ml of carrier oil add 12 drops of essential oil to create a natural repellent that you can spray, or smooth, onto your skin.
Diatomaceous Earth a grey-white powdery substance made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. It’s perfectly safe for humans and animals to ingest but to our pesky foes it’s deadly. As DE isn’t a poison (it wreaks havoc on their exoskeleton causing them to die of dehydration) ticks and fleas can’t become immune to it so it remains an effective weapon year after year.
Do keep in mind though that you must still act with some caution as DE is deadly to all insects – the good and the troublesome – so limit its use to the areas you know to be a problems.
You may have to buy diatomaceous earth (DE) on-line but it is a fabulous product to have to hand. Sprinkle it around in the areas where you are likely to find ticks and fleas, both inside and outside the house.
Chickens, Duck and Guinea Fowl
Free-ranging fowl are a great addition to any pest management system. Let them loose in your garden and they’ll get to work immediately eating grubs, grasshoppers, flies and ticks.
Tame The Jungle
Tall grass, moisture and shade are the prefered environment for ticks, so keep your grass cut short, bushes trimmed and leaves etc raked up.
DIY Fly Trap
And what about the plain old, super annoying house fly? Well, a simple to build DIY fly trap can be found here. It certainly isn’t pretty, and the more it molders the better. Just put it in an out of the way place and let it do its thing.
Lastly, what about those unknown munchers that are using your garden as an all you can eat buffet? Here is a garlic and mint spray that will convince them to move on to your neighbour’s garden when they are in the mood for a snack…