Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

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Kyle from Carolina
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Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Kyle from Carolina » May 27th, 2015, 3:32 pm

Deet doesn't work and that millitary brand sulfur-smelling stuff doesn't either. Every time I go to new england I get covered in the damn things. Several of my friends have contracted lyme's in the connecticut river valley and after waking up to a deer tick lodged in my armpit, I figure it's only a matter of time...

how do yall avoid them?

I do the standard socks in pants, tucked in shirt, and a thorough check, but dang...they're just awful in MA and I can't seem to keep up with them. Anybody recommend a good repellant? The obvious choice would be to avoid the grassy ecotones and abandoned orchards, but that's where I find the herps...

-Kyle

MCHerper
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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by MCHerper » May 28th, 2015, 4:18 am

Hi Kyle,

In the Northeast, avoiding getting ticks on you is impossible, and if you are hitting fields or ecotones, you are going to be dealing with them by the dozen. Here's my best advice:

As you noted, light colored clothes, including light-colored long sleeved t-shirt, shirt tucked in pants, pants tucked in socks.

Treat clothes from head to toe, plus boots, gear, etc. with permethrin. Follow directions. Permethrin is VERY effective, but not 100%. Do not spray permethrin on skin, spray on clothes and allow them to dry for 24 hours.

Use a partner system. Every few minutes, check each other's back, sides, etc. while out in the field.

I use a lint roller for the nymphs and larval ticks that are so hard to see. This is especially good for getting the ones on the back of your legs after being in the field. This is also good when you don't have a partner. Lint roll the back of your legs before getting into the car, and take your shirt off and check it inside and out. They hide in the seams of your collar, sleeves, etc.

I personally get a buzz cut in the spring and maintain it all season long (into late fall). My sons do too (ages 4 and 7). It sounds extreme, but I am not taking any chances with Lyme or the other dozen freaky diseases that these guys carry.

Another alternate for you: ticks seem to be attracted to carbon dioxide coming from the skin. I have a friend who wears waders into the fields when birding, and he swears by it. I've seen him in action and they don't seem to bother him. Maybe there's something to ticks not 'recognizing' the rubber and not grabbing on, or falling off?

Before you get into the car, thoroughly check your clothes, equipment, etc.

When you get home, check your car seats. Take clothes off immediately and put them into washing machine. Do a full-body check, behind ears, etc (hopefully you have someone to do this for you) and shower.

When drying clothes, dry them on high heat (the ticks can survive the washing machine cycle). I've read that it's not actually the heat that kills the ticks, it's the dessication from the dryer.

If you get sick and develop flu-like symptoms during the 'tick season', even if you don't see a tick, go to a Lyme-literate doctor and ask for his recommendation. I was nailed by a deer tick a few years ago and my doctor insisted on putting me on a month of doxycycline, just in case. The antibodies don't show up until about a month after you are infected, so going on doxy might be frivolous, but it's up to the doctor and the individual. If you get sick and the doctor doesn't put you on antibiotics, and a few months later you develop pain in your joints, go immediately to the doctor and get treated, because advanced stages of the disease are devastating.

As of a few years ago, the Western blot was the most effective test for Lyme antibodies. Things may be different now. Pay attention to this as some tests are ineffective.

I don't blame you at all for your vigilance. Lyme can ruin your life.

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Kyle from Carolina
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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Kyle from Carolina » May 28th, 2015, 7:21 am

Thanks for the thorough advice, MCHerper. I hadn't heard of this lint roller trick but it's something I will definitely try out along with the permethrin. I had a pair of permethrin treated pants when I worked in Maryland a few years back, I guess I should pick up some more. The immediate clothes removal and washing is already a standard procedure for me as I am hyper sensitive to poison ivy. The waders are a good idea too. I've worn them daily for the last two summer field seasons doing wetland work, so I could handle that. It looks like I'm going to have a few designated 'tick outfits' and my herping expeditions will be less haphazard in the NE. If yall see somebody flipping cover in what looks like a hazmat suit in the NE, stop and say hello to me. :)


On a related note, I've noticed that the ticks are bad in piedmont NC, where my parents live, but if I go herping in fire managed longleaf/loblolly pine forests in the sandhills or coastal NC, I don't get any ticks. I wonder how much wildfire influences tick populations or if it's mostly a host/habitat deal.

-Kyle

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by MCHerper » May 28th, 2015, 9:58 am

Kyle,

Regarding the wildfires, our Pine Barrens here in NJ are a tinder box, and they are occasionally subject to both controlled and uncontrolled burns. Oddly, I haven't seen much difference in the density of ticks after a burn. The Pine Barrens are absolutely loaded with ticks, both before and after burns. That being said, I haven't really explored an area after an uncontrolled burn, which tends to be hotter (goes up into the canopy) and, of course, more widespread.

Also, I don't know if I would opt for the pre-treated pants. Wouldn't it be less expensive to get some permethrin and treat an existing pair yourself?

MC

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Kyle from Carolina
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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Kyle from Carolina » May 28th, 2015, 11:08 am

Yes, I was thinking of doing the treatment myself. The pre-treated ones that I had were given to me by another person because they didn't fit him.

Kyle

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ebit123
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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by ebit123 » May 28th, 2015, 4:27 pm

Yes I agree about treating clothes with permethrin. Of course I get lazy and don't use it regularly, but If I remember correctly, the treatment can last a number of days, and survive laundering.
Also don't forget to wear a cap/hat, and tie up hair if long. I have found them in mine and my son's hair.
Remember it does need to be biting you/attached to you for 36 hours about for Lyme to pass to you (according to my doctor), so if you find the guy on you soon enough, don't need to worry.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by herper1 » May 28th, 2015, 7:03 pm

I dont worry about the ticks much, I can feel them on me and see them, try to get them before they get you. What gets me occasionally in NJ, and I mean really rips me up, is chiggers. Cant really see them unless you get into a whole patch of them. I use the lint roller on my legs as soon as I am out of the woods.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Jimi » May 31st, 2015, 7:09 am

I dont worry about the ticks much, I can feel them on me and see them
Risky practice. As MC said, "Lyme can ruin your life". That's no exaggeration. Ruin. Your. Life.

Something I have noticed in my travels is that some places, as soon as the tick bites you feel it. This is way before they latch on, so they're still super easy to pull off. They probably haven't started feeding so maybe there's less disease risk. Other places however, the tick bites are painless. A more accurate way to say it is, they create no sensation whatsoever.

Ticks start life small. Unlike when they're say an eighth of an inch across and bigger, there's really no feeling them crawl on you when they're tiny. They can also be really hard to see, especially if they've already gotten under your clothes.

MC's advice is spot-on. I suggest you amend your practice. Permethrin is also highly effective against chiggers. I re-treat clothes more frequently than the maximum effectiveness duration stated on the packaging; say, monthly instead of 6 weeks. I notice a decline in insect aversion to the stuff, after that much time and 3-4 washings. I only treat my outer layer - pants, long-sleeved shirt, sun hat, and boot socks. Undershirt, boxers, and sock liners get no treatment. Boots and gloves (I usually wear leather gloves flipping) get DEET.

********

Interesting observation on the waders. I used to do a lot of trout surveys in hilly timbered & brushy country, which was lousy with ticks. We'd hike in our waders (lightweight Cordura nylons, not neoprenes). I don't recall seeing ticks on the waders, ever. They were not repellent-treated (these were rare, mostly ESA-listed fish - we were careful not to harm them).

cheers,
Jimi

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by pete » May 31st, 2015, 2:36 pm

I keep checking myself as I go. I've been using a lemon grass tea tree oil spray that works ok. I'm getting leery of constantly coating myself with repellents and pesticides. I've had Lyme for over twenty years and don't want anything else those lil bastards might be carrying.
You'll get used to em, just don't get complacent and you'll be fine.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by NewYorkHerper16 » May 31st, 2015, 2:59 pm

Ticks are pretty much my worst nightmare when i'm herping too! Lyme disease is way too prevalent in the Northeast, so I've been wondering about using Permethrin. It seems like it works great, but i have really been wondering if it would be harmful to the herps i find. I know it's only supposed to be toxic to humans and pets when it's in the liquid form and safe when completely dry, but can it rehydrate when it comes in contact with water? I definitely wouldnt use it if that was the case since i dont want to hurt the reptiles and especially the amphibians that i handle. Something tells me if it's deadly to ticks it's probably deadly to amphibians too, but does anyone know for sure?

Thank you for starting this informative thread, Kyle! This is such an important issue for those of us who frequent the Northeast!

-Alex

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by ZantiMissKnit » June 1st, 2015, 5:58 am

NewYorkHerper16 wrote:Ticks are pretty much my worst nightmare when i'm herping too! Lyme disease is way too prevalent in the Northeast, so I've been wondering about using Permethrin. It seems like it works great, but i have really been wondering if it would be harmful to the herps i find. I know it's only supposed to be toxic to humans and pets when it's in the liquid form and safe when completely dry, but can it rehydrate when it comes in contact with water? I definitely wouldnt use it if that was the case since i dont want to hurt the reptiles and especially the amphibians that i handle. Something tells me if it's deadly to ticks it's probably deadly to amphibians too, but does anyone know for sure?

Thank you for starting this informative thread, Kyle! This is such an important issue for those of us who frequent the Northeast!

-Alex
Alex, I have heard that Permethrin is toxic to aquatic life. I would think that it would be harmful to amphibians, much like all insect repellent.

I have not invested in it yet, because we have three cats and no outside place to keep our clothes to dry (live in a townhouse). We use regular repellent and do a check when we get home (and clothes go into the washer), but we have missed some and Mike did have a tick-borne illness last year. Ticks have already been really bad this year.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by ZantiMissKnit » June 1st, 2015, 6:36 am

Also, please, please, please check EVERYWHERE. I know a few people who have found ticks embedded in their nether regions, and that sounds quite unpleasant.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Jimi » June 1st, 2015, 10:40 am

people who have found ticks embedded in their nether regions, and that sounds quite unpleasant
It is most unpleasant. Up a nostril or in an ear canal might be worse. Or it might not.
no outside place to keep our clothes to dry (live in a townhouse)
hell, I'd do it in the back of a truck at the quiet edge of a big parking lot - lay out the clothes in the truck bed, spray them down, and go shopping for a while; then go home and stick everything in the dryer to complete the drying process

alternatively, get a concrete mixing tub or something similar, and stick it in your car trunk - do the clothes in there, and finish them in the dryer once they're just damp
but can it rehydrate when it comes in contact with water
not enough to have caused me any trouble - I have routinely sweated my permethrin-treated clothes soggy, and also been through numerous downpours in them (and stayed out working all day) - no problems
i dont want to hurt the reptiles and especially the amphibians that i handle
I think if you're really that hung up on it, just don't handle the animals - wouldn't that give you peace of mind? while also allowing you to go outside more safely?

otherwise, just don't set the animals on your clothes - that should be sufficient (permethrin does NOT go on your skin, it's only for your clothes)

cheers,
Jimi

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by NewYorkHerper16 » June 1st, 2015, 12:21 pm

Thanks for the information, Andrea and Jimi! If i invest in Permethrin, i think i'm just going to treat my boots and socks. I always wear very light-colored jeans in the field which makes it much easier to spot ticks, and since most ticks get picked up from the ground i think treating my boots and socks would help a lot with the tick problem. I'll just make sure not to walk into any water sources that might have animals living in them, just in case.

Lol Andrea, i bet having a tick there would not be pleasant at all! I have a friend who's had that before, and i'll take his word that it isnt a fun surprise to see! :lol:

Thanks again, everybody!

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by slowbow » June 9th, 2015, 4:56 pm

I'll offer a little advice from experience. As you know, I'm an avid hunter and fishermen. I spend great deals of time off the beaten trail in thick brush. I know herpers do too, but as I said I'm avid. I have also used permethrin for years, and here is wheat I have found out. Treat you whole set of clothes. Pants, shirt, boots, and ball cap if you wear one. It will take all of one can to do this.

I treat my clothes for the spring turkey season a week in advance. Turkey season is six weeks long, and I have never needed to reapply. Even after a few washings and getting soaked in the morning dew or caught in the occasional downpour, it last the entire season with one application. Never got tick one.

In the fall before I start bowhunting, I treat my hunting clothes once again. Permethrin is odorless so it works great for deer hunting. Keep in mind, I do treat several sets of clothes, but I wash them in scent free detergent before each hunt and hunt several times a week most year. I have never had a problem with it wearing off before it gets cold enough in November to put the bugs to sleep. Not one tick.

I also treat a set for fishing. On more than one occasion, fishing, hunting, I have been in a set of treated clothes and not had a single bug on me, and watched the people I was with pull a dozen or more off them, and spend hours feeling "tickie" constantly looking under their shirt and such feeling like bugs were crawling on them.

I have also heard people say it doesn't whorl good. I can attest used properly it does. Thoroughly soak a set of clothes, and let them dry completely and you won't have to worry for a month or more, even with laundering your clothes or getting caught in the rain a few times. Small price to pay for peace of mind.

It also keeps chiggers off.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by slowbow » June 9th, 2015, 5:01 pm

Jimi wrote:
people who have found ticks embedded in their nether regions, and that sounds quite unpleasant

Had one IN my belly button. That was no fun getting that one out. I've had some in other odd places over the years. Lets just say a number of years ago I went to take a leak, and didn't remember having a mole on the end there…. true story. Of course, this was before I treated my clothes, and one of the reasons I am so religious about doing so now.

Permethrin, I swear by it. It works.

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Kyle from Carolina
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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Kyle from Carolina » June 15th, 2015, 1:02 pm

Lot's of good advice here. Thanks to all.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Lt.Mike » June 23rd, 2015, 3:48 pm

I use Deep Woods Off with Deet.
Works as it should and while we all know the health risk a tick bite poses this product also works effectively for repelling chiggers.
Ticks are bad but chiggers are maddening and have actually deterred me from entering areas I would otherwise would have gone into.
Mike.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by herper1 » June 25th, 2015, 9:39 pm

To clarify what I said earlier when I said...
herper1 wrote:I dont worry about the ticks much, I can feel them on me and see them,
I do WORRY about them. But I live in an area where I pull a few off me after mowing my lawn, or go to my nephews little league game, or have a backyard bbq. In south Jersey they are part of life. I do believe I can feel one on me, even a small one. Maybe it is just a matter of over exposure that leads to a reduced fear.

Another thing I read on line, different doctors seem to disagree what the exact time frame is how long a tick needs to be on you before it can transmit Lyme. I have read as little as 24 hours, to as much as 48 hours. Which means you have a little time. After herping, take a shower and check.


I didn't intend to come across that I was not concerned. I believe in constant and thorough checks, and yes, I like the lint roller idea also.

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Re: Anybody recommend a good tick repellant?

Post by Lt.Mike » June 26th, 2015, 8:28 pm

herper1 wrote:To clarify what I said earlier when I said...
herper1 wrote:I dont worry about the ticks much, I can feel them on me and see them,
I do WORRY about them. But I live in an area where I pull a few off me after mowing my lawn, or go to my nephews little league game, or have a backyard bbq. In south Jersey they are part of life. I do believe I can feel one on me, even a small one. Maybe it is just a matter of over exposure that leads to a reduced fear.

Another thing I read on line, different doctors seem to disagree what the exact time frame is how long a tick needs to be on you before it can transmit Lyme. I have read as little as 24 hours, to as much as 48 hours. Which means you have a little time. After herping, take a shower and check.


I didn't intend to come across that I was not concerned. I believe in constant and thorough checks, and yes, I like the lint roller idea also.
I can add a couple points to what you've said on the time frame, if you've been bitten by a deer or lone star tick, the two that carry lyme disease and he's in you good you may get a telltale sign of the bulls eye around the bite.
I've been there with that awful ring on my chest. I called my doctors office and explained why I wanted an appointment to the receptionist. She said "we don't treat a tick bite till I show other symptoms". What? oh hell no! Let me talk to the doctor!
Ok having done so I was told to get my butt in there to receive an antibiotic shot that has a good chance of killing the lyme if you get it in the first 48 hrs.
The receptionist got corrected by the Dr. and I got the shot.
The big red text book bulls eye went away and in my annual blood tests since no lyme has been found.
So if you get bit and get the bulls eye, get the shot!

One trick I do when dealing with seed ticks and chiggers in the field besides using deep woods off is to bring Clorox wipes with me.
I'll admit it sounds harsh but if you've ever walked through grass to find 100 baby seed ticks around your ankles or have spent a week losing your mind over chigger bites a harsh preventative measure is whats called for. I'll use the Clorox wipes on my legs when I return to the truck. It kicks the crap out of those buggers.
Oh ya I also prefer to wear shorts in the field as i can tell quicker if that was sweat or a tick I just felt easier than with long pants.
:roll: damn, I feel itchy now just writing this post.
Mike.

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