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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Fight the Bite: Natural Ways to Prevent and Control Tick-borne Diseases

In Massachusetts, Lyme disease is spread by blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks. Common approaches to control and prevent tick-borne diseases involve the use of chemical products such as permethrin. Although many of these solutions are proven effective, the Environmental Protection Agency reports possible human and environmental harm resulting from their use. Fortunately, all-natural and organic solutions exist to control and prevent tick-borne diseases in a manner that is safe for the environment.

Ingredients used in organic or natural treatments often contain garlic or essential oils applied in liquid or granular form. The words organic and natural can be loosely used by pest control and lawn care companies. When hiring a service company to control ticks around your home, keep these three tips in mind.

1. Ask for a MSDS and product labels. The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and product labels provide safety information and ingredients for all products used. Be sure to ask if the company mixes synthetic chemicals into their all-natural or organic products.

2. Research the ingredients. Products differ in their toxicity to humans, wildlife, aquatic organisms and beneficial insects. A simple Google search of ingredients will provide the environmental impact of the product used.

3. Be wary of one-time applications. Organic products used in the control of ticks can be just as effective as traditional insecticide alternatives, but often the organic products require an increase in the frequency of applications. If a company is offering a solution that requires less than three treatments for a full season of protection, ask for a MSDS and product label. Often, the organic product is being supplemented with a synthetic chemical.

Trevor Nelson of Pure Solutions offers these other suggestions for protection against ticks:

Dress to Protect. Wear light-colored clothing, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into socks.

Perform Daily Tick Checks. Pay particular attention to areas between the toes, back of the knees, groin, armpits, neck, along the hairline and behind the ears. Also, be sure to check pets before they enter the home.

Tick-Proof the Backyard. Make backyards less attractive to ticks and to animals that carry them, such as deer and rodents. Keep grass cut short, clear brush and move bird feeders and wood piles away from the home.

Trevor Nelson is the co-founder of Pure Solutions. For more information, visit