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In the War Against Ticks, This Spray Is My Secret Weapon

Vile, horrible, insidious, and disgusting are just a few of the words I use to describe ticks.

There is absolutely nothing to like about these awful, disease-ridden insects.

They range in size from a sesame seed to a poppy seed. And they can infect you with any number of terrible ailments, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Powassan virus, or alpha-gal syndrome, which makes you allergic to many different types of meat.

Because ticks are so small, feeling them on the skin is difficult. And their bite—which they perform with a horrific, saw-like mouth (video)—is often undetectable.

My loathing of ticks is based on personal experience. I live in a rural area and spend a lot of time outdoors in the woods and in my fields. I’ve been treated for Lyme disease and other tick-related ailments on at least five separate occasions, and two of those involved full, 30-day courses of doxycycline, which is its own special nightmare.

I conduct nightly tick checks on my kids, and I watch them like a hawk for Lyme disease symptoms. I pull ticks off my cats and my sheep, and anytime I’m outdoors with someone, I remind them to check themselves when they get home.

Some standard bug repellents work on ticks (Wirecutter recommends Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent), but I supplement that with Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent.

Permethrin is completely different from regular repellents, like those that contain picaridin and DEET. For one thing, you apply permethrin to your clothing and gear (such as backpacks and tents), not to your skin. Once you’ve properly sprayed an item, it holds repellency for about six weeks or through roughly six washings. Unlike picaridin- and DEET-based sprays, permethrin is actually an insecticide, so it can kill ticks instead of just shooing them away.

Continue reading the full article written by Doug Mahoney here.


April 17, 2024

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Doug Mahoney

Doug Mahoney is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter covering home improvement. He spent 10 years in high-end construction as a carpenter, foreman, and supervisor. He lives in a very demanding 250-year-old farmhouse and spent four years gutting and rebuilding his previous home. He also raises sheep and has a dairy cow that he milks every morning.

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