Does pyrethrum kill ticks?

How Does Deet Work Against Ticks

DEET is applied directly to the skin and can be absorbed through the skin. Permethrin is applied to clothing only and has limited contact to the skin. DEET has a detectable odor. Permethrin smells only until it dries. DEET does not kill or disable ticks and is a poor repellent. Permethrin works instantly and is extremely effective.


Is Natural Tick Repelling the Future or the Past?

Traditional repellents are considered effective and safe if used properly, but not all users like them. Therefore, the scientists are engaged in the development of new products for repelling and killing ticks based on plants and fungi which are natural tick repellents. Such drugs are safer, but the duration of their action is generally shorter than that of chemical analogs. Natural ingredients are constantly being tested. These tests demonstrate their ability to compete with substances such as DEET, but often being competitive requires an increase in concentration.

Unfortunately, everything is still in the lab testing stage. Few products containing these ingredients are sold, and the ones that are available have too few real users’ reviews that do not allow drawing any conclusions or recommending them as a proper means of protection. Below, we’ll summarize these new substances but we won’t risk recommending any of them as reliable or effective. Find the products in our list of the Top-18 Tick Repellents.

Repellents containing such active ingredient as 2-undecanone, are made of Lycopersicon hirsutum (wild tomato) leaves and stem essential oils and scare off ticks. They are to be applied on skin and clothes. Lab tests show that the effectiveness of this product is not lower than that of DEET-based treatments (and in some cases its performance is even superior).

As the Department of Entomology of the University of North Carolina experts note“BioUD with the active ingredient 2-undecanone, originally derived from wild tomato plants, is a new repellent recently registered by the US EPA. Repellent efficacy of BioUD (7.75% 2-undecanone) and DEET (98.11%) was examined in the laboratory using a choice test between repellent-treated and control filter paper surfaces for Amblyomma americanum, Dermacentor variabilis, and Ixodes scapularis. BioUD provided greater repellency against A. americanum and I. scapularis than DEET. No difference was found between BioUD and DEET against D. variabilis.”

Such active ingredient, as Garlic Oil is made of garlic oil and is used to treat lawns and gardens and allows reducing the tick population by 59%. Its effectiveness peaks on the initial treatment, and so the scientists recommend using it for short-term only. A mix of essential oils (rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, mint, thyme and geraniol) also has repellent action. Such a mix can be applied on human skin or sprayed in the garden.

The specialists from Maine Medical Center Research Institute have tested IC2 containing 10% of rosemary oil and compared it to the synthetic bifenthrin. Within two weeks after spraying the lot with IC2 and bifenthrin, no ticks have been found while the lot treated with still water contained plenty of ticks carrying borreliosis. The main advantage of the product based on rosemary oil over bifenthrin lies in its safety.

Nootkatone, distilled from the Alaska yellow cedar essential oil, herbs and citrus plants, not only repels, but also kills ticks. The tests have proven that these relatively low-concentrated organic ingredients can be a potential alternative to synthetic repellents, such as DEET. Metarhizium brunneum/ anisopliae is made of wild fungi, is also able to kill ticks, but unlike Nootkatone, it can only be used to treat gardens and lawns.

Tick Protection from the Inside Out

There are many herbs you can use to repel ticks externally, but you may also be able to make yourself less appealing as a tick meal from the inside out by:

What is picaridin-based insect repellent?

Picaridin is a synthetic ingredient in lots of skin-applied insect repellents, and it has been on the market since the 1980s. Like DEET, it blocks insects’ smell sensors, making it hard for them to find exposed skin on your body. In the United States, picaridin has been available since 2005.

Since picaridin is odorless (or has a minimal odor) and doesn’t damage fabrics, it is suitable to use on clothes or other synthetics. It lasts up to eight hours and is as effective as DEET but not as oily.

Is it safe to use picaridin-based repellents?

Yes, picaridin is safe. It is rated as a “non-toxic” ingredient, which means that you can use it on your skin. Although it is uncommon, there are reports that some users experience skin irritation.

What if you ingest something that contains picaridin?

According to this study (held between January 2000 and May 2015), “Unintentional ingestion of picaridin-containing and other insect repellents was associated only with minor toxicity and was generally managed outside of a healthcare facility.”

Is it safe to use picaridin-based repellents on children?

Yes, you can use picaridin-based repellents on children. Currently, no studies have shown that it is unsafe to use picaridin for children. Keep in mind that according to the National Pesticide Information Center, infants and children may be more sensitive to pesticides. Also, it is unwise to use it on children younger than three years of age.

Does picaridin kill mosquitoes?

No, picaridin does not kill mosquitoes (or other insects). It blocks out the scent, making it harder for the insect to find exposed parts of our body.

What is the expiration date of picaridin-based repellents?

Like DEET-based repellents, picaridin-based repellents don’t have expiration dates; however, there is some reduction in the potency over time.

Does DEET prevent flea bites?

If you’ll be in an outdoor area where fleas are a problem, or if you’re in the middle of treating a flea infestation in your home, put on some bug spray with DEET. It’ll lower your chance of getting bit. … The best way to avoid that is to cover your skin and minimize your exposure to fleas.

How to dispose of insect repellents

The disposal of insect repellent depends on the type of container in which the repellent is sold.

If it’s a non-refillable container, empty it out before disposing of it (follow the instructions on the product label). For example, if it’s a non-aerosol spray, pour it into a jug of kitty litter, which can later be emptied in your regular trash. If the repellent cannot be emptied, contact your local waste agency. After that, recycle the empty bottle (if available).

How does Deet work?

Instead of killing mosquitos Deet works by making it hard for the bugs to smell you. DEET is one of the few registered pesticides that is applied directly to the skin and clothing.

The way DEET works is to prevent special receptors in the insects’ antennae from functioning normally so they cannot detect the presence of the host they are seeking to bite (J Pesticide Reform, 2005, Fall).

According to Consumer Reports tests, “the top six repellents protected against deer ticks and mosquitoes for seven hours or more.”

Is there any link between DEET and cancer?

There’s been concern about DEET as a potential cancer-causing chemical, mainly because it is a pesticide, but there hasn’t been a definite link in research. “Currently DEET is not classified as a carcinogen,” says. Rocio Salas-Whalen, MD, a New York City-based endocrinologist.

“According to the CDC, animal studies have not found an increase in tumors in research subjects who were given oral DEET tablets or who had it applied to their skin,” Dr. Salas-Whalen adds.

Active Ingredients of Tick Repellents: Advantages and Disadvantages

Substance Use Advantages Disadvantages
DEET For humans, is to be applied on skin and clothes Has been used for almost 70 years, is well-researched. Its effectiveness depends on concentration so you can find protection even in extreme conditions with plenty of insects. It is safe if used properly in moderate amount. Does not kill ticks, only repels them. Can cause side effect if concentrated highly. Can damage certain surfaces (e.g. plastic). Is more useful against mosquitoes than ticks.
Picaridin For humans, is to be applied on skin and clothes Has been researched for almost 30 years.  It does not smell and does not destroy the surfaces. Low-toxic, its effect lasts longer than that of DEET as it takes longer (up to 14 hours) to evaporate from the skin. Does not kill ticks, only repels them.
Permethrin For humans (to be applied on clothes only), dogs and garden) Kills and repels ticks. It acts quickly, effectively and lasts long (for weeks, even after washing). Does not damage tissue or synthetic surfaces. And does not leave any smells on dry clothes. Treated clothes require special handling. Is extremely toxic for fish, pollutes water. Use carefully near cats as it is extremely toxic for them as well.
IR3535 For humans, is to be applied on skin and clothes Toxicity tests have shown that IR3535 is harmless if ingested, inhaled or applied on skin. Is less effective than DEET and is the newest repelling substance (has been subject to research for less than 20 years).
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus For humans (to be applied on skin) The most natural and safest chemical repellent. Only repels ticks. Can compete with other chemical only if highly concentrated. Short-lasting effect.
2-Undecanone For humans, is to be applied on skin and clothes, and dogs A synthesized organic liquid that is considered safe. Only repels ticks. Can compete with other chemicals only if highly concentrated. Short-lasting effect and strong odor.
Garlic Oil For the garden Repels ticks and decreases their garden population 2x. Limited repelling action:  best effect seen after the first treatment. One-time control measure.
Mixed essential oils For humans, dogs and garden Natural and safe repellent. Limited repelling action. Use carefully on dogs if it contains eugenol.
IC2 (rosemary oil) For humans and garden Natural and safe repellent. Limited repelling action. Most helpful when combined with other active ingredients.
Nootkatone For humans, dogs and garden Natural substance that both repels and kills ticks. It is non-toxic to such an extent that it can even be ingested. Nootkatone-based repellents are not openly available for retail sale.

Whats the best way to use bug spray with DEET in it?

First and foremost, only apply bug spray to your clothes and any skin that’s exposed to the air. And it should be a given, but never spray it directly on your face (spray it on your hands first, says Dr. Sharma), to avoid risk of ingesting it.

DEET also can interact with sunscreen if you apply at the same time—the chemicals can be more easily absorbed by your system, says Dr. Sharma. He recommends waiting 30 minutes after applying sunscreen to apply bug spray.

Safe Tick Removal

If you notice a tick on your skin or in your hair it is important you know how to remove it safely to get the entire bug and avoid tick borne illness.

Here are the current recommendations for how to remove a tick safely from the CDC. Image and text courtesy of Tick Removal: How to Remove a Tick at

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of a live tick by using one of the following methods:
    • submersing it in alcohol
    • placing it in a sealed bag/container
    • wrapping it tightly in tape
    • flushing it down the toilet
    • burning

Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

Note: The longer the tick stays attached, the more opportunity there is for disease transmission.

Does Deet have no risks or side effects at all?

As with all substances, even the mildest, skin irritation may occur. We are all different. Obviously, accidents can happen. Breathing in or swallowing the bug spray can cause bug spray poisoning.

Off Insect Repellent

Off! has been my go-to bug repellent for many years because it works well. I recently ended up having a flea infestation and used up my last bottle of Off! (Off! keeps the fleas from biting me until they all die.) It was a bottle I’d had for awhile, so the product was unscented with almost 15% DEET.


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