Posts Tagged ‘insect repellant’

Preventing Lyme Disease

Mark your calendars for an engaging evening with Captain Richard Phillips presented by Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod  on April 18 @ 6:00pm.  He’ll be speaking at the Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center on Cape Cod about his life experiences and the dangers he faced on the high seas with Somali pirates.  Following the talk is a dinner at the Yarmouth House along with a meet and greet and book signing by Capt. Phillips of his book “A Captains Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS,and Dangerous Days at Sea”.  Tickets for talk only are $25.00 and available on line at www.lymeticks.org or at the Brewster Book Store, $30.00 at the door.  

 

Watch out -deer ticks are here!  My cousins and I were enjoying a beautiful Easter walk in the woods and near the marshes on Cape Cod when we discovered several deer ticks.  Already? Yes!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is one of the fastest spreading infectious diseases in the United States.

English: National Lyme disease risk map with 4...

English: National Lyme disease risk map with 4 categories of risk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deer ticks in the Northeast carry the illness, where 90% of all US cases are reported.  Lyme disease has become more prevalent partly because suburban neighborhoods have expanded into wooded areas where ticks thrive.  Deer ticks are carried by deer, mice and pets and are about the size of a poppy seed. If a tick bites you, remove it right away, identify it and have it tested if you suspect a deer tick. One in four nymphal deer ticks can infect you with some kind of disease if they feed for more than 24 hours.  (Some sources think they only have to  be attached for as little as two hours to transmit the disease.)

Ticks

Ticks (Photo credit: Kriatyrr)

 

I had Lyme disease a few year ago and was the sickest I had ever been with a severe headache, joint pain, high fever and flu-like symptoms.  I was one of the lucky ones however, with a defining bull’s eye rash and was able to get on antibiotics right away, which cured it.  But many people don’t get the rash and it’s easy to confuse body aches and fevers with other diseases. The blood tests are often inaccurate too; you can still have Lyme disease even with a negative blood test.

English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a...

English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a “bull’s-eye” from Lyme disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

As with anything else, prevention is your best medicine.

What you can do to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease:

  • Avoid being bitten by a tick, which is most plentiful where woodlands transition into fields, meadows or yards.
  • Avoid tall grasses.
  • Avoid deer paths in the woods, which are usually loaded with ticks.
  • Avoid places where mice are abundant like leaf litter, woodpiles, mulch beds, gardens, rock walls.
  • When you are in high tick area, wear light-colored clothing to spot them easier.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants with your pants tucked into your socks when working outside or hiking in tick-infested areas.
  • Use insect repellant; clothes can be sprayed directly.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Always do tick checks after being outside in a high deer tick area.  Magnifying glasses help with spotting deer ticks.
  • Shower after being in a tick-infested area.
  • Putting your clothes in a dryer at high heat for 35 minutes will kill ticks.  Most ticks are very sensitive to heat.
  • Take garlic supplements daily to help repel insects and ticks.
  • Treat pets to minimize risk. Pets can get Lyme disease too and bring ticks into the house.

Cultural Practices you can do in your yard to help eliminate ticks:

  • Mow along boundary lines of your yard.
  • Treat your yard with a professional spray or do it yourself.
  • Keep grass mowed regularly.
  • Install a low brick wall where your yard ends and woods begin.
  • In high tick areas, get guinea hens – they eat deer tick.

Visit Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod for more detailed  information.  The University of Rhode Island has a comprehensive website as well.   tickencounter.org

Lyme disease is a dreadful disease and left untreated can cause chronic major problems seriously affecting your health.  Early diagnosis and proper treatment can help cure you.

Be vigilant and don’t let ticks ruin your summer!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Have a Green Memorial Day This Year!

English: Barbecue Bosanski: Roštilj Deutsch: Grill

English: Barbecue Bosanski: Roštilj Deutsch: Grill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Memorial Day weekend, make your cookout eco-correct.  How?  It’s easy….

Think outside the burgers/hot dogs/potato chips box and focus on healthier options instead – turkey tips, wild fish, grilled tofu, grilled veggies, grass-fed beef, free range chicken, sweet potato chips and lots of different salads made with organic fruits and vegetables.  Farmer’s markets aren’t up and running yet, but you can still buy fresh, seasonal, and somewhat local fruits and vegetables. Perhaps you have lettuce ready for harvesting from your own garden.  Add delicious and nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which may also help ward off sunburn!

When it comes to grilling, a charcoal chimney is an easy way to start your grill and much safer than lighter fluid if you don’t have a gas grill.  Make sure you use natural, hardwood charcoal instead of the conventional briquettes.  Try filling at least half your grill with produce.  Produce is not only healthy and low-calorie, but also doesn’t produce the carcinogens that can form on grilled meats.  Always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring; flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens.  Marinating or basting with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce will provide a barrier and help prevent charring.

I prefer reusable dinner plates and utensils, but if you are having a crowd disposable is easier; just make sure they are compostable or made from recycled, BPA-free plastic.  Whole Foods carries a good selection of biodegradable disposable plates, cups and utensils.  Cloth tablecloths and napkins are a nice touch, but you can easily find recycled paper napkins and cloths at most supermarkets.

Organic, chemical free sunscreen and insect repellents are a much healthier and safer alternative to conventional products.  Consider spraying your yard in advance with a garlic spray to ward off mosquitoes. Start your cookout after peak sun time, between 10 and 2, and provide shade for your guests.

Organize activities to get your guests moving and not eating and drinking so much.  If your cookout is near the water, swimming and kayaking are fun. If not, set up a volleyball/badminton net and get the teens involved in a tournament.  Croquet appeals to all ages and a nature walk or an outside scavenger hunt is a great way to get the kids interested in the outdoors.

Compost leftover fruits and vegetables, and, don’t forget to recycle cans, bottles and other recyclable items!

Whatever you do to honor the start of summer, make sure you are good to the earth.

Don’t Throw Away Your Coffee Grounds!

Coffee grounds, fine, wet.

Coffee grounds, fine, wet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you pour your coffee grounds down the disposal, read this blog and find out what you can do instead with this versatile, nutrient-rich leftover.

  1. Neutralize odors in your refrigerator or freezer with dried grounds.
  2. Repel insects by mounding the grounds into a protective ring around plants that will ward off ants, snails and slugs.
  3. When you clean your fireplace, sprinkle damp grounds on the ashes to cut down on airborne dust.
  4. Scrub hands with grounds to act as an exfoliant and eliminate food smells like fish and garlic.  Grounds are also a good cellulite reducer (see recipe below).
  5. A few teaspoons placed on a thin rag can be used to clean grease and grime from dishware.
  6. Steep grounds in hot water to make a natural dye for Easter eggs or fabric.
  7. For a non-toxic cockroach trap, fill a can with an inch or so of wet grounds and line the neck with extra-sticky double-sided tape.  The scent draws the roaches into the trap.
  8. Add some grounds to your potting soil to give plants and seedlings a nitrogen boost.  They may repel root maggots too!
  9. Coffee grounds dabbed on scratches in dark wood furniture will minimize them.  Use a cotton swab to apply and add a bit of liquid; try a test area first.
  10.  Coffee grounds are a nutritious addition to your compost pile!

Companies are doing interesting things with recycled coffee grounds.  Moving Comfort, an athletic gear company, uses recycled coffee grounds in a fabric called S. Cafe to absorb odors. My husband’s company, Boston Tree Preservation, has an arrangement with Boston Bean Coffee Company to recycle their spent coffee pods. The pods are fed to the worms in the worm farm;  the worm castings are then used to make a rich, nutritious compost tea which is sprayed on customers’ trees as an organic fertilizer, natural fungicide and pest deterrent.

Recipe for Coffee Ground Exfoliant

 (from livestrong.com)

 Since coffee grounds are course, they are a natural exfoliant.  They also contain caffeic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects on the skin and stimulates collagen production.

Mix 1 cup warm coffee grounds with 1/2-cup sugar, then add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Rub the mixture all over your skin, especially rough areas such as elbows and feet. If you do this in the shower, put a mesh sink strainer in the drain. Otherwise, the coffee grounds could clog the drain.  You can also just use the coffee grounds to exfoliate.

Information compiled from thisoldhouse.com March 2012 and curbly.com.

THE DREADED DEER TICK

Image by life_through_a_viewfinder Jeremy Flickr.com

My husband and I took a beautiful walk through the woods last weekend.    The leaves were lovely shades of yellow and red and the temperature was perfect.  Then, I noticed several ticks on our pants and coats, and of course on our dog.  Nothing can ruin a walk faster than ticks!

Wood ticks are larger than deer ticks, and can be easily spotted and removed.  A mature deer tick however, measures about half the size of a wood tick and is harder to see.  They often carry Lyme disease and should be removed right away.  Infections peak during May, June and July.

Deer ticks are found in wooded areas and prefer to feed upon deer. The ticks wait on leaves and grass blades and attach themselves to any passing host they find. Humans often become accidental hosts of deer ticks.

What you can do to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease?

  • Avoid tall grasses
  • Avoid deer paths
  • Wear light colored clothing to spot them more easily
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and pants tucked into your socks
  • Use insect repellant
  • Do tick checks with a magnifying glass
  • Shower after being in an infected area
  • Put your clothes in a hot dryer for 35 minutes
  • Take garlic supplements to repel insects
  • Treat pets to repel ticks and minimize their risk
  • Keep grass mowed regularly and along boundary lines of your yard
  • Get some guinea hens – they eat ticks, beetles and other garden insect pests

In addition you can treat your yard proactively in spring and early summer with organic tick control products such as pyrethrum, soap, Neem, garlic, and red pepper wax.  There are companies who offer organic tick control service. Visit bostontreepreservation.com for information.

For those readers who want to avoid chemical insect repellants for their pets, you can try a garlic powder and yeast supplement for pets.  Arbico Organics carries a good tasting one that is also good for the pet’s coat. The supplement probably works better for fleas than ticks. Never give a dog or cat raw onion or garlic however – they are toxic to animals.   One of my readers finds Diatomaceous earth quite effective as a tick repellant for her dogs.

Information compiled from Orkin.com, and “Lyme Disease and associated diseases: The Basics”, by Douglas W. Fearn