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eisely

Tick Repellant Anyone?

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Now that hiking and backpacking season are upon us, I am interested in people's views as to the most effective, least dangerous, and least damaging ways of keeping ticks off one's body. Open to suggestions.

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All the other members of my family work in the tree and landscape business, outdoors all the time. And they suggest to me, as is their policy in the business, that the only effective stuff is that which has DEET in it. But even then, clothing should be appropriate to the location, the color should be light so that the ticks show up, cuffs should be tucked into socks, and a whole body check should be done once or twice a day.

 

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My only comment is that children should not use a repellant with a DEET content > 10%. But everything I have read has shown that DEET is the MOST effective insect repellant available.

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Y'all are going to love this one.

 

Sulpher repells everything.

Down here in the south many water sources contain sulpher. I grew up drinking well water with a sulpher content and I live just off of the Intracostal Waterway, a salt marsh and bug heaven. When you sweat your body excretes the sulpher. Bugs will not mess with you or at least not as many will mess with you. Ehrn friends would come over the bugs would tear into them and leave me alone. When they finally put in water lines to my nieghborhood the bugs lit me up!

 

So I did a little experiment. I started drinking the Sulper water again. Guess what. The bugs backed off again.

 

After a few years of messing around this is what I came up with.

If you have a scientific supply company around, go get some powdered Sulpher. Put some sulpher in an old athletic sock and tie the open end shut. When you are going out knock the sock against our ankles and lower legs and it will distribute a coating of powder. This method works very well to discourage ticks and is used at several nature centers in the south.

 

I also know a fellow lives out west near Yellowstone. Last summer he got some citronella plants (you can get those at your nearest nursery) crushed them and put the pulp and juice into a squirt bottle. When he got to the park he filled the bottle with sulpher water from one of the hot springs and mixed the contents. He reported having absolutely no problems with bugs for a week but dogs and small children avoided his smell afterwards.

 

After being in the woods you will stink anyway, might as well not be scratching.

 

BTW- DEET is a VERY dangerous chemical and you can easily develop a variety of skin conditions and poisionings due to use. If does work but be VERY careful with the application and NEVER rub it into your skin.

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I recall using sulphur powder as a kid as a chigger repellant. I also recall that it worked. When I put up the original post I was wondering if anyone had experience with sulphur as a tick repellant. Concerning DEET, I also understand that it attacks many synthetic fabrics. Anybody have any experience with that?

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Eisely, you asked about DEET and synthetics. I have never had any problem with DEET in insect repellant when used sparingly. However, I learned a lot about it on a backpack trip to the Brooks Range in Alaska many years ago. I had several small plastic bottles of insect repellant in an outer pouch of my backpack, along with other small pieces of equipment. On the plane flight to Fairbanks, my fork punctured one of the bottles, and it leaked into the pouch. The coated nylon kept it contained and the pouch was ok, but all plastic in the pouch, including my compass and plastic eating utensils, were melted into a blob of plastic! I decided that if the stuff would do that to my gear, I had better use it lightly on me.

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Like I said, sulpher repels everything. Ticks, chiggers, mosquitos; it works very well.

 

DEET you just have to be careful with. It does attack the coatings on fabrics, most notably the waterproofing found on most raingear. Just keep it away from plastics and plastic coatings.

 

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Mike,

 

This is gonna sound silly, but for the uneducated (unejikatid), all I remember from chemistry class and working on cars (catalytic converters) was the rotten egg smell associated with sulphur. Is there any smell associated with the stuff you're talking about? Would one be likely to not only keep the bugs away, but our own species, too? Or, when in the woods, doesn't that metter?:-)

 

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As Ed McMahon would say...."You are correct sir!"

 

Yep, that's the stuff.

Rotten egg smell = Sulpher.

I don't remember the powder having a strong smell one way or the other though.

 

This method does require some experimentation and I really can't give you any percentages to work with (don't have my notes anymore)

 

In my opinion, it doesn't matter what I smell like in the woods, and I think off the shelf bug sprays stink real bad too.

 

I personally don't use bug spray except when the bugs are really bad. Bug sprays form a film on me and don't let me sweat so I can't cool down. Being in Florida that's extremely uncomfortable.

 

If anyone does attempt this method please post your results here. I'd like to know if it worked for you too.

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Hmmm. Dealing with bugs and dealing with bears can create conflicts. We always place all "smellables" in bear bags, canisters, or lockers. At Philmont they advise using no sun screen or bug repellant on one's body after about 3:00 PM. I wonder if sulpher attracts or repels bears?

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Good question. I've been thinking about that myself.

 

I guess the best people to ask would be Rangers at Yellowstone or anyplace that has bears and sulpherous water. If bears avoid the area and the water it would SEEM to indicate that at the very least they are not attracted to it.

 

I sure don't want to find out the hard way.

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Mike,

 

The fact that you have used sulpher in back country inhabited by bears and have lived to tell about it suggests that maybe it makes no difference. A sample of one is better than no sample at all.

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My lovely and talented wife, (the one who did better in chemistry class) informed me that Sulphur does not have a smell. However, Sulphur Dioxide does and that is the stuff that keeps the bugs away.

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Did she also tell you that neither you nor I know how to spell sulfur correctly?

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