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A few drops of Tea Tree Oil rubbed on clothing or thinly applied to lower legs can provide protection from ticks. But how does tea tree oil repel ticks? Tea tree oil is an extract obtained from the Australian tea tree, it is a mixture of approx. 100 substances, the oil has a very strong smell.
Does tea tree oil repel ticks?
Most parasites avoid the smell of essential oils as it irritates their senses and interferes with their metabolism when they come into contact with it. These properties of the tea tree oil are very disturbing for insects and give the oil its mosquito and tick repelling effect.
What is Tea tree oil?
As mentioned above, tea tree oil is an extract from the tea tree. The tea tree is a native plant to Australia’s swampy forests around Queensland in Western Australia. Parasites and fungi thrive in those moist wetlands so plants produce natural biocides to repel insects, parasites and fungi.
The leaves and the bark of the tea tree have long been used by the Australian Aborigines to treat minor skin irritation and to keep parasites from the skin and hair. Today the essential oil is used as an effective remedy for many ailments.
The disinfectant, antibacterial, antiviral and fungicidal effects of tea tree oil help the body fight and relieve the symptoms of skin diseases. Besides working as a repellent against mites, ticks, fleas, and lice, those unwanted visitors can also be eliminated using tea tree oil.
Extraction of Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is extracted from the small elongated leaves of the Tea Tree (botanical name Melaleuca alternifolia) by using steam distillation.
There are over 100 different substances that work together in tea tree oil and give the oil its biocidal properties that are effective against insects and ticks.
The oil consists largely of the terpenes (a type of essential oil): Terpinen-4-ol, α-terpinene, and cineole. The latter is considered an impurity. The level of cineole is low in high-quality tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is inexpensive and non-toxic when used externally as recommended. It must NOT be taken internally and is NOT recommended for children. Always read the label and use tea tree oil only as recommended.
Tea tree oil, a natural way to repel ticks
The many natural ingredients of Tea Tree Oil make it an excellent alternative to the synthetically produced agents for insects and ticks defense. With Tea tree oil you may reduce the risk of tick bite in a natural way. The strong smell of Tea tree oil does repel ticks and keeps mosquitoes away.
Attention: There are recommendations to put a drop of tea tree oil onto a tick, before pulling it out. DO NOT DO THAT!
DO NOT try to remove a tick that is already feeding by putting tea tree oil on it. This may trigger a shock in the tick, which leads to increased salivation and the potential transfer of bacteria or viruses.
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How to Use Tea Tree Oil
- Helps to soothe minor skin irritations
- Soothes itchy insect bites
- A few drops of tea tree oil in shampoo to fight lice naturally
- Add a few drops in the pets’ crate to keep fleas away and as a natural way to repel ticks
- Use as a natural way to repel ticks and molds
- For external use NOT to be taken internally
Sparingly rub a few drops of tea tree on the skin to repel ticks and other blood-sucking bugs. Also, apply below knee height on pants to provide an additional barrier against ticks.
However, as with nearly all natural tick repellents or homemade remedies against tick, none are as effective as chemically manufactured substances like DEET or Picaridin. People often fear potential side effects from chemical repellents but many of the natural repellents also may have side effects.
See our pick of the 5 most popular tick repellents
Home Made Tea Tree Tick Repellent Recipe
Tea tree oil should not be applied directly to the skin in large amounts. A drop on an insect bite to stop the itch is fine. But concentrated amounts may cause irritation. To use tea tree oil as a repellent it is best to dilute it in a mixture using a skin-friendly base oil like Jojoba or Coconut oil.
To rub on: Use coconut oil, jojoba, or avocado oil as a base oil for natural homemade insect protection. Take a cup of the base oil and mix properly with about 10 to 20 drops of tea tree oil. Rub onto skin if necessary. Don’t use it in your face and don’t get anything into your eyes. Remember to use a glass container to store your tick repellent.
As a spray: Mix half a cup of water with half a cup of rubbing alcohol and ten to twenty drops of tea tree oil. Fill the ingredients into a cleaned spray bottle and shake vigorously until everything has mixed together. Spray directly onto the skin, make sure nothing gets into your face and into the eyes. If you prefer to avoid alcohol, you can use witch hazel water.
Does tea tree oil repel ticks on a dog?
In dogs, tea tree oil is not considered toxic but may be irritating or allergenic in very rare cases. Tea tree oil must only be used externally on a dog, so only apply it to a place where the dog can not lick it. To repel ticks, put 2 or 3 drops in the neck of the dog, just as recommended with conventional spot-on.
Make a tick collar using tea tree oil
Make your own tick collar to keep annoying parasites away from your pet. To make one for a large adult dog, first mix 1 teaspoon of almond oil or jojoba oil with 1 quart of water. Add 5 drops of tea tree oil to this mixture. Then you take a cotton or nylon cloth and soak it in this mixture. Hang to dry. Wait for it to dry before putting it on the dog. Dilute more for smaller dogs and cats. Do not use on Cats!
You can fortify your regular dog shampoo by adding 6-10 drops of tea tree oil to every 2 oz. of shampoo. Wash your pet with this mixture ensuring that it gets into all areas where ticks are likely to hide for example behind the ears, under the tail, and in the armpits. You should let the pet soak in the shampoo for 10 minutes before drying up the excess. There are also ready-made pet shampoos available that contain Tea tree oil.
Cats and Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is toxic to cats. It must NOT be used on cats.
Since cats are very clean animals and permanently groom all parts of their bodies, tea tree oil would get into their digestive tract. Tea tree oil contains terpenes and phenols, among other things. These are substances that the cat’s metabolism cannot digest or break down. As a result, they build up in the cat’s body and cause poisoning that can kill the cat.
Only a few natural repellents that contain essential oils may be used on cats, more effective and safer are synthetic spot-on repellents especially made and approved for cats.
In rare cases, Tea tree oil may cause skin irritation. To check for a reaction before use, do a patch test first. For that, you need to apply a very small amount to the skin inside your elbow area to test for any reaction. If a rash occurs consult your healthcare professional.
Tea tree oil is for external use only.
Avoid contact with eyes. Keep out of reach of children. If pregnant, consult with your doctor before use.
Use only as recommended and DO NOT take tea tree oil orally.