My column which will appear in print this Sunday. I am a true crusader for this. Cannot understand why there hasn’t been more press about this holy grail for Lyme disease. Pic is of tick on my jacket last February before I discovered Permethrin.
By Bob Quarteroni
If I’d tried this last year, I’d have been covered with more ticks than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has ornaments.
What a difference a year makes, thanks to a product I can’t praise too highly.
A few days ago, I visited the Blakeslee Natural Area and walked from the parking area down to Tobyhanna Falls and back but not on the trail.
Rather, I stuck to the water’s edge and walked trampled down areas between the cowbane, ground nut, loosestrife and endless gasses, sedges and rushes.
The plants often came up to mid chest and at all times the path was narrow enough that I was being brushed by vegetation on both sides. In other words, tick paradise.
But when I finished the 2.2 miles I inspected myself and found exactly ZERO ticks on me.
Which just reinforced what I’ve been experiencing all year. Even though I spent three or four days a week in the woods all year long, since I started my new regimen in March I have not had a single tick on me.
The magic ingredient is permethrin, a form of an insecticide produced by the chrysanthemum flower.
It has been used as a clothing treatment to prevent bites from ticks, flies, and mosquitoes since the 1970s, and used by the military since the 1990s, but seems to be still largely unknown to the nature-loving public.
And that’s a shame because this stuff works wonders. A University of Rhode Island study found that people wearing permethrin-treated sneakers and socks were 73.6 times less likely to have a tick bite than those wearing untreated footwear.
The Centers for Disease Control has been conducting experiments testing the effects of permethrin-treated clothing against tick species known to transmit infection to humans and what they have found is nothing short of astonishing.
Results from the experiments showed that ticks “lost their ability to move after contact with permethrin-treated clothing and ‘posed no more than minimal risk of biting,’” according to Lars Eisen PhD, CDC research entomologist.
“All tested tick species and life stages experienced irritation — the ‘hot-foot’ effect — after coming into contact with permethrin-treated clothing,” he said. “This caused the ticks to drop off from a vertically oriented treated textile designed to mimic a pant leg or the arm of a shirt. We also found that sustained contact with permethrin-treated clothing — up to five minutes — resulted in loss of normal movement for all examined tick species and life stages, leaving them unable to bite.”
Permethrin is for clothing treatment only, not for use on skin.
You can buy permethrin-treated clothing — LL Bean sells a full line — but I find it far more economical to buy bottled permethrin – I get a 12-ounce spray bottle on Amazon for $9.97 — and treat my clothes ahead of time. And I cover everything: cap, shirt, pants, shoes and socks.
It is not only effective, it’s economical and inexpensive. One treatment is said to last through a least six washes or 42 days before it loses effectiveness and commercially treated clothes can last up to 70
That’s because the active ingredient binds to the fabric, which also eliminates the risk of over-exposure to the skin.
It is odorless and does not stain clothing. It is not toxic to dogs but is harmful to bees, fish and aquatic insects. Cats should not be allowed near permethrin-treated clothing until it has fully dried.
Some people may be wary of chemically treated clothes. But the amount of permethrin in clothing is very low.
According to Environmental Protection Agency, research indicates that permethrin is “poorly absorbed” through the skin, and there’s no evidence that treated clothing could be harmful to children or pregnant women.
An excellent permethrin fact sheet, by the National Pesticide Information Center, can be found at http://www.npic.orst.edu/factsheets/PermGen.html.