New products from blankets to insecticides provide tick protection

Sitting at my desk this morning, beginning to write this column about products that protect us from deer ticks, I felt something on my leg under my pajamas. Pulling up the right leg of the pajamas, sure enough, there was a deer tick, making his way up my leg!

Did it know I was writing about it? I carefully picked it off my leg, transported it outside, and crushed it between two rocks.

Tick removal is almost an everyday task these days. So I’ve been collecting products that promise some relief and protection from ticks.

Blankets

SONY DSCOne of the most impressive is the Insect Shield blanket. Just as advertised, it “offers built-in, odorless and effective insect protection.” It can be washed and requires no special care. It comes in two sizes, and the Outdoor blanket that I have is huge, 56 inches by 74 inches, but very light (18 ounces). It’s even good looking. Ours is a nice shade of red. It sells for $29.95. The smaller blanket, 28 inches by 36 inches, can be purchased for $15.95.

Our blanket is big enough for a family picnic, and provides excellent cover while sitting outside. It’s available at amazon.com, at many retail stores, and at www.insectshield.com, where more information is also available.

We now pack the blanket with our gear on travel column visits around the state.

Modern Pest Services

I’m generally leery of spraying chemicals all over the house and yard to keep the bugs away, but an infestation of fleas summer before last resulted in a series of visits by Modern Pest Services, a company that continues to serve us. They got rid of the fleas and return every three months to visually check for them and other bugs and rodents. The young fellow who serves us is an avid sportsman, and I enjoy talking hunting and fishing with him as he does his inspections which are very thorough.

I bought three of their enclosed boxes, filled with poison, and placed them strategically outside during spring, summer, and fall, and in the basement in the winter.

The boxes have eliminated my annual fall and winter battle with mice. One winter I caught 38 mice in the basement and throughout the house. Thanks to the boxes, this winter I caught just four mice, all in the basement.

Of course, our cat isn’t having as much fun. But he doesn’t wake us up anymore in the night, chasing mice around the dining room.

The mice enter the box, chow down on the poison, and then exit, expiring a short time later. Most of the time, we’re lucky enough that they die outside. Trust me, you’ll know if they die someplace inside! Just hope it is not in an inaccessible place. Oh well, the smell only lasts a week or so!

Insecticides

Modern Pest Services offers regular spraying of yards with insecticides, but I’ve been reluctant to start down that road – and because I wander far and wide, most of my ticks are picked up elsewhere – especially on my hunting and fishing adventures.

NaturecideBut I was intrigued by an advertisement for Nature-Cide insecticides and procured 32 ounce bottles of Flea & Tick Insecticide and All Purpose Insecticide. Nature-Cide offers quite a few products, including one for Bed Bugs (thank goodness that’s a bug we have not encountered yet, either at home or on our travel column visits).

I got the mist spray application, making it easy to use. The instructions for the Flea & Tick Insecticide assure that the spray, “is safe to apply to furniture, floors, pet beds and directly on pet’s fur.”  You spray it on your pet and massage it into the coat.

The All Purpose Insectide should be sprayed in the places where insects and pests frequent. It doesn’t stain, can even be sprayed on counter tops, and kills the buggers on contact.

And here’s the information that was most important to me. These products are made from “natural essential oils and inerts…” and “are harmless to people, plants, children and pets.” The active ingredients in the two sprays I have are clove and cottonseed oil, with a very small proportion of glycerin, myristic acid, soap and water.

Along with the products I got a package of news stories and columns about Nature-Cide’s products, used in everything from hydroponic gardens, to home spas. Lots of information is available at www.nature-cide.com.

I’ve just begun to apply the sprays, and so far so good. They are certainly easy to use.

Ticked-Off Spoons

I’ve written about this a lot, and work it into most of my public talks. Last Thursday night, at Longfellow Books in Portland, I talked about and signed copies of my new book, A Life Lived Outdoors, published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth.

tick removerThe title certainly describes my life, much of which was lived during a time when ticks were not an issue in Maine. I urged those in attendance to get some of those plastic spoons with a slit in them, to easily remove embedded ticks.

You can buy them in bulk, at a very reasonable price, from the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine in Augusta. Select “store” at their website, www.swoam.org, for several tick removal products. You can buy 4 of the spoons for $10.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.