Ticks have increased dramatically throughout Ontario and Quebec this season; and so has the risk of Lyme disease. They were out early as well (thanks to global warming, once again). By the end of March, I started a routine tick check on me and my dog after spending time in the woods. I’m assuming I’ll be checking right up until the snow starts to fall and the ground starts to freeze.
A few months back I purchased a shirt from Mark’s Work Warehouse. The product is new to Canada and WindRiver was the first to produce clothing that contains Permethrin, a repellent that affects the insect’s nervous system, and basically keeps them away from you, or when an insect comes into contact, it's essentially stunned and falls off. The company has labelled the fabric No Fly Zone®—an odourless and invisible treatment that remains effective for 70 washes. It took Health Canada a decade to give approval to Mark’s to sell a brand of permethrin-treated clothing (made in North Carolina). Now they are recommending it.
I’ve been wearing my Mark’s shirt throughout the summer. It works against mosquitoes and ticks. It’s also well-made (and I bought it at 50 per cent off). However, I really found it way too hot in the summer heat due to its second layer inner lining. I’m guessing the liner is placed there to separate the treated fabric from your skin. it might be a good shoulder season shirt, but I wouldn’t bother after temperatures reach late 20 degrees Celsius.
There is also a Permethrin spray that’s rumoured to now be available in Canada—but I’ve yet to see it being sold in any outdoor stores. You apply it to clothing, tents, sleeping bags… it’s very common in the U.S. I do know that campers buy a similar spray from farming supply stores for use on pets and livestock, and they dilute it with water. I’m not sure how safe they would be.
I ended up going back to my basics. I started using more Ben’s Tick Repellent. It works, and it’s available in outdoor stores and larger superstores like Walmart. I just spray it on my clothes before heading out. I spent 18 days camping in southwestern Ontario through June and July. Not one tick embedded itself in my skin. They were definitely there though. My poor dog suffered.
The repellent contains 20 per cent Picaridin formula, EPA-registered active ingredient. I’m not too familiar with the recipe but it does say on the bottle that it’s “a family-friendly formula.” I sprayed it on my ankles, boots and shirt collar. The spray nozzle is very handy, and the company claims that the non-greasy formula won't damage sunglasses, rain jackets, plastics or other synthetic materials. They also claim that it lasts 12 hours, and I’d have to agree with that. I did a hike pretty much each day, through grassy fields and thick forests. I also camped every night. There was definitely lots of places for ticks to lie in wait. I never had to pull one tick out of me the entire time!
I still perform regular tick checks. That’s crucial in heavily tick infested areas. It's best to use the buddy system for this. Of course, make sure you know your partner well. Ticks love dark and moist places on your body to attach themselves to; places like armpits, bellybutton holes, and, you guessed it, your crotch.