The tick problem though, feels overwhelming and insurmountable. Despite all my best efforts, I have a 100% infection rate for Lyme in my herd, in my dog and I have had two other instances of tick borne disease other than Lyme. The two severe Lyme outbreaks that I have had have cost me over $5000 in vet bills and nearly cost Ben his life earlier this year.
I have become downright obsessive about ticks and I would would call my worry about them and their diseases paranoia except that every time I lay hands on a donkey, I find more of the horrible things.
How does that old saying go?
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one is out to get you.
In my never ending quest for tick eradication, I have tried every kind of repellent I could think of, from organic to nuclear. None have worked well, but some have done more than others. Lately, I have been using a concoction that includes portions of the most successful repellents mixed together and it is, so far, the most effective bug dope I have used yet. The concoction is a hybrid mix of lethal and organic and the combination seems to work better than either alone.
I start with a product called Ultra Boss, which is a super concentrated permethrin insecticide. If used as directed, it can only be used once every two weeks, even though it never works for more than a few days. It also tends to cause skin irritation in sensitive animals. It was something I had considered to be a failure for treating anything other than lice.
I use one horse-sized dose as a concentrate that I dilute with water.
To this mix I add 5-6 drops of pure geranium oil.
Because the UltraBoss and the geranium oil are both oils, they do not mix with the water. To make them mix better, I add about a teaspoon of Lysol. This also acts as a mild disinfectant and helps heal bug bites. Do not be tempted to use more as it could cause skin irritation if you do. More is NOT better with any of these.
The concoction mixes best if you make it up the day before and let it sit overnight, but that is not absolutely necessary. Shake the bottle continuously as you spray it on your critter. I use it 2-3 times per week for tick control and daily when the flies are really bad.
This "recipe" is truly a concoction born of need and was made out of ingredients I had at hand in a moment of desperation. None of these ingredients had ever worked well on their own (except that I sometimes use the Lysol to treat thrush, it works fairly well for that). However, I went from finding 20-30 ticks per day to finding 1-2 ticks per week after I came up with this.
It is not perfect (nothing is), but it is the best tick defense I have come up with yet. It is also easy to use and cheap since the ingredients are so concentrated, one bottle of each will last the whole year.