Commentary: Give Deets a chance?
One of the only things more beautiful than the New England fall is the New England spring. And this year, with a winter steeped in heavy snow storms and high winds, it could not come quick enough. Even before our bodies had a chance to adjust to daylight savings, warm weather rushed in; the ground thawed; and the ticks woke up to threaten us once again.
In many areas, deer culling has been adopted as the tick management of choice. Unfortunately, the ticks haven’t become any less ravenous with fewer deer. Instead, they must look for alternate blood meals. The only other tall prey to likely brush up against the tall grass where ticks loiter is us and our pets. This means that we need to take extra precautions protecting ourselves and our families.
The easiest and most common way to protect ourselves is with insect repellent and pet collars. Over 200 insect repellents are sold in the US with DEET; an effective oil-based repellent that confuses the insect by appearing to be an extra layer between the insect and your skin. Unfortunately, it is also known to cause brain cell damage with excessive use. Warning: deet based repellents should never be applied to the skin of an infant.
This raises quite a dilemma. Is it safer to expose yourself to the Lyme bacteria, which is now believed to be passed by fleas, mosquitoes, mites and biting flies in addition to ticks, or risk the irreversible damage posed by Deet?
Even with occasional usage, I would be wary of using Deet-based products. If the public is aware of the dangers, then what other dangers are out there that we do not know? And does anyone really know all the potential dangers? There is never just one cockroach; unless Deet killed the others.
Maybe not as effective as Deet, other less harmful and natural repellents exist. One made from picaridan and oil lemon eucalyptus is widely used in Europe. For more information visit: http://www.picaridin.com/
Stay safe and enjoy the weather.