In the Woods (with the ticks)

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In these early weeks of warm weather, my kids have been spending much of their time in the woods. The girls have an elaborate new “home” complete with guest accommodations. We’ve all been playing along (and in) a small creek in the woods, my little boys typically ending up head to toe mud. I ordered some woodland flowers and have been planting them here and there. (I have ordered from two different licensed nurseries on ebay: this one and this one.) Exploring these new to us woods in spring is my favorite activity right now. I try to take a walk everyday to see what has changed and what is blooming. I’m spending lots of time with this field guide.

We are already finding ticks, and quite a few of them. I guess that’s expected after such a mild winter. The good news is that I made a tick repellent spray using 1/3 cup water, 1T witch hazel, and about 45 drops of rose geranium oil, and while I hesitate to say so, it seems to be working. I’ve been using it all week and haven’t found any ticks on myself. Those who haven’t remembered to spray themselves have still been finding ticks. That’s part of the trick, remembering to actually use the spray! We’ve got to make it a habit, all of us. Jonny sprayed some on his arm and then placed a tick in his hand and let it start crawling. As it approached the sprayed area it literally dropped to the floor. Could be coincidence, but we didn’t get a chance to retest, because Jonny accidentally smashed the tick when he picked it up off the floor. I’m just glad to have something natural to try, that seems to be helping so far. I’m thinking of making soap and body butter for my kids scented with rose geranium oil too!

If you have any natural tick repellent tips, please share…

p.s. Mabel’s hat is from Nova Natural. It’s great because it is made of lightweight wool, stays on, and keeps her neck warm too.


  1. Hello, lovely. We’re had a really good response from the sulphur protocol. I feel like I may have mentioned this to you on the phone at some point, but maybe I just meant to. I wrote about it here:


  2. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I just found a tick on Bracken yesterday and came here today to jot down the recipe!

  3. indeed thanks for the recipe, Ginny !
    do you think it would work for lice, too ?

  4. I love the pictures Ginny…….Beautiful! The house the girls built is so cool & I love seeing the kids getting dirty. Took me down memory lane there were a few timesi remember after a rain walking my kiddos in the neighborhood jumping in mud puddles and the laughter was contagious!

  5. Oh my word, these pictures. Mabel. 💗

  6. Gonna get me a Miss Mabel hat for my baby Ida! I love it xx

  7. We use lemon eucalyptus with witch hazel for mosquito repellent, but I don’t know if it repels ticks.

  8. I was just telling myself I really have to figure out a tick repellent soon! My husband and I just watched all the deer traipse on the edge of our yard into the woods. They are so beautiful, but now my stomach goes in knots. My poor daughter has been suffering badly from Lyme for 2 and 1/2 years (undiagnosed until a month ago) and she is taking 11 different meds a day (25 pills!-herbals, vitamins and prescriptions included, from the doc) now to beat the Lyme. Do indeed fight those little stinkers at all costs, this is no fun and she suffers a lot. The dog got it last year, it should have given me a clue to re-test my daughter. You are always so timely with your posts, Ginny. Thank you again. I was praying God thanking him so much for your beautiful family. You are such a gift to us.

  9. Love your sweet baby looking up at the trees. A pretend “house” in the woods is such a wonderful thing…..your girls are looking like they love it.

  10. We have success with using Doterra TerraShield oil for both ticks and mosquito bites. It can be diluted down, but I put it on full strength on my pulse points. I also put it down the spine of our dog (who is out in the grass and sage all the time on the ranch) and she very rarely will have or bring ticks indoors.
    I will be trying your recipe as well!
    Beautiful photography which will make wonderful memories for your family in the future!

  11. we had a couple years that were horrible for ticks. every time my husband took our wee dog out for a walk one or both came back with at least one. just from walking thru our back grass! i made a spray of geranium oil too and it does the trick! thanks for the reminder, its warming up here too and i need to make a new bottle

  12. sounds like your experiment is working! the nighttime or twilight photos are beautiful Ginny!

  13. Beautiful photos! We live on a similar plot of land, although in Germany. Unfortunately we have lots of ticks as well! Two years ago I started to rub organic coconut oil in our dogs fur daily and they have almost no ticks at all. It works for people as well 🙂 Since I detest the smell of geranium oil, we are sticking to the coconut oil, a little on the legs and arms seems to do the trick.

  14. Wow, I love Larkspur’s and Beatrix’s house in the woods! Makes me want to come over and join the fun!
    I think it’s awesome that you’re not letting a fear of ticks get in the way of everyone’s nature play, by the way.
    Once my family and I go camping again, I might try out your tick repellent recipe, so thanks for that!

    On a side note: I started reading your blog when Job was a newborn, just a couple months old, so every time I see a picture of him now I am surprised by how “big” he is! 🙂

    Enjoy exploring the rest of the woods!

  15. Richard (in Charlotte, NC) says:

    Oh, forgot to say thank you for the links to the eBay licensed nurseries!

  16. Richard (in Charlotte, NC) says:

    What splendid woodland accommodations! Your girls have gone all out. Have you tried making your own scented oil from the Elaeagnus flowering shrub that you show in your photos? You certainly have an abundance with which to experiment. Boys will be boys; they remind me of how I played in and around the creeks in my parents neighborhood. Congratulations on your new property.

  17. Amber seems to be the thing for dogs around here, so I started putten the ambernecklaces we had left from teething around my kids again during summer time. Maybe something to try. Love from Germany Kristin

  18. Always enjoy your blog and pictures.
    For what it’s worth – Face book showed a video of using peppermint oil on an embedded tick and it backed out in just a few seconds.
    Glad you found a repellent.

  19. Ticks. We learned all about them when we moved to the Midwest. My preteen daughter announced she had a cool mole. Two days later we realized it was a tick. Yikes! Oh, well, just part of life here. Anxious to try your tick spray. The fairy house the girls made is so sweet and will provide hours of fun. Good on you for planting the wildflowers. Next year you will have so many beautiful flowers to take pictures of. 🙂

  20. I can’t wait to try your tick remedy – I have not found one that works for us but we keep these handy – I don’t know if you can get them in the US but i think they are the best at quickly getting rid of the little b***ers. I am quite squeamish about tics but can use these fine! but avoiding them altogether would be great!

  21. Ok, your photos are darling! I don’t know where you learned to have such a good eye but you do. The kids look so healthy and having such fun. I’m a grandmother now but I wish I could have given my children all that you do.
    Do you think the hat on Mabel would work for a boy? I have a grandson. I’m also in VA and it’s such a gorgeous time of year here. I don’t think people realize just what a fantastic state this is. It’s like a little piece of heaven. I always watch for our posts and so enjoy you and your life. God Bless!!!

  22. Becky Barry says:

    Thank you for the post here. Beautiful kids, mud and buildings!

  23. Hi Ginny, I have been reading your blog for sometime now. I don’t knit. I don’t live in the country. I don’t have much in common with you but, I love the blog! The kids playing like I use to as a child, in ‘the crick’ as we use to say it. I grew up in the country. A hollow actually in Ohio. I love the pics you take of all the children. You are one brave woman with that mud them boys find and play in. Climbing barefoot in the trees and all that. You are a good mom. You have a good husband and a happy brood of children. I think it doesn’t get better than all that. That baby girl is precious. She is growing up fast. Pretty child.
    Thanks for sharing your life. It is fascinating and brings back sooo many memories for me. Makes me thankful to God for everything.

  24. Such dear and lovely photographs! Thank you for the recipe.

  25. I was literally smiling as I looked through your pictures. While the mud would make me a bit crazy, I would deal with it and would love for my children to have such wild and free days in the woods. Your kids are so blessed to have their outdoor world! As it is, we live in a subdivision on a half acre with only the baby trees we’ve planted. We’ve thought so many times about moving further out on some acreage, but it’s such a hard decision because that would bring other challenges, including trading a newish, large enough for the 10 of us house, for something smaller and older in order to afford the land. We live in such a convenient location, quick to get into Chicago for museum days and close to my husband’s job. And now our oldest is working part time and I’m driving him. If we could start over though, I think I’d opt for a house in the woods 😉

  26. Such lovely pictures! I miss being a child when I see those. I grew up in a place similar like this.

  27. Would this tick spray be safe to spray on dogs? Especially one that likes to lick his paws all the time?

    • Read through the reviews on the Rose Geranium oil I linked to on Amazon. It sounds like a lot of people use this on their dogs!

    • A naturopath vet that is near us says to not put essential oils on animals. They metabolize them differently than humans. The best way is to spray a bandanna and tie it around the neck.

  28. Great idea! I don’t think we have to worry to much about ticks yet, but when we go camping or hiking this could be very handy! I always feel so gross after spraying myself with chemically smelling bug spray! I need to do more research, but I think I’ve heard that lemongrass helps repel mosquitos . . .

  29. Megan Wahl says:

    The house reminds me of Swiss Family Robinson!

  30. Oh these pictures! They do my heart good. What a blessing to look at your blog and see these beautiful children and images from nature, first thing in the morning. It is a wonderful way to start the day. Thank you!

  31. Ginny, when I went camping years ago at Cumberland island, we had major tick issues. At the recommendation of a friend I at one clove of raw garlic a day in preparation. I started this about 3 weeks before the trip and continued taking one a day while we were there. My friend (who was also taking garlic) and I were the only ones who weren’t bitten by ticks. Everyone else was bitten quite a few times and one person actually got Lyme disease. Now, I don’t know if your kiddos will want to eat raw garlic every day but maybe there is something similar that can be done for them?

  32. I read this article on NPR recently about lyme disease and it’s transmitter, mice. Very interesting…

  33. These pictures make my heart melt. Such a dear life, you’ve given these precious ones!

  34. I’m so glad you shared this. I literally just pulled a tick off myself this morning. Yuck.

  35. I was looking at the photos of the boys in the mud and I was thinking, “Wow, Silas is huge”…..and then I realized it was actually Job. When did he get so big?!

  36. Google How to Make Your Own Tick Tubes. I just heard about it a couple of weeks ago and I wish our summer camp would do this!

  37. I love this post so much. The photos are absolutely stunning! The baby is breathtaking! I love your beautiful nature children in the woods, and that you are planting wildflowers there, and I will use your tick spray recipe for sure. I wish I were able to take such beautiful photos, but it’s a joy to be able to come to this site and be reminded of what my values are. Thanks!

  38. We use No Bites from Hopewell Oils . com. It seems to repel everything here. We just spray once in the hand and put a tiny bit on ourselves. It is crazy how little it takes. We don’t even put it on ourselves if we will be outside on the deck we just mist it once under the porch swing and we are bite free. We used to have spider webs all over our deck and after we started using the No Bites for mosquitoes the spiders disappeared completely. Hubby used it in the garage last fall for camel back crickets and we saw no bugs in the house all winter . (YAY) As far as I remember we did not have any ticks on us last summer after starting to use No Bites. We have tall liriope along our driveway and we try very hard to stay away from that because I did some research and it seems they hang out on tall blades of grass and such waiting for someone or an animal to brush against it and then they transfer themselves to the victim.

  39. I’ve read that catnip oil works as well as a deet. We buy a natural kind here in Canada.

  40. Ticks are the worst. I blogged about making head scarves for my girls, in an attempt to avoid them. They’re so difficult to spot when they’re in the hair! I need to make this spray!!

  41. Thank you for sharing your spray, I’ll be making up a batch and giving it a try. We’ve found that free ranging our chickens has cut back on ticks for us a lot, but they’re not eliminated completely and when we head farther off into the woods they still thrive there.
    Also, thank you for the links to the licensed nurseries. I’d like to scatter a few more beauties in our woods.

  42. jennyann1126 says:

    Darn ticks! We have them in abundance too and have finally made an effort at bedtime to check each kid for ticks. Thank you for sharing that spray. I am definitely going to try it. I have bought a tick remover tool that has worked amazing. It’s called Ticked Off and it takes the head out every single time (without much pain), no matter how long those little suckers seem to have been on us. It has a ring for your key chain and I keep it on my keys for an added benefit.

  43. Oh my… I SO wish, my kids could grow up like this…! *sigh*

  44. Thank you for the recipe!! I am making this!!!

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