Monday, April 11, 2011

what's an organic mom to do?

So we had 2 tick incidents this past week in our house.  The first was last Monday, my son had a very engorged, and very stuck tick on the back of his neck, just under the hairline.  I figured, it happens, pediatrician said watch for symptoms, but otherwise let's just do a blood test in 4 weeks to be sure no lyme, etc.  Okay, no biggie.  Then two days later, when I was standing in the driveway talking to my neighbor, I noticed a very small (and only noticeable because I was wearing khaki pants) tick climbing up my leg.  I hadn't worked outside at all, had only come out of the house at all to walk down the driveway to the bus stop.  All of about 10 paces were not on a paved surface, yet somehow the tick had found me.  Two in one week, I (admittedly) started to panic a little bit.  Two in one week felt like one too many to me, when we still have a very long season to go and my family spends almost every good weather moment outside.

After making a few phone calls it seemed like I had a few options.  One, do nothing, be vigilant about checking and pray that no one get's Lyme disease.  Two, spray an organic approved botanical pyrethroid which is an insecticide (it will be killing many bugs, not just ticks) or three, spray a synthetic pyrethroid with the same killing effects.  Here is where the labeling and science get a little tricky and confusing, the two pyrethroids are essentially the same. One is made from an extract of chrysanthemums, so it's "natural"  it's OMRI listed which means it can be used on certified organic farms.  The other was created in a lab, but the way it behaves when applied is identical.  For the sake of clarity, pyrethroids in general are known throughout the industry as the least "toxic" of insecticides and are not in the same class or type as much better known insecticides like DDT, Diazanon or Imidacloprid (which is one of the suspected factors in colony collapse disorder, but is still widely used by many tick spray companies).  So would selecting the botanical pyrethroid be just a cop out to make myself or make others feel better?  Does choosing to spray go against everything I believe in?

The jury's still out, I've not made a decision yet.


  1. What to do about the ticks --- like you, it is a constant and worrisome issue in my garden. In 2008 I had a devastating bout of Lyme, complete with facial paralysis and intense fever and pain. I had no idea how truly horrible it could be. I am recovered, but darned if I didn't have an engorged tick on me earlier this month, despite night temps in the 20s and daytime temps that weren't getting above 45. Enough already! What to do.....

  2. I'm really torn. I consider myself an organic gardener. Using the botanical pyrethrin would still fit that bill, but doesn't feel to me like it's really what I want to do in terms of environmental stewardship.

  3. Shira

    Many of us share these same thoughts as far as stewardship goes. Like Laurrie, I and several of my friends have had or still have Lyme's and it is more painful and dangerous than most people think. I plan on using pyrethrin around my yard from now on.