Experts Say Permethrin-Treated Clothing Can Protect You From ‘Tick Explosion’ Happening This Summer

   05.29.18

In case you’ve been sleeping in a cave the past few months, experts have been warning of a “tick explosion” coming this summer, but there might be a way to decrease your risk of getting bit: permethrin-treated clothing.

It sounds like a toxic nightmare, but permethrin is a common insecticide used to kill ticks, lice, and mosquitoes, along with other annoying pests, and now you can get your clothes treated with it to protect yourself while still enjoying the outdoors.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that permethrin makes it more difficult for ticks to latch onto your clothes, bite, or even move around, and they’re now testing to determine its effectiveness on two species of ticks suspected to be on the rise: the lone star tick and the American dog tick.

A new study, which was published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, ran tests on 10 clothing items purchased from the company InsectShield to see how ticks respond to permethrin-treated clothes.

It did not take long before all the ticks essentially lost their fine motor skills and fell off. Some lost their ability to move for at least an hour!

“All tested tick species and life stages experienced irritation – the ‘hot-foot’ effect – after coming into contact with permethrin-treated clothing,” co-author of the study Lars Eisen, Ph. D., research entomologist at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said in a statement.

“This caused the ticks to drop off from a vertically oriented treated textile designed to mimic a pant leg or the arm of a shirt. We also found that sustained contact with permethrin-treated clothing resulted in loss of normal movement for all examined tick species and life stages, leaving them unable to bite.”

Following CDC recommendations, those planning to spend time outside this summer should be treating boots, pants and socks with sprays containing 0.5% permethrin. If you aren’t comfortable handling it yourself, you can either purchase or send in your wardrobe to InsectShield, and have them treat your clothing for you. 

For more tips, make sure to read up on our previous article to stay bug-free all summer long!

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