Garden Notes: Tick-prevention efforts cause wardrobe adventure

In 2002, West Point cadets were contracting Lyme disease at an alarming rate.

After Insect Shield-treated uniforms were issued, new cases of Lyme disease dropped to zero. Insect Shield now processes uniforms for the U.S. military, the Marine Corps and, of course, West Point cadets.

Ticks in my garden were especially aggressive last year. I “acquired” a grand total of five ticks during the 2014 gardening season and didn’t want to become a tick housing development again this year.

I had tried all the sprays and lotions – they didn’t do the job. I read that some scientists think our pheromones are a come-on for ticks. Other scientists think ticks are attracted to us by the smell of our breath.

I can’t do anything about my pheromones, but the smell of my breath is somewhat controllable. So I ate raw garlic. I ate sardine and onion sandwiches, and I consumed a fair amount of Coors Light. Nothing worked.

This spring, I bought myself some false courage. The “old fashioned” ways didn’t work for me, so I purchased “new fashions” in the form of insect-repellent clothing.

I chose EPA-registered Insect Shield ( According to its website, Insect Shield binds a permethrin formula to the fabric fibers. The clothes provide “effective, invisible and odorless protection against mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and no-see-ums through 70 laundering cycles.”

The bean counter in me justified the expense by counting the number of friends who contracted Lyme. I know they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on antibiotics and long summer days recovering. Lyme victims hurt physically and financially for years.

The clothing I chose covers everything but my face and hands. I went all out. Woman’s long sleeved cotton T-shirt – $25, woman’s yoga pants – $39, two pairs of socks – $17. I bought a floppy straw Insect Shield hat – $25, plus shipping, handling and tax. A lot of money for an outfit I wouldn’t wear anywhere but my garden.

As you might expect, I’m re-thinking some items. My theory with the long sleeved T-shirt was, the less skin exposed, the less likely a tick bite. But a long sleeved T-shirt gets crazy hot in the sun. Next year, I’ll probably take my chances with a short-sleeved T-shirt.

The pants: The website reviews say the pants run small, and advise buyers to order the next size up. The seat of the next-size-up fits me fine. But the pants are long enough for the Jolly Green Giant. I know it’s not quite logical, but I haven’t been able to make myself cut off the $39 pants legs. So I stuff the extra yard or so in my socks. The shifting protuberance has caused some furtive glances.

The neighbors are kind (at least they haven’t snickered within earshot or posted pictures on the Internet.) And I am so happy to say I’ve acquired no ticks since I started wearing my Insect Shield clothes.

MasterCard would say: “Freedom from ticks – priceless.”

Contact Teresa Futrick at