A Prepper’s Guide to Parasite Control When SHTF

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They’re coming. 

It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. An invasion is taking place. Bloodthirsty armies are cropping up everywhere. You can’t hide from them. They can track you. Gunfire won’t kill them; neither can swords or knives. They’re hungry, but they don’t want your canned goods or your MREs. You see, they don’t want your food because, to them, you are the food. And no, I’m not talking about space aliens. 

I’m talking about parasites.

Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, to be precise. Prosperous societies have seemingly reduced these pests from threat level status to little more than an inconvenient, occasional nuisance. However, history says that once prosperity fades, these pests come back with a vengeance. And when that happens, that “nuisance” fast becomes a danger. 

Infections transmitted by a parasite can kill you.

One only needs to crack open a history book to see the devastating, chilling effects that parasites can inflict on us. Bubonic plague killed an estimated ⅓ of Europe alone in the 1300s. Malaria, dengue, West Nile, Lyme disease, typhus, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are responsible for a number of fatalities each year, and sometimes even cause permanent damage to the body if you survive the initial infection. New, deadly diseases could emerge in the future, the spread of which can likely be aided by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. 

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The conveniences, cleanliness, readily available medical treatment, and technological advances that modern society has to offer have made many people forget the threat that these parasites have posed and still pose to us. Even in a slow-burning SHTF situation, hindrances with garbage removal can leave trash uncollected, gradually piling up in people’s yards. Raw, untreated sewage can leak into the environment as companies cut corners to try to fight rampant inflation. Shortages of important medicines, such as antibiotics, fever reducers, and common medical supplies, can become more scarce. A lack of doctors, nurses, and hospital workers can prolong wait times for urgent emergency care. 

If you think this is bad now, add flea infestations, swarms of mosquitoes, and ticks to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for a potential disaster.

Garbage will draw in a large number of rats, who will bring hitchhiking fleas with them. Neglected parking lots littered with potholes and unkempt yards will offer plenty of still water for mosquitoes to lay their eggs in. And due to shortages and sudden, increased demand, it’ll be more difficult to find insect repellents, antibiotics, or medical supplies, not to mention access to a doctor for treatment.

The threat of old diseases has never left us. We just managed to hold it off by maintaining our small towns and cities while having the right treatments available at exactly the right times to stave off any infections. 

In the United States, some parasite infections are actually on the rise.

Be it from mild winters to unkempt, even unsanitary or crowded conditions in our towns and cities, your chances of coming into contact with disease carriers have increased. This is true of urban, suburban, and rural areas.

While not every flea, tick, or mosquito is carrying life-threatening germs with them, they’re still a nuisance to deal with. Too many bites, even from disease-free parasites, can leave you with anemia, insomnia, poor coordination, stress, and a weaker immune system. This can make you vulnerable to a slew of other unrelated illnesses. Lack of sleep can cause you to make poor decisions when you need to rely on your thinking skills the most. Not a good scenario. 

You don’t even have to be around rats or other animals for flea infestations to occur.

Many years ago, I lived with my family out in the countryside. When a (pet-free) family moved close by, we soon found ourselves facing an unexpected flea infestation, courtesy of them. It was interesting to note that we had no pets at the time either. This type of situation is more common than you think, with people (oftentimes unknowingly) transmitting fleas to other people’s homes. Parasites aren’t picky. Where there is blood, they will follow. 

They’ll eagerly go after people in areas where there are no pets or any other animals for that matter. They usually lie in wait in grassy areas and cling to you. They can hide out in your hair or clothing as you unknowingly bring them into your home. A lone female flea can lay 40 to 50 eggs per day. A single female tick will lay a few thousand eggs and die afterwards. All it takes is one or two parasites, and you can wind up with an infestation of your home and yard. 

This article isn’t meant to cause fear or alarm.

By no means am I suggesting that you become a recluse and live in a bubble indoors for the rest of your life because of a few pests. Parasites have always been part of Earth’s ecosystems, and they always will be. It’s good to learn as much as you can about them because knowledge truly is power. It gives you the upper hand in a variety of situations. There are risks with everything and anything, inside and outside of your home. The key is to minimize these risks and prepare to nip any potential problems in the bud before they become exacerbated. 

Prevention is key.

Because many of the diseases listed can either be potentially fatal or have moderate to severe side effects even after treatment, prevention is the best approach. The goal is to make your home environment as hostile to fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks as possible. Here are a few ways to do so…

Keep the grass around your home cut.

If you’re in a slow-burning type of SHTF situation and are bugging in, try to keep the grass short. Fleas and ticks love tall grass they can hide in. If you have a small yard and gas is too costly, or you need a quieter alternative, an old-fashioned manual push mower can do wonders for your yard. This option might not even be applicable depending on the severity of the SHTF you’re experiencing. 

Keep parasite-repelling plants around your home and garden.

There are a number of plants that have biochemical properties that ward off these parasites. Some plants that help repel fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks include: wormwood, sweet bay, thyme, sage, mint, catnip, chrysanthemum, lemongrass, yarrow, garlic, holy basil, rosemary, lemon balm, lemongrass, roses, lavender, marigold, rue, citronella, geraniums, fleawort, fleabane daisy, and eucalyptus. I personally can vouch for geraniums, marigolds, lemongrass, rosemary, garlic, and mint to help with pests. 

You can opt to add food-grade diatomaceous earth to your home and yard.

Diatomaceous earth is a type of sedimentary rock with a talc-like texture. It’s common and is frequently mined. It works by drying out the exoskeletons of fleas, killing them. Do not get filter grade. This type is unsafe for your home. When sprinkling it in the home, wear gloves and a mask. Diatomaceous earth not only has a drying effect, but it shouldn’t be inhaled. Wait until the dust settles before allowing others into the treated rooms of the house or the yard. Wait three days, then vacuum it up. If you’re unable to vacuum, use gloves and a mask to sweep it out of your home. I’ve personally used diatomaceous earth to combat pests effectively. 

Use yard sprays.

You can create a variety of organic, do-it-yourself yard sprays to discourage fleas and ticks from coming into your yard. 

Break out the cedar mulch.

Cedar is naturally toxic to both fleas and ticks (snakes don’t like it either). You can get a few bags of cedar mulch as well as dog bedding to discourage these pests. Create two-foot wide cedar mulch borders around the house or property. 

Insect repellents do work.

There’s a variety of insect repellents on the market to choose from. You can opt to buy a reputable brand of repellent, or better yet, create your own with organic ingredients from boiled herbs and essential oils. Do not use any skin repellents containing lemon or lime oil. While these can certainly deter pests, your skin will suffer serious burns if you’re out in the sun. This is due to a natural chemical in the fruits being activated by sunlight. It’ll cause severe rashes and blistering. So unless you only plan on going out at night, skip them. 

If you have any pets, give your dogs and cats monthly flea and tick treatments.

Whether it’s a name-brand treatment or an organic formula, this will help stop an infestation before it has a chance to begin. Please do proper research on brands and homemade treatments before you decide to apply them. Some of these can be poisonous to your pets, especially if misused.

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Inspect your home for any openings or cracks.

These need to be sealed up immediately. Otherwise, you’re welcoming pests into your home. 

While this is frequently recommended, be sure to eliminate stagnant water from the property.

Puddles, bird baths, and old kid’s pools are magnets for mosquitoes. Old tires especially attract mosquitoes. What’s less frequently acknowledged is that even a bottle cap filled with water is just enough for a mosquito to lay eggs in, so be sure to clean up any plastic or cans that might harbor still water. Add pumps to stagnant ponds for circulation. You can even find some cheap solar ones that will work great during a SHTF event. 

Wear clothing that covers the skin to help prevent a tick from latching onto your skin.

Long sleeves and pants. Tuck your shirt into your pants and pant legs into your socks and shoes. Do regular tick checks.

Make friends with beneficial wildlife.

Frogs, toads, and spiders are helpful predators that can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard. This is a cost-free solution. If you have any old or cracked clay flower pots, take a hammer and break a small hole into it. Make sure to eliminate any sharp edges. Turn the pot upside down into the soil. You can place these in shady areas of your property to welcome frogs and toads in your yard. Non-harmful spiders building webs on the property should be left undisturbed.  

Make sure your windows have screens.

Check your screens from time to time for any puncture holes that mosquitoes can get through. You can easily patch holes up with fine mesh and thin wire. 

If you’re bugging out, you may want to carry mosquito nets in your bag.

They’re lightweight and can be easily draped around your tent or sleeping bag. If you’re bugging in, mosquito nets can be placed around your beds. Even if you have an effective mosquito repellent and they don’t bite you, chances are they’ll still be hanging around and buzzing in your face, being a pain in the butt while you’re trying to sleep. Save yourself some trouble and use mosquito nets to prevent this from happening so you can get much-needed sleep. There are even mosquito net suits to cover your whole body from them.

(Pests constantly eat. Humans need to constantly eat, too! Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to building a 3-layer food storage plan, so you don’t have to starve while your pests feast when the economy collapses.)

Treatment of parasite infestations

In a slow-burning SHTF scenario where society has yet to collapse, exterminators may be unaffordable due to inflation and your own personal economic disasters. In an even worse SHTF, they won’t be available at all. Should an infestation occur, you’re going to have to take care of it by yourself and use whatever is available at your disposal.

Here’s what you can do. 

● Starve them out. Constantly apply insect repellent to yourself. Make sure everyone in your family does as well. Growing up, my family and I had to face a stubborn flea infestation. We ran out of insect repellents, and due to our financial situation, we didn’t have the money to buy any more.

We ended up taking spare lotion and hair conditioner, mixing it with some vapor rub to make our own, and applying it to our skin. Thankfully it worked. It stopped us from being eaten alive by these bugs. We’ve also made a rather effective skin repellent from wild onion grass when we ran out of other ingredients to work with. My point is, if you have nothing else available, sometimes you’ll have to get creative and make your own. If these pests can’t find an appetizing meal, they’ll either have to look elsewhere or starve.

● Create flea traps. This can be something as simple as glue (or anything sticky) on a white paper plate with a solar power bank in flashlight mode pointing light at it. Fleas are attracted to the color white, be sure to incorporate this color into your traps and include a light source. An empty white plastic dish or a white bathtub can be filled with water. Add some strong dish soap to this. The fleas will be drawn in, drown and die. 

● Vacuum every room every day to get rid of fleas and fecal matter from fleas. I know. Depending on the severity of the SHTF and where you live, this simply isn’t going to be possible. In a slow-burning SHTF, you should continue to vacuum each room in your house every day if you are able to. As soon as you are done, empty the dirt from the canister into plastic bags and quickly tie them shut. 

● Steam cleaning. Again, this is more or less for a slow-burning SHTF event. If you own a steam cleaner, blasting piping hot steam on your carpeting and furniture can help kill fleas. Shampooing carpets can help with this as well. 

● Wash any bedding in soapy water. Any blankets, pillows, and clothing that aren’t currently being used can be washed, dried, and placed in garbage bags. If you’re unable to wash bedding, be sure to spray it with flea-killing mixtures.

● Spray your yard at least once a week to kill and deter fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. 

● Spray your home once a day. Be sure to spray beds, furniture, and carpets thoroughly. Don’t forget to spray some underneath beds, couches, and dressers. 

● Use diatomaceous earth in your yard and home to kill them. If you run out, you can sprinkle baking soda and salt on your floors and beds. (This helps to dry out their exoskeletons and kill them). 

DIY recipes for parasite repellants, home sprays, and yard sprays

I’ve compiled a list of homemade recipes for every pesky occasion. I’ve learned through trial and error which solutions work and which don’t. Even though these are natural solutions, be cautious about applying them near pets and people who are sensitive to smells. These have a powerful scent. I’d advise using gloves to prepare these recipes. 

Home Spray/Yard Spray Flea and Tick Killer Recipe

  1. One cup of isopropyl alcohol
  2. One cup of witch hazel (to help properly mix the essential oil blend)
  3. 20 drops of geranium essential oil
  4. 20 drops of clove essential oil
  5. 20 drops of cedar essential oil
  6. 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  7. 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil (optional, repels mosquitoes) 
  8. One teaspoon of garlic oil (optional, great tick deterrent) 

Mix the ingredients together and add them to a spray bottle. Shake vigorously. If you have a small yard, you can add this mixture to a watering can and sprinkle it across your lawn. For larger yards, pour this mixture into an old yard spray container and hose down the yard. This is a great treatment option to kill fleas and ticks. 

Home Spray to Repel Fleas

  1. One cup of water
  2. One cup of witch hazel
  3. 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil 
  4. 20 drops of rosemary essential oil 
  5. 20 drops of lavender essential oil 
  6. 20 drops of peppermint essential oil 
  7. 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil 

Add to a spray bottle and mix together thoroughly. Shake well before using. These oils won’t kill fleas and ticks, but they’ll keep them away from you and your home. This is more of a preventative than a solution. 

Home Spray to Repel Fleas

  1. Four cups of water
  2. Two tablespoons of strong dish soap

Mix together and spray your furniture and bedding with the soapy solution. 

Insect Repellent For Skin

  1. ¼ cup isopropyl alcohol
  2. ¼ cup Witch hazel 
  3. 15 drops of lavender essential oil
  4. 15 drops of rosemary essential oil
  5. 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  6. 15 drops of Peppermint essential oil 

Mix together well. Keep this in a dark glass bottle, and store away from light and sunlight to preserve the potency of the mixture. If you don’t have isopropyl alcohol, you can use boiled water. 

Skin Repellent/Home Spray (for when you have no essential oils or chemicals available) 

  1. Two cups of water
  2. Four tablespoons of sage
  3. Four tablespoons of mint
  4. Four tablespoons of rosemary
  5. Four tablespoons of lavender
  6. Four tablespoons of cloves
  7. Four tablespoons of yarrow
  8. Four tablespoons of holy basil

Add the herbal mixture to the boiling water. Let it soak for a while, ideally with a lid on top to keep in the steam. Wait until the mixture cools, then use a strainer to pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Store away from sunlight. Add two cups of alcohol or witch hazel if you have any. 

You can also utilize garlic or onion for a makeshift repellent if you have nothing else available. Some people successfully incorporate apple cider vinegar into their repellents as well. I’ve heard of people using mud to prevent bugs from biting, but I’ve been bitten when I had mud on my hands and arms, so this didn’t work for me. 

Items to include in your stockpile for parasite preparedness

It doesn’t hurt to stockpile some items to help combat fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. This will help greatly if you ever find yourself thrown in the middle of a SHTF event or suffer from an unexpected loss of income. This doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Take advantage of sales and discounts. Please note some of these items will expire in only a few years, for their chemical composition (both organic and non-organic) tends to degrade after that timeframe. You will need to check dates and replace them from time to time if you want functional parasite control.

Here’s what you can include: 

  • Mosquito nets
  • Mosquito net body suits
  • Mesh screens and wire (to repair any window screens) 
  • Gloves
  • Protective eyewear (for when you’re spraying your home or yard) 
  • Insect repellent sprays
  • Home and yard sprays
  • Insect-repellent essential oils. Rose, rosemary, cedar, geranium, clove, lemongrass, citrus, lavender, eucalyptus, mint, sage, thyme, citronella, and wormwood are some excellent choices, along with bottles of isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel, and carrier oils of your preference. Great for making DIY insect repellents, home sprays, and yard sprays. 
  • Light sources. These can be solar power banks with built-in flashlights, lanterns, and tea-light candles. Lights will draw fleas into traps
  • Glue traps, glue
  • Food-grade diatomaceous earth
  • Flea and tick treatments for your dogs or cats, flea combs
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Spray bottles
  • Bags (to dispose of fleas and ticks)

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What do you think about parasite control after the collapse?

By forming a plan and sticking to it, we were able to beat flea and tick infestations during difficult times. Being prepared to fight off parasites during a SHTF event is a must if you want to survive. Having a winning strategy to combat them will not only prevent illnesses and infestations for you and your family, but it’ll also save you from unnecessary stress and medical bills. 

What are your thoughts on this information? Have you tried any of these methods? Do you use any methods not mentioned here? How do you protect yourself from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes? Let’s discuss it in the comments. 

About Blackbird

Blackbird grew up in poverty in the rural Pennsylvania countryside during a harsh economic recession. She learned self-reliance from her family at a young age and is now a seasoned prepper of many years. She enjoys nature walks, reading, gardening, working outdoors, and drawing in her spare time.

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