A solution to combat ticks and tick bites has seen the Earth Repair Ecology P/L team successfully carry out bush regeneration work in Terry Hills, Sydney.Recently the Earth Repair Ecology P/L team were lucky enough to work for a number of weeks at Waratah Park in Terry Hills. Waratah Park is the name of the fictional National Park where the television series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was set and the ranger station is still there!

When we initially started working there a number of the team were attacked by ticks. Most of our work is on the Cumberland Plain where for reasons I don’t understand ticks and tick bites are rare or do not occur at all. I had, however, been following the tick issue and debate regarding Lyme disease through reading the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators newsletter. Having attended a tick awareness night in February last year I was very concerned about exposing myself or my staff to tick bites as this can lead to debilitating illness or worse.  A close friend of mine has chronic fatigue syndrome and while he is unsure as to the origins of his condition he worked as a bush regenerator during the 1980’s. A number of my staff had worked as bush regenerators on the northern beaches prior to being employed by Earth Repair Ecology P/L and tell horrific stories about the regularity of tick bites and the complacency with which this issue is treated. So I stopped work at the Park until I could find a solution.

It was after reading an article by Lynn Rees about Ticks and Tick prevention in AABR newsletter No. 117, I realised this may be Permethrin Infused clothing. I discussed this with the team and there was some concern regarding exposure to insecticide, however, after I received this email from my Site Supervisor Derek Bridgman I decided this may provide a safe way of mitigating the risk of tick bites.

Hi Chris,

Based on the information provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency Permethrin infused clothing is "below the Agency’s non-cancer and cancer LOCs (level of concern)". Also according to an MSDS for Permethrin used to infuse clothing as an insect repellent "Permethrin is not mutagenic, teratogenic or carcinogenic. Skin sensitisation tests indicate that Permethrin active ingredient was not a skin sensitiser. At high doses, the solvent caused reversible damage to the liver and kidney of male rats. These effects are not relevant to humans at occupational levels of exposure." Looking at this information I'd say that it would be quite safe to use the Permethrin infused clothing, and could offer another defence against Ticks.

I kitted the team out with Permethrin infused overalls and went back to Waratah Park. After three weeks of solid bush regeneration no one reported being bitten by ticks. So I can report that they do appear to be a solution. I have 10 pairs on the work truck at all times. The only limitation is that the Permethrin lasts for 100 washes only so I am planning not to wash them until I get complaints. I bought mine from The Safety Depot in Panania (Call John 8710 5301). And according to Wikipedia, Skippy is still being broadcast in Iran.