Spearmint and Oregano Essential Oils Repel Ticks

New study demonstrates that Essential Oils of Spearmint and Oregano can be as effective as DEET at repelling ticks in the field.

A new study conducted by Olivia Soutar, Freya Cohen, and Richard Wall published in the October, 2019 edition of Experimental and Applied Acarology showed that a solution of 5% Oregano or Spearmint essential oils were as effective at repelling ticks as a 20% solution of DEET.

The scientists from the University of Bristol, England went to a local park known to have a large population of the tick Ixodes ricunus. They drug a 1 meter square cotton blanket over the vegetation for 10 meters. They also had researchers put on cotton pants and walk through similar vegetation for 10 meters. They first treated the blankets and the pants with several different solutions, and then counted how many ticks attached to the blankets and pants.

They used 100% pure steam-distilled essential oils for these tests, diluted with pure ethanol.

They examined the following solutions:

1. 5% Oregano essential oil (Origanum vulgare) mixed with 95% Ethanol

2. 5% Rosemary essential oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) mixed with 95% Ethanol

3. 5% Spearmint essential oil (Mentha spicata) mixed with 95% Ethanol

4. 5% Thyme essential oil (Thymus vulgaris) mixed with 95% Ethanol

5. 100% Ethanol

6. 20% DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) mixed with 80% Ethanol

The researchers sprayed the solutions on the blankets and pants and let them air dry for 15 minutes before taking them into the vegetation. They used a little more than one ounce of solution on each blanket and each pair of pants (33 mL of solution on each blanket, 30 mL of solution on each pair of pants). They conducted the tests 18 times with different blankets and pants. They let some blankets and pants sit out for 24 hours, and tested them the following day. For the pants, they counted how many ticks were on them after the researchers walked 10 meters, waited three minutes, and counted them again to see how many ticks jumped off.

Blankets and pants treated with 5% Spearmint oil had the fewest ticks. Curiously, blankets treated with 5% Oregano also had fewer ticks, but pants treated with the Oregano solution did not have fewer ticks. For ticks that attached to the pants, the most ticks jumped off of the pants treated with Spearmint or Thyme oil. The solutions were just as effective 24 hours later in keeping ticks away.

The results of this study indicate that solutions of 5% Oregano oil and 5% Spearmint oil are natural tick repellents, and they are about as effective as a solution of 20% DEET.

Results Over 18 Tests

Over 18 tests, the blankets collected a total of 1,385 ticks.

Blankets treated with solutions of: Had a median of this many ticks per blanket:

Spearmint 2 ticks

Oregano 4 ticks

Thyme 5 ticks

DEET 5.5 ticks

Rosemary 11 ticks

Ethanol 29 ticks

Over 18 tests, the six pairs of pants collected a total of 243 ticks.

Three minutes later, a total of 116 ticks had jumped off, leaving 127 ticks still on the pants.

Pants treated with: Collected this many ticks in total: This many ticks jumped off:

Spearmint 11 ticks 7 of 11 (64%)

DEET 17 ticks 11 of 17 (65%)

Oregano 20 ticks 9 of 20 (45%)

Thyme 27 ticks 19 of 27 (70%)

Ethanol 79 ticks 35 of 79 (44%)

Rosemary 89 ticks 34 of 89 (38%)

These results show that that solutions of 5% Oregano oil and 5% Spearmint oil are natural tick repellents, and they are about as effective as a solution of 20% DEET.


Preventing tick bites prevents serious tick-borne diseases!

1.) Stay out of areas with a lot ticks if at all possible.

2.) Keep your body covered with clothes when you are in areas with ticks.

3.) Wear light-colored clothing.

4.) Pull your socks up OVER your pants to keep the ticks off your legs.

5.) To make your own natural tick repellent, mix 5 mL of pure Oregano or Spearmint Essential Oil with 95 mL of rubbing alcohol. Pour it into a small spray bottle. This will make 100 ml of tick repellent solution. (That is 1 teaspoon oil in ½ cup rubbing alcohol)

6.) Apply it to your clothes. Spray it evenly all over. Use about 30 ml (a little more than one ounce) on each pair of pants and each shirt. Let it dry for 15 minutes before walking near the ticks.

7.) Apply a fresh batch of solution to your clothes every 24 hours.

8.) Check your body carefully for ticks each day.


Soutar, O., Cohen, F. & Wall, R. Exp Apply Acarol (2019) 70:209.

Link to article summary: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/31578646/?i=7&from=rosemary%20essential%20oil#fft

Link to full article: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10493-019-00422-z

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