Tick Repellents For Africa

Page Updated: Mar 2024

A dose of African Tick Bite Fever can really mess up your hunt, especially if you are doing a long hunt. Generally, it may not affect a short 7 day hunt because the symptoms won't appear until you get home - 5 to 7 days after an infected tick bite.

So if you are going on a long hunt, speak to your travel physician about taking some antibiotics with you such as Doxycycline or Tetracycline just in case you get tick bite fever symptoms.

So all African hunters, no matter how long the hunt, should know about ticks and use some form of tick repellent.

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Tick Repellents For Africa

  • DEET and permethrin both work to repel ticks so a good insect repellent on exposed skin plus permethrin impregnated clothing should do the trick.
  • A good tick repellent/killer is Bayer Bayticol fabric spray with the active ingredient Flumethrin which is a pyrethroid. It kills ticks on contact with treated clothing and lasts for about 2-3 washes. If you are hunting in South Africa or Namibia it's worth stopping off at a local farm equipment or outdoor goods shop to buy a can. Note, get the fabric spray for humans and not any other Bayticol product used for livestock.
  • Duct tape or tuck your trousers legs into your socks and boots.
  • Lighter coloured clothing makes spotting ticks easier.
  • Get used to examining your body regularly, particularly the skin folds/creases and under hair, while on your hunt and afterwards.
  • Develop good tick removal technique.

'Natural' Tick Repellents

For those who don't like putting 'chemicals' on their body such as DEET or permethrin and who are NOT hunting in a malarial area of Africa, there is a wide range of 'natural' tick repellents available. They are said to work by masking the natural human odours which are said to attract ticks. You must thoroughly apply diluted essential oils such as rose geranium, cedarwood, lavender and lemongrass to your skin and clothing. This is scientifically unproven to work on African ticks and smelling like Grandma's pot pourri might not be conducive to hunting success.

Tick Removal

Should you twist or pull a tick off? Some experts say don't twist due to the risk of infection if the mouth/head parts are left behind in the bite. Other experts who are adept at using a tick twisting tool claim the rotation movement leaves fewer heads behind.

  • Get some specific tick removal tweezers or any other tick removal gadgets.
  • Grab the tick firmly with tweezers under its head where mouth parts are embedded.
  • Carefully push down to disengage the 'teeth' from your skin.
  • Pull the tick away.
  • If it does not come off at once, rock it from side to side. It should definitely come off then.
  • Apply a little antiseptic cream.
  • Do not use the old lighted cigarette trick. The heat upsets ticks and they vomit their bacteria-ridden gut contents into the wound.
  • Do not try to smother the tick with vaseline or similar product - you want the tick off immediately not when it decides to detach.

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