Yes, careful readers may notice we wrote about all-natural insect repellent just a few weeks ago, but with Maine experiencing a bumper crop of mosquitoes and tick-borne viruses spreading through the state, it can’t hurt to take a double dose of precaution.

Heather Peel of Fayette started experimenting with essential oil-based repellents last fall as a way to help her daughter, who is, apparently, a tick magnet, along with her classmates at the town’s elementary school.

“The kids would go out for recess, and they’d come in and it was routine to do a tick check,” Peel said. “Just from a 20-minute recess, they would get ticks.”

Ticks weren’t the only problem. The Peel family has a camp in the north woods that is crawling with black flies (Peel says her repellent works against those, too.)

Peel started researching kid-friendly repellents, hoping she could come up with something to throw in her daughter’s school bag that wouldn’t expose her to harsh chemicals. She got help from her sister, Crystal Hamlin in Limerick, who has experience working with essential oils. They turned the playroom in Peel’s home into a bottling zone where they tried out different anti-tick formulas.

“I know interest in essential oils seems to be growing in the mainstream,” Peel said, “but they’re still not easy to understand or to blend on your own.”

The result of their labors was Flick the Tick, a chemical-free, water-based (so it can be sprayed on clothes without staining) repellent that comes in 4-ounce bottles. The active ingredients are cedarwood oil, citronella oil, geranium oil and lemongrass oil. Peel and her sister have created three different blends: Backyard Baby Blend, good for kids up to 2 years old; Deep Woods Blend, for older children and adults; and Furry Dog Blend, which contains peppermint oil to repel fleas that may see your dog as their next meal.

Backyard Baby and Furry Dog sell for $11.95 each. Deep Woods goes for $13.95. They can be found at the Frinklepod Farm farm stand in Arundel; Longfellow’s Greehouses in Manchester; the Fayette Country Store; Harvest Time Natural Foods in Augusta; Readfield Family Market; Audette’s Hardware in Winthrop; Lois’ Natural Marketplace in Portland and Scarborough; and the Panacea Yoga Studio in Hallowell.  You can also find their products online at


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