Post-TEOTWAWKI Pest Control – Part 2, by J.S.R.

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and Lyme disease are two bacterial tick-borne infections of particular concern. The ticks that transmit both of these diseases are found all over the United States. The CDC states that RMSF is most common in Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. After the three- to twelve-day incubation period, the early signs (days 1-4) of RMSF include a high fever, severe headache, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, anorexia), and edema around the eyes and on the back of the hands. Two to five days after symptoms begin, the rash associated with RMSF first appears. This rash is diagnostic, but not essential. In other words, the small, flat, pink, non-itchy spots that first appear on the wrists, forearms, and ankles do not occur with other illnesses. This rash sometimes spreads to the trunk, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet, but keep in mind that 10% of patients never develop this rash. When the rash color turns from red to purple, it signals severe progression of the disease. Treatment should have begun long ago. Subsequently appearing are altered mental status, cerebral edema, pulmonary edema and respiratory distress, necrosis (tissue death requiring amputation), and kidney failure. If there is any suspicion of RMSF, begin treatment immediately. Delay may be fatal.

The CDC also indicates that Lyme disease occurs primarily in the New England states. However, there are numerous anecdotal reports of high numbers of people contracting Lyme disease in Utah and Idaho as well. Diagnosis of Lyme disease is difficult because the symptoms are similar to many other illnesses—rashes, headaches, and muscle and joint aches. An incubation period lasting up to thirty days only complicates matters. While recalling a tick bite would facilitate diagnosis, over 60% of patients don’t remember being bitten. The classic early sign is the characteristic bullseye rash around the site of the bite. Other early common signs are meningitis or inflammation of the heart muscle. Unfortunately, these won’t be easily identified outside a hospital setting. Symptoms of severe arthritis involving multiple joints and chronic meningitis—headaches, problems in thinking clearly, and sleepiness—appear later.

Options for treating Lyme disease include doxycycline (100 mg, 2 times per day, 10-14 days) and amoxicillin (500 mg, 3 times per day, 14-28 days).

The numerous viral tick-borne diseases are fortunately less common, as we likely won’t be able to identify them without a laboratory. Antibiotics will not work. Treatment for these diseases is supportive care based on the symptoms.


Unlike the other pests addressed in this article, bedbugs do not cause disease. But they are definitely demoralizing. Nobody wants them. The eggs are pearly-white and about the size of pinheads, while the adults look like apple seeds in size and appearance. Bedbugs tend to congregate in families and favor mattress seams, books, suitcases, wallpaper, and electrical outlets. A lot of them together may smell like rotting raspberries. They have a distinctive bite pattern, usually targeting exposed skin and biting in a rather straight line. It’s called the breakfast-lunch-dinner pattern, because that’s basically what they do—take a bite for breakfast, walk on a bit to digest, take a bite for lunch, walk, eat dinner. And maybe some dessert.

To prevent bringing bedbugs home from hotels, always check the mattresses and store bags and backpacks in the hotel bathtub.

If you have been invaded by bedbugs, permethrin may kill them, though some are becoming resistant. Laundry and hot or cold treatments mentioned at the beginning of this article may help. Diatomaceous earth may be sprinkled on mattresses and carpets. Several treatments may be necessary. Natural options for repelling bedbugs include juniper boughs, mint, black cohosh, and bay leaves. A repellent spray can be made using ten drops each of lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils in a cup of water.

Benadryl and hydrocortisone cream may be used to relieve the itching and inflammation of the bites.


Scabies, eight-legged mites related to ticks, burrow into the skin and cause intense itching. While commonly found among the poor, they spread very quickly to all classes of people, even the very most hygienic. Indeed, they’re often transmitted to health care providers, and outbreaks frequently occur in rehab hospitals. But day-care centers, schools, public transportation, and prisons are also affected. And that’s because scabies is so highly contagious. It is transmitted by direct physical contact or through infested linens or clothing. Though not technically an STD, scabies is often found in sexually promiscuous teens and young adults. And because scabies is so contagious, when one individual is affected, the whole household gets treated.

And that’s because symptoms of a first-time infection take two to six weeks to appear. During the incubation period, the scabies are spreading to everyone else in the family. The scabies will then incubate in the new hosts and spread for two to six weeks without any symptoms, and so on. When the scabies mites burrow under the skin and bite, they cause itching. This itching is an allergic response to the bites, waste, and eggs being laid. In repeat infestations, because the patient has already been previously sensitized, the allergic reaction is faster, sometimes as little as one day.

The scabies’ rash looks like tiny bites, hives, or bumps under the skin. Occasionally, the burrows or tunnels of the mites can actually be observed, especially with a magnifying glass, which may even allow you to see the mites going in and out of their burrows in the skin. The most common areas for scabies to tunnel are where it’s warmer and wetter—the wrist, arm, genitals, armpits, elbows, waist, buttocks, and areas between the fingers.

One of the chief complaints of those afflicted with scabies is that physicians do not understand how intense the itching is and that a lot of treatments are ineffective. Basically, the itching is so intense that patients cannot sleep at night. Indeed, this is the number one clue that scabies is the culprit—the itching is worse at night. In addition, the intense scratching of the afflicted areas creates sores which can then become infected (impetigo) and require antibiotics to treat.

Pharmaceuticals often prescribed to kill scabies include:

  • 5% permethrin cream;
  • 25% benzyl benzoate lotion;
  • 1% lindane lotion;
  • 10% sulfur ointment;
  • 10% crotamiton cream;
  • ivermectin.

Sulfur in petroleum jelly is one of the earliest known treatments for scabies. It is not FDA- approved, but it is safe for pregnant women and children. It does not smell good.

Although the above treatments will kill the mites, the itching may continue for several weeks afterward. While the itching is due to biting, it is also an allergic reaction to eggs and waste, which do not magically disappear when the mites are killed. The itching often intensifies during the first week after treatment. It then tapers off to no itching within one month of treatment. Physicians prescribe antihistamines to reduce itching and help with sleep. Home remedies for reducing the itching include:

  • a bath with cool water and oatmeal;
  • calamine lotion;
  • paper towels dipped in rubbing alcohol and applied to the skin;
  • apple cider vinegar bath;
  • horse ivermectin and 10% permethrin;
  • diatomaceous earth and baking soda mixed with water into a liquid paste applied all over the body twice, one week between applications;
  • neem oil bath daily for six weeks;
  • full-strength apple cider vinegar and salt soak (will burn, but only for a little while)
  • diatomaceous earth and olive oil paste;
  • a hot bath with 1-2 cups of salt each night for a week;
  • witch hazel and tea tree oil;
  • rosemary essential oil and tea tree oil;
  • 1:1 tea tree oil and olive oil to dab on affected areas;
  • Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) leaves prepared as an infusion and used as an external wash.

Any personal items that could harbor the mites need to be laundered in water as hot as possible but at least above 120 degrees. Items that cannot be washed need to be avoided for at least three days.


The statistics are that somewhere between forty and eighty million Americans are afflicted with intestinal worms. Not only are they much more common than head lice, one-third of people with worms are totally asymptomatic. So they spread the parasites without even knowing it. None of the medications we commonly stockpile have any efficacy against worms. Worms spread from contact with an infected person or through contaminated food or water.

Pinworms spread easily from person to person, especially among young children, and from those who do not wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet. All close contacts of an infected individual should be treated, mainly because asymptomatic infection and re-infection are common. Pinworms cause anal itching, especially at night. To identify pinworms, wrap tape around a gloved finger. Insert the finger up the patient’s anus at night. The pinworms will adhere to the tape.

Roundworms come to us from contaminated food. They usually are not diagnosed until the adult roundworms emerge from the mouth, nose, or anus. Other symptoms of roundworms include abdominal pain, intestinal blockage, and malnutrition. And, just as with pinworms, roundworm infections may be asymptomatic. All close contacts with the patient must be treated.

Mebendazole is the drug of choice for eliminating worms. It is available by prescription only in the US; however, overseas pharmacies offer it at a very reasonable price. All Day Chemist sells a bottle of thirty tablets for less than ten dollars, enough for treating fifteen cases of worms. The veterinary option is called albendazole. Though a sheep and cattle dewormer not approved by the FDA for use in people, it appears many physicians wouldn’t hesitate to use it in a crisis.

Natural treatments asserted to be effective against worms include sagebrush, garlic, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, and tobacco.


Three general practices will significantly reduce the chances of getting bitten and developing vector-borne diseases.

The first is absolute cleanliness. Washing clothing, bed linens, and towels in very hot water of at least 140 degrees for 10 minutes will kill all lice, ticks, fleas, and related insect-like vermin. Items that cannot be washed need to be placed in plastic bags wrapped securely and placed in a hot car that reaches temperatures of at least 140 degrees. Bagging and sub-zero temperatures for at least four days will also work for bedbugs. Consider burning the infested items if the other measures are not an option.

Social distancing such as may occur when people voluntarily relocate far from society will completely prevent contracting scabies, bedbugs, or lice, assuming that nobody brings these pests with them, and assuming that nobody ventures out into society. Maintaining a distance of several miles from other people will reduce (not eliminate) the incidence of some mosquito-borne diseases and worms. Social distancing will not reduce the threats posed by ticks.

Permethrin kills and repels insects and ticks and does so for a long time. The spray can be applied to tents, shoes, clothing, and backpacks to repel insects and to kill those that dare land on you or your things. Permethrin doesn’t kill the eggs, but because it is long-lasting, it will kill the larvae after they hatch. Permethrin-treated clothing can be purchased from sporting goods stores, or you can mix up a permethrin solution to apply to your gear. Permethrin should not be applied to the skin except in extreme situations. While permethrin is available online through Amazon, consider supporting your local businesses and buying it at the feed store.


Preparing your defense strategy against these invaders who aren’t after your food or supplies, just you and your family, requires far less training and practice. It does require becoming aware, adopting and vigilantly maintaining strict protocols for water purification and food preparation, and keeping the property clean and free of standing water. It requires dressing well to avoid bites and practicing social distancing as much as possible to reduce contact with potential carriers of vermin and disease. It necessitates acquiring medications to treat possible infections, most of which cost far less than a box of ammo. Make sure you have the means to wash clothing and linens in hot water. Invest in a few bottles of permethrin and enough mosquito netting to cover beds. No, no one’s going to admire your pretty stash of doxycycline, or go ga-ga over your skill in using permethrin. These lethal weapons don’t make for exciting television fare or entertaining dinner discussion. But having several layers of protection and defense against silent and nearly invisible assassins bent on your destruction is always a good idea.


  1. treats your linens and clothing (not underwear) for a pretty penny. They do a very neat job, each item except socks comes back neatly folded with a sewn-on InsectShield label inside the item. They say it lasts 70 washings (as long as the treated clothing it sells) but probably closer to 30 IMHO and reading.

    When you self-treat cloth it only lasts thru a few washings. IMHO getting your bed sheets treated is a wise investment and I always wear a treated T shirt here in tick country.

    The permethrin sold in feed stores has some oil in it, the stuff sold by Insectshield and others to spray clothing does not, FWTIW. Around the web, people have done treatment in many different ways, boiling etc. One person reported using much too high a concentration in treating his pants and had resulting leg sores.

    I forget the recommended concentration of permethrin in the treating solution, it is around 3%, but check.

    Info I’ve seen in only one place: “The method that permethrin treated clothing LOSES its effectiveness is friction, removing the chemical molecules from the surface of the clothing, during washing and drying. So don’t wash often and air dry.”

  2. I hope this article will be followed by discussing prevention and treatment for pets and farm animals, especially those that can be shared with humans. I was subject to cutaneous worms acquired from skin contact with contaminated soil. My understanding is that this was caused by animal feces, although none was visibly present. Once diagnosed, it took almost 48 hours to obtain the incredibly expensive medication to eliminate them. This was in normal times with insurance.

    1. This would be a great topic for a vet to address. Some pets and farm animals, like cats and rabbits, are extremely sensitive to medications. I would imagine chickens, sheep, goats, and dogs have their own peculiarities as well.

  3. If you follow the CDC guidelines on Lyme, you will likely end up suffering physical and neurological effects until you die. Lyme is all over the mid-Atlantic and has been for years. Most doctors are not lyme-literate and the testing is virtually useless unless you catch it right away. I have a friend who died from the effects of untreated lyme. Many in our lyme association have recounted the changes in personality among humans and animals who are infected. And it is not just lyme, but other tick diseases. There is a lovely version where your body will not process red meat. It is not here according to the CDC, but it is here and if your doctor is not aware of it, then you are in trouble. I picked up my lyme infection 10 years ago in my back yard on the Delmarva Peninsula. Mine was untreated for years. And I did not understand what was happening to me until I saw a presentation on a local TV show. I attended a meeting where much was explained. I got to see a lyme-literate doctor who treated me and many of my symptoms have either gone away or at least been reduced. Know what is happening in your area.

    1. You are sounding the alarm, Buck. Good.

      I have been infected with Lyme disease four times. Only only once did have the rash. The joint and muscle symptoms are more reliable.

      Folks, if you are in any region that has tick of any kind, take precautions and ask a trusted person to do a thorough tick-check before you go to sleep. A bright flashlight is indispensable for this. SInce my sweet spouse has conducted routine tick-checks on me, I have had no Lyme disease. We have had many times with no tick found and know the time we slack off could be the one that the tick get us. Absolute vigilance is essential.

      Carry on

  4. Lyme disease is also contracted in wooded areas of northern Midwestern states. Because of its lack of prevalence, it’s hard to find medical care if you don’t present the classic symptoms and if you live in an area without the disease. My rash wasn’t the classic bullseye and I couldn’t get them to believe it was from some type of bug bite I got on vacation. Also important to note are other infections -called co-infections – one may also be infected with at the same time.

  5. Two anti-parasitic remedies that come to mind from our experience, are chlorine dioxide, and mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) seed. Chlorine dioxide is especially effective for veterinary applications. Mimosa pudica seed is one of the most gentle and effective in humans–paralyzing the parasites, so that they are swept out in the feces.

    Also helpful is a mixture of bitter herbs, including walnut hull, wormwood, hyssop, and others.

    These herbs should be taken immediately before eating, the hungry parasites get an unexpected and crippling meal. On the other hand, chlorine dioxide is better with food on the stomach.

    To deal with a case of worms, it is often necessary to continue the treatment consistently, at every meal, for 1-3 months.

    These ideas are based on experimentation, but have not been “FDA approved” or otherwise certified.

  6. Another important topic, and important educational contribution. Understanding risk on many levels is key to informed and reasonable situational assessment, and the prevention of illness and injury. This is important at any time, but even more so if access to health care services and treatments is limited (or nonexistent).

  7. Lots of relevant information. Thank you.
    Mosquitos can be dangerous.
    While fishing at some remote lakes in Canada, a fishermen experienced a serious reaction to a bite.
    His wedding band became a tourniquet. Thanks to an emergency room 2 hours away and a physician with the group, things turned out well.

    I am going to purchase some of those silicone wedding bands for future trips.
    I also like the “insect shield” recommendation.

    1. Livestock & pets become an attractant for all kinds of nasties, but there are methods of handling. If you have domestic animals or wildlife, there will be parasites seeking a free ‘meal’. We have always been pro-active with our animals. Frontline on all dogs & cats, (pretty cheap thru online, Sam’s, Costco, etc., plus methods listed in treatments/proactive measures in this article and replies. We use Frontline on our LGD’s.

      This is from a year ago:

    1. St. Funogas linked to a worthwhile article to read. … From the article linked, =

      “Bed bugs move from place to place in people’s belongings—for example, in boxes, bags, and luggage. They are extremely difficult to eliminate and can survive for months without taking a blood meal. Control of bed bugs is made more challenging by the fact that they are becoming >resistant (immune) to the ~>pyrethroid pesticides commonly used by most pest control personnel.” …

      “Keep in mind that using pyrethroids like Tempo® (cyfluthrin) and permethrin >may >not kill bed bugs. If not, try using a non-pyrethroid pesticide such as Durashield® (chlorpyrifos) or RaVap® (chlorpyrifos + dichlorovos) in the houses. RaVap® can be used with chickens present in the house (check the label), but Durashield® can only be used when the houses are empty and must be mixed and sprayed by a certified pest control person.
      Also, please note that Durashield® may not be on the “approved chemicals list” for some poultry companies. Make sure the label directions are followed when using these and other pesticides.”

  8. I had a friend that was infected with rocky mountain spotted fever. His doctor suggested that if bitten by a tick. Remove the tick stick it to a piece of tape, place in a plastic bag and put in the freezer. Keep it a least 3 weeks. That way if symptoms develop you can produce the tick for testing instead of going thru a spinal tap

  9. For years, I’ve stocked Ivermectin (available at all Tractor Supply stores), not cheap but not terribly expensive either (avail in different sizes), RID shampoo for lice, Permethrin, both spray (again, avail at Tractor supply) and cream we got by Rx.
    A couple other items we stock are Hornet spray (not for bees) and fly poison, fly paper and strips (one year +- shelf life, dries up).
    Re: mosquitos and flying pest, I have a mosquito bar (bed net) for every family member along with headnets (the good military issue style w/hoops inside so you can wear while sleeping, around $10-12ea. on ebay or Amz), lots of mosquito coils which work real well, citronella candles and I’ve planted a few creosote plants (mosquito plant) spaced around the yard and don’t forget a roll or two of window screening for repairs. We also have Tiki-Torches for summer yard fun and use citronella fuel in them.

    One item not mentioned although they definitely fall into the pest category is rodents. We have lots of mouse traps, rat traps and even mouse poison (which we don’t use because of pets but would if we had to)

    Most of these items are stored in a large see-through tote clearly marked ‘Pest Control’ and ‘Poison’

    Again, we don’t use these items, especially the poison’s on a regular basis, these items for the most part are only to be used during a long-term ‘Shummer Hits The Fan’ event when there is no other recourse and as a last resort.

    1. This is good advice.

      And J.S.R., I really appreciate your “wakeup call” last two paragraphs: These lethal weapons don’t make for exciting television fare or entertaining dinner discussion. But having several layers of protection and defense against silent and nearly invisible assassins bent on your destruction is always a good idea.

      Carry on

  10. I will say one thing about parasite control…. “IVERMECTIN”. We keep it on hand and use it to control internal and external parasites on our livestock.

    IVERMECTIN has been compared to Penicillin as a “wonder drug”.

    Discovered in the late-1970s, the pioneering drug ivermectin, a dihydro derivative of avermectin—originating solely from a single microorganism isolated at the Kitasato Intitute, Tokyo, Japan from Japanese soil—has had an immeasurably beneficial impact in improving the lives and welfare of billions of people throughout the world. Originally introduced as a veterinary drug, it kills a wide range of internal and external parasites in commercial livestock and companion animals. It was quickly discovered to be ideal in combating two of the world’s most devastating and disfiguring diseases which have plagued the world’s poor throughout the tropics for centuries. It is now being used free-of-charge as the sole tool in campaigns to eliminate both diseases globally. It has also been used to successfully overcome several other human diseases and new uses for it are continually being found. This paper looks in depth at the events surrounding ivermectin’s passage from being a huge success in Animal Health into its widespread use in humans, a development which has led many to describe it as a “wonder” drug.

    There are few drugs that can seriously lay claim to the title of ‘Wonder drug’, penicillin and aspirin being two that have perhaps had greatest beneficial impact on the health and wellbeing of Mankind. But ivermectin can also be considered alongside those worthy contenders, based on its versatility, safety and the beneficial impact that it has had, and continues to have, worldwide—especially on hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people. Several extensive reports have been published detailing the events behind the discovery, development and commercialization of the avermectins and ivermectin (22,23-dihydroavermectin B), as well as the donation of ivermectin and its use in combating Onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. However, none have concentrated in detail on the interacting sequence of events involved in the passage of the drug into human use.

    Ivermectin has continually proved to be astonishingly safe for human use. Indeed, it is such a safe drug, with minimal side effects, that it can be administered by non-medical staff and even illiterate individuals in remote rural communities, provided that they have had some very basic, appropriate training.

  11. K-Min, made by Daily Mfg Co., is a natural product in capsule form that can be taken to eliminate intestinal worms. It contains colloidal calcium and diatomaceous earth.

  12. Keeping your brush and grass cut short near your buildings both help reduce tick issues and reduce fire hazards (not likely to have Fire Department SHTF).

    Guinea Hens are tick eating machines. With little care they will happily keep your neighborhood nearly tick free. They are also great alarm systems when predators are around your chicken coops.

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