Neem oil has a well-earned reputation as being something of a cure-all. It has become one of the most popular natural plant insecticides on the market.
Depending on whether it’s applied systemically or externally, neem can also combat various fungal, bacterial, and microbial infections.
But did you know it also kills pests beyond insects? Spider mites are related to spiders and other arachnids.
As a result, neem oil can kill spider mites and is a type of miticide on top of being an insecticide, fungicide, etc.
Neem oil has been one of the most-used substances in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 5,000 years and is in many healthcare products today.
This leads to a logical question: If neem oil is a miticide and is used on humans, will it work against ticks?
Does Neem Oil Kill Ticks?
The good news is that neem does kill ticks (as well as fleas and mites).
The bad news is it doesn’t kill instantly and you must use caution.
Neem And Pets: What You Need To Know
The ASPCA does not consider the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) toxic to cats, dogs, or horses.
Yet, when ingested in more than trace quantities, it can have severe side effects.
In humans, this may include:
- Vomiting in adults
- Brain disorders or comas in children
For this reason, toothpaste containing neem is best used only by adults to avoid accidental swallowing of more than a tiny amount.
As for pets: dogs and horses are generally safe around neem shampoos. Use care that those shampoos have the proper dilution (usually one part neem per ten parts other ingredients).
Cats have more sensitive skin and are heavy groomers, so it’s much easier for them to suffer an allergic reaction or ingest neem residue. Thus, it’s best to avoid using neem on them.
Look for these symptoms of a pet ingesting too much neem:
convulsions, impaired movement, over-salivation, and twitching.
As a result, it’s best to practice extreme caution when treating a pet with neem and ensure they don’t groom afterward.
How Neem Kills Ticks
Neem oil is not an instant killer, and this tends to make it seem ineffectual.
But it can affect a tick in two ways: topically and internally.
When directly sprayed with a neem foliar spray (1 teaspoon clarified hydrophobic neem oil per quart of emulsified water), the neem clogs the tick’s airways, causing it to suffocate.
Conversely, when the tick ingests a mix of 2 tablespoons 100% percent cold-pressed raw neem oil per gallon of emulsified water (used as a neem soil drench), it will cause them to lose their appetite, become infertile, and starve to death.
Due to the risk of side effects, it’s a bad idea to ingest the raw neem mixture, so you should only apply it topically.
Applying Neem To Pets
As mentioned, use caution, especially with cats.
Dilute one part raw neem oil in ten parts vegetable or coconut oil to make homemade shampoo.
DO NOT use a commercial neem shampoo on cats, as severe illness and even death have been cases.
Wash your pet and leave the oil on for up to ten minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Avoid getting the shampoo near the pet’s face.
If needed, use an E-collar to keep the pet from grooming until they’ve been thoroughly rinsed and dried.
Applying Neem To Humans
You may use the above recipe as a miticidal lotion on adults but should use caution with young children.
The neem oil will break down when exposed to ultraviolet light, so it works better against a tick that has already latched on.
It will cause the tick to dislodge and slowly die.
Applying To Your Yard
You can use the neem soil soak recipe mentioned above in a garden sprayer at dusk or dawn to kill any ticks hiding in your yard.
Spray the ground thoroughly, being careful not to let the mixture contact garden or ornamental plants. Raw neem can cause allergic reactions or burns in many plants.
Repeated the process every 1 to 2 weeks during the summer as needed.