All of us who spend any amount of time outdoors are sooner or later going to encounter the bane of all outdoor activities: the tick. Here in New England we all fear the deer tick and for good reason. Ticks can potentially carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (mainly out west) and Lyme Disease being just two of them. While there is no way to totally avoid ticks, there are ways that we can protect ourselves.
It is recommended that we spray ourselves with insect repellent before we ever head out. It is also important that we treat our pets. While most of the insect repellents on the market work well, they all have one thing in common. They all contain a chemical called D.E.E.T. It has been proven that DEET does repel insects. It has also been proven that long term exposure to DEET can lead to cancer. Wanting to be protected from ticks while at the same time trying to stay away from harmful chemicals, I did some research and discovered Green Mountain Tick Repellent, or GMTR.
Based in the town of Dorset, Vermont which is in the heart of the Green Mountain Region, they are relatively close to my home in New Hampshire so I contacted Victoria DiMonda and Glenn Gunther, the founders of GMTR, to see if I could pay them a visit. What I found when I arrived really impressed me. Sitting on a hill off of Vermont Route 30 sits a non-descript long cabin and it is here where Victoria and Glenn live and where GMTR was born. There is no fancy machinery or production line here. Everything is done by hand right on the kitchen table, though Victoria did say that they had order a machine that would help them put the labels on the bottles, but it was not in at the time of my visit.
Glenn and Victoria filling bottles at kitchen table.
As she and Glenn sat at the table, syringes in hand, putting exact amounts of ingredients into each bottle, I asked Victoria, who is a nurse by trade, why in the world did she get into the tick repellent business. “My daughter is a tick magnet. Every time she would go out she came back with ticks on her”, Victoria told me. She went on to say that they had gotten a Labrador Retriever puppy and after a few minutes outside he was covered with ticks. “I had had enough and I knew that I had to do something.” Being a nurse she knew the adverse effects of DEET and she didn’t want to expose her children to that. She also didn’t want to expose her puppy to the harsh chemicals found in typical pet tick treatments. She started experimenting and finally came up with the formula for Green Mountain Tick Repellent. She sprayed her kids and dogs with the product and got satisfactory results. With no intentions of ever going into business, Victoria gave some of the product to family and friends who were hunters, fishermen and loggers. They tried it and found that it worked. They in turn told their friends. Soon local stores, farm stands and neighbors were asking her about GMTR and a business was born. Victoria said, “Because we are working with different oils it is impossible to mix a large batch and then have every bottle come out with the precise amounts of those oils. Each type of oil is different and they separate. That is why each time you use it you have to shake the bottle.” I had never thought of that and it made sense to me.
The business officially was started in 2011 when the name Green Mountain Tick Repellent was registered and licensed. From there the business grew in leaps and bounds. Today the product is found in stores throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia and California. Some areas can’t keep the product in stock. According to Glenn about 20 percent of their business is on-line sales and 80% is retail sales. They have done some advertising, but most of their business is generated through word of mouth.
So what makes GMTR so good? Well, it has to be its’ main ingredient which is Rose Geranium. According to Victoria, through extensive research she found that Rose Geranium is a natural tick repellent. Ticks seem to not like its smell. What Victoria does is mix precise amounts of the oil from the Rose Geranium with the oil from Lemon Grass and other essential oils. It has to be exact amounts, so Victoria and Glenn do everything by hand to ensure the proper amounts go into each bottle.
Glenn filling bottles with a syringe.
After listening to both Victoria and Glenn; seeing the passion that they put into the product and reading some of the testimonies, I bought a bottle and decided to put it through its paces. My first stop after leaving the shop was the White Rocks National Recreation Area which is part of the Green Mountain National Forest. Here I hiked about two miles of the Appalachian Trail which took me through some pretty heavy brush. I emerged tick free, though the black flies did a number on me. The repellent passed its first test. I next paid a visit to the Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area. There are no trails here, but Otter Creek does offer some great fishing. Bushwhacking through tall grass and brush I reached the river. If I was going to get ticks this would have been the place. As it turned out I once again escaped tick free, but I did catch a nice 18 inch Rainbow trout for my efforts. Still not convinced, I’ve been told I doubt everything; I took a bottle to Kentucky with me. While there I hiked and fished in some pretty remote areas teaming with tall grass and brush. Once again I walked away tick free. Well, now I am convinced and a bottle of Green Mountain Tick Repellent has found a home in both my truck and my backpack.
Green Mountain Tick Repellent is hand-made and bottled in Vermont under precise measurements. If you are concerned about the adverse effects of chemicals and want a product made right here in the United States, I highly recommend that you give this product a try. You can reach GMTR at the contact information below:
Green Mountain Tick Repellent