Drawing on their family’s experiences with tick-borne diseases, an Edgecomb couple has started a business that offers organic lawn treatments to kill and repel ticks.
Heather and Eric Brewer, formerly of Newcastle Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Viper, launched Nervous Ticks in April.
Eric Brewer worked as the dealership’s service manager for 23 years, while Heather Brewer worked as his service adviser for five years.
Three years ago, the family started to use an organic solution “to find a better way to combat ticks, primarily in our own yard, with our own animals and children,” Heather Brewer said. They also sprayed yards for family and friends.
“I think a lot of families, especially in New England, have experiences or know somebody that has been infected with a tick-borne disease,” Heather Brewer said. “It’s scary. We live in a great area – nature at its finest. Our environment is beautiful here … but we needed to find a different way, besides using pesticides and insecticides, to get rid of and repel ticks.”
One of the Brewers’ daughters was diagnosed with Lyme disease in eighth grade. She temporarily lost her vision and the use of her right arm and hand, but experienced a full recovery after taking antibiotics.
Last year, she was infected again with both Lyme and babesiosis, another tick-borne disease in which microscopic parasites infect and destroy red blood cells.
While growing up in Connecticut, Heather Brewer was diagnosed with Lyme disease at 6 years old. She was diagnosed again three years ago.
For their lawn treatments, the Brewers decided on an all-natural combination of cedar oil, peppermint oil, lactic acid, and guava extract.
They first treated their lawn themselves after their Boston terrier had a reaction to pesticides.
A non-organic lawn treatment company had come to the Brewer home to spray their yard. The family waited two full days to let their dog out, but the dog still suffered from hives and a closing throat. The dog required an emergency visit to the veterinarian, but is now fine.
“It was after that that we really opened our eyes and realized, if this is what it’s doing to our family dog, what is it doing to our environment, our well water, our children, us?” Heather Brewer said.
The Brewers purchase their all-natural treatment in bulk from a company in Connecticut that produces organic yard products.
They refer to the solution as “liquid gold.” In addition to killing ticks, it kills fleas, mosquitoes, and black flies, but is safe for bees and butterflies.
Nervous Ticks is a home-based business. “Eric and I don’t want to become larger than us,” Heather Brewer said, meaning they will do all the work, from preparing estimates to spraying lawns.
At first, it was hard to find a name for their business that was not already taken, Heather Brewer said. The play on words – Nervous Ticks – was her idea during a dinner out.
“One evening while we were sitting at King Eider’s for dinner, it dawned on me as I’m looking at my husband fiddling with something,” Heather Brewer said. Now, they both love the name.
The couple will travel as far south on the coast as Brunswick and Harpswell, as far north on the coast as Rockland and Rockport, and as far inland as Gardiner, Eric Brewer said. They serve commercial and residential clients.
When the Brewers treat a lawn, they use battery-operated backpack sprayers that hold up to 4 gallons of solution, Heather Brewer said. The spray nozzles have a 20-foot reach, so the solution can get into the woods behind a family’s house.
They focus on the perimeter of a property, as well as areas where children and animals play.
Their goal is to spray known high-volume areas for ticks, which include shaded and damp spaces, such as garden beds, shrubs, and rock walls.
After a yard is sprayed, a trace of cedar oil scent remains, Heather Brewer said.
Unlike after application of many pesticide solutions, families do not have to wait to go outside. The organic solution dries within an hour, Eric Brewer said.
It takes about a day or two after a call for the Brewers to respond and spray a property. The average lawn takes the couple an hour to treat.
The service costs about $100 per acre on average; however, each property is different, Heather Brewer said. More high-volume areas for ticks increases the price of the service.
The pests are killed on contact and there is a residual repellent effect for 30 days.
The couple recommends monthly treatments; however, they will customize a schedule to a customer’s preferences, Eric Brewer said. According to their website, they will also spray once for any special outdoor event.
Nervous Ticks will be open from April to October, and can be reached at any time. “Depending on the weather is when we’re spraying,” Heather Brewer said.