i'm perhaps a bit overly cautious of ticks & lyme disease stuff.
Perhaps. But my wife has chronic Lyme Disease, and it is no joke. I visited a family last week, the husband also has chronic Lyme. He is bedridden and unresponsive. Really tragic.
As dorky as it looks, I've always thought the most effective means of preventing ticks was to tuck your pants into your socks and then spray your socks down with DEET or picaridin, or dust them with sulfur powder.
I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. -Soren Kierkegaard
Sawyer pump bottle is most popular (can find it even at Walmart) but the stuff sold at Tractor Supply and other farm related supplies is much better. You MUST dilute it, It's toxic to cats and fish in its liquid state, but after its dry its fine.
There are a lot of posts here and elsewhere on the web on how to use it, dilution ratios etc.
You can even purchase clothing that is pre-treated that will last for at least 50 washings.
As for pants, if you're rich and famous Rail Riders makes a great hiking pant that is designed to fit over boot tops. I've had them for years. Gaiters will work too. Look at the Mountain Laurel Design ones. they make a shortie for trail runners, but I never use those, I much prefer a boot. but that's another thread.