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Repelling Mosquites

Repelling Mosquitos by Lindsay Woods

If there is one thing about the great outdoors that I really hate and has caused me to even opted out of a trip or two, it is mosquitos. Anyone who has spent a time swatting away mosquitoes, or scratching mosquito bites, can agree mosquitoes suck. In my research to find a best way to deal with these flying blood sucking nuisances, I have come to understand the problem is the smells we humans produce are a big part of what draws mosquitos to us.

Mosquitoes are part of the fly family, and most of the time, they feed on nectar. However, females preparing to produce eggs need a meal with extra protein, your blood. As I can attest, getting bitten will just leave you with an itchy red bump. But mosquito bites can turn deadly, thanks to parasites and viruses the insects transmit. One of the most dangerous of these diseases is malaria. It is my understanding that malaria has been eradicated in the States, but the disease remains a danger to much of the world.

West Nile Virus, on the other hand, is still a risk here in the states. According to the CDC West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States.  It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. You can reduce your risk of WNV by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.

In my search for a better way to prevent bites I have come across a couple of options that I have recently tested and found to be quite effective.

The first is a 3M™ product named Ultrathon which can be bought as an aerosol or lotion depending upon your desired application method. According to the the 3M product description Ultrathon Insect Repellent is designed to provide superb protection against mosquitoes that may carry viruses such as Zika, West Nile and Dengue Fever. This insect repellent lasts up to eight hours for aerosol and twelve hours for the lotion against mosquitoes with proprietary 3M Time-Release Technology. Formulated with a polymer, this mosquito repellent traps DEET and releases it over skin surfaces for long-lasting protection for the whole family. Sweat and splash resistant, you can enjoy your outdoor adventure without having to worry about frequent reapplication. Give yourself and your family trusted protection. I know there may be some of you that won’t use products with Deet so that leads me to my second product. Here is the information from the Sawyer website about the product.

Sawyer Permethrin is for use on clothing, tents, sleeping bags, and other outdoor gear. Sawyer Permethrin repels or kills disease-spreading ticks (Lyme disease), mosquitoes (West Nile and Zika viruses) and more than 55 other kinds of insects. Perfect for camping, backpacking, hunting, travel, backyard BBQs, picnics, and more, Permethrin insect and tick repellent adds an odorless layer of protection to shirts, jackets, pants, socks, shoes, sleeping bags, tents, netting, and other outdoor, camping, hunting, and travel gear.

A University of Rhode Island study (2011) found that people wearing Permethrin-treated shoes and socks were 73.6 times less likely to have a tick bite than those wearing untreated footwear. Using it on outdoor gear also helps reduce the mosquito population in your camp and prevents ticks from attaching to you. Permethrin spray bonds to fabric fibers for up to six weeks (42 days) of exposure to sun and air or six washings.

Specially formulated not to stain or damage your clothing, other fabrics, gear, and equipment, it’s odorless after drying and is as effective as 100% DEET. To apply, spray Permethrin directly onto clothing and gear with a slow sweeping motion, keeping the bottle about six to eight inches away, and treating each side of the garment for about 30 seconds. The product is odorless after drying, Sawyer Permethrin Fabric Treatment can be used to treat a variety of fabrics like clothing, gear, and tents. A successful application of this insect repellent treatment is effective against mosquitoes and ticks for six weeks or six washes.

The EPA recommends using 4.5 ounces of Permethrin to spray each outfit (consisting of shirt, pants, and socks). Maximize protection by pairing with Sawyer Picaridin topical repellent for the skin.

After my research I decided to give the aforementioned products a try on a recent outing in a mosquito rich environment. I applied the Sawyer Permethrin to my clothes and sleeping bag and applied the Ultrathon product to my skin. After 3 days and 2 nights I was pleased to find that while others were serving themselves up as a buffet for our flying friends, I did not have a single bite. Success! As for the Sawyer Picaridin product I have it on good authority from our Treasurer, Tracy Wood, that he recently used the lotion and had the same results.

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