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Insect Repellents - Which Ones Keep Bugs At Bay?

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Insect Repellents - Which Ones Keep Bugs At Bay?

Postby ERIC » Mon May 22, 2006 8:18 am

Insect repellents
Which keep bugs at bay?


Consumer Reports
June 2006
http://www.consumerreports.org


Bzzzzzzzz ... swat! If those words made you wince, read on for results of our tests showing how well 18 repellents ward off mosquitoes and ticks. Some kept the little beasts away for at least 12 hours; others barely worked.

How we tested. A lab enlisted four victims--er, volunteers--who thrust treated arms into separate cages, each home to about 200 aedes mosquitoes, an aggressive species that can carry dengue fever, or about 200 culex mosquitoes, a calmer species that can carry West Nile virus. (Ours were uninfected.) Arms were exposed for five minutes at regular intervals. The effectiveness period was deemed over when a volunteer was bitten twice in a session or once in two consecutive sessions.

For tick tests, we placed about 12 uninfected, hungry deer ticks, the type that can transmit Lyme disease, on little test plates strapped to each of a volunteer's arms. A hole in each plate exposed a patch of skin, and our score was based on the number of times ticks walked over treated skin. We also tested Buzz Off Flick Tee, a permethrin-treated cotton shirt, which claims to repel insects for 25 washings.

What we found. Hours of protection correlated with deet concentration. The top-rated Deep Woods Off is 98 percent deet, and several products with 30 to 34 percent deet were very good, protecting for an average of at least five hours. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found deet safe when used according to directions (not under clothing, in an open cut, or with sunscreen), but some people dislike its scent or feel. Use the lowest concentration that works, especially on kids, and don't use deet on infants. The best nondeet product was Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus, but volunteers criticized its odor. In tests last year, Cutter Advanced with 7 percent picaridin repelled mosquitoes well, but this time we found less protection.

In lab tests, the Buzz Off Flick Tee didn't work well. Within 2 minutes, aedes mosquitoes had bitten the lab director at least 35 times through material washed once. Some research suggests that permethrin-treated fabric might work better outdoors, but even a treated T-shirt won't protect bare arms.

CR's take. Products containing at least 30 percent deet worked very well; most of the botanicals we tested were middling or worse.


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Postby caddis » Mon May 22, 2006 4:44 pm

I'd rather put on 30% DEET once or twice a day (7 to 14 hours worth of protection) then put one 100% DEET for a 12 hour period....that's stuffs eats through plastic
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Postby ERIC » Mon May 22, 2006 5:28 pm

Even the 30% is known to destroy a perfectly good pair of sunglasses... #-o
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Postby SteveB » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:07 pm

I used to use Ultrathon from 3M. Worked great! :) Then I noticed one afternoon that my fingers and arms got a bit numb shortly after applying it. :eek: Don't think it was an allergic reaction, but haven't used it since! Got some Off! Deep Woods (or whatever it's called) that seems to work OK.
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Postby BSquared » Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:08 pm

Anybody tried treating their clothes with permethrin (and/or buying the [very expensive] "buzz-off" clothing from Ex Officio)? My standard long-sleeved T-shirt (for evening wear) turns out to be a pretty good perching site for mosquitos and WAY too thin to prevent a bite or sixteen.
Last edited by BSquared on Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby gary c. » Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:15 pm

BSquared wrote:Anybody tried treating their clothes with permethrin (and/or buying the [very expensive] "buzz-off" clothing from Ex Officio)? My standard long-sleeved T-shirt (for evening wear) turns out to be a pretty good perching site for mosquitos and WAY too think to prevent a bite or sixteen.


Thats why I always try to make sure I buy the aerosol. For some reason it seems there favorite place to bite me is on the shoulders right thru my shirt. It also seems to be where the welts get the worst.
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Postby jdub » Thu Jun 08, 2006 1:29 pm

When it comes to Mosquitos and the Sierras, all of the products mentioned above only by you time. They will wear off and the bugs will find you. Every year I pack some type of repellent, use it all, and am fighting mosquitos the entire time. It drives me crazy that I cover my body in some form of cancer causing deet, and still have to contend with mosquitos.
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Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:32 pm

I used so much deet one summer I could taste in in my system, even during the week when I wasn't using it. My friends running watch melted. My nailpolish melted. Another friend didn't wash his hands good and got some on his contact and went blind for a day. I quit using it, afraid I was soaking myself in chemicals week after week.

I got a bug suit, and spray it with Cutter unscented when the bugs get bad. I also use Premethin for my clothes.
For the bugs that get thru, I carry a small dab of Prep H in a container, and dab the bite as soon as I get it, or when I feel the itch. Once you scratch, it swells and won't stop itching. Prep H reduces swelling and itching, just like the ad says!

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Postby DJG » Wed Jun 21, 2006 6:49 pm

Another vote for the premethin for pre-trip treatment of clothes. Any bug loves my wife (I love her too but I don't draw blood) and we have had good success using that along with a dab of the deet as needed on the exposed skin. Hate to use a headnet but there have been times when I was glad I brought it along.

Thanks for the tip about the Prep H, Sue will be thankful too as she also reacts strongly to all those bug bites.

Years ago before going on surf trips to tropical Mexico we were told to take regularly a quantity of vitamin B1 (I think), but not sure if even a baseball bat would have kept those bugs away. Anybody else ever try the B1 approach?

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Postby Ratboy » Wed Jun 21, 2006 6:55 pm

Permethrin, or however it is spelled, works great. Like AMEX, don't leave home without it, or at least treat clothing prior to heading out.

As far as "bug juice" goes, I have never had a problem with stuff melting or falling apart when using DEET based repellent...Muskol or REI Jungle Juice is what I have used in the past and have had no ill effects on myself or my gear...Did spray myself in the eye once, and walked for about 10 minutes blinking like I had a nervous tick, but recovered without incident.

I guess everyone has their favorite thing; but I am a believer in Permethrin, used it last year in August and September when hiking Garnet to Ediza on a two nighter, and North Fork on Lone Pine Creek for a two nighter. Not a single bite or even a landing by the bugs. While a guy I met was covered by the mosquitos, I mean covered, they used him like a landing pad, I was clean and clear of any buzzing at all.

Take care; just my experience.
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