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What are your favorite/most effective insect repellent or other means of repelling insects?


Preventing insect bites is important just from a disease prevention point of view. And insects can make a camping experience unpleasant.


Personally I avoid using DEET unless I have to. Despite what is said, DEET is a neuro toxin. The containers are covered with all kinds of precautions yet many use it without question. Those precautions would not be there for no reason.


I never use DEET on my skin. Only on clothing items (hat, boots, legs of shorts or pants, and once in a while on the shoulder area of a shirt of jacket. I will apply it to the outside of my tent near the door. DEET insect repellents come in many concentrations. I try to use the lowest concentration possible that works. Sprying it along the bottom of the door of a tent helps keep crawling insection out of a tent.


Main thing is to read the instructions and follow them.


In fact I avoid using any insect repellent on my skin if possible.


For skin, I prefer plant based products such as citronella, cactus extract, etc.


Johnson, the makers of "Off" has one called "OFF! Botanicals" that seems to work well. There is one called "CACTUS JUICE" that works pretty good. And most of the citronella (Repel is the brand that comes to mind) repellents work ok for mosquitoes and gnats (I have not found it effective for chiggers or ticks). I once heard that "Skin So Soft" from Avon was effective against mosquitoes. I found that it actually attracted moquitoes and other insects.


I prefer to use non-pressurized pump type spray bottles of insect repellent rather than the pressured types as many of those contain propellants that are harmful to the environment and the spray is often hard to control and it at least appears that a lot of the repellent is wasted because of over spray. Lotions are okay but then you get the stuff on your hands. Probably the little sticks of insect repellents are better than the lotions because you can avoint getting the repellent on your hands.


Using citronella candles or oil lamps is also effective against mosquitoes and gnats. But don't breat the smoke or funmes from burning citronells. The other bad thing about this is that the bugs are only repelled in a very small area. Can also be a fire hazard.


If the mosquitoes, ticks, or chiggers are REAL bad in an area, we sometimes will use an outdoor fogger such as Yard Guard prior to occupying the campsite. These are INSECTICIDES rather than repellents - meaning they kill insects rather than repell them.(Don't use these types of products around bodies of water or where people will inhale the mist). Spray it in an area and back out leaving the mist to settle for a while before occupying it. Many of those foggers contain Permethrin which is a good insecticide that will last up to two weeks. Given the principles of leave no trace and just the general reluctance to use chemicals, we avoid this but sometimes health and safety by preventing insect bites takes priority.


The most common insect problems in our area are mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers. We try to check out a site before actually setting up and it there is evidence of any insect infestation we try to take precautions prior to setting up camp - including using a fogger if needed. I have been in camps where you could sit and watch the ticks crawling all over the low lying brush!


I have also tried, with some success the little high frequnecy sound producing insect repellers. But their range is small. I usually clip one to my cap or packstrap. They seem to help if the mosquitoes are real bad.


Sometimes just staying as clean and odor free as possible is a good method of repelling insections. Be careful of fragrances in soaps, shampoos and lotions those - they can actually attract insects. Try to use unsented products. And of course keep food and drink covered and keep soiled clothing in a bag or other container. Close latrine commode lids, and keep trash containers closed.


Mosquito netting is also effective for sleeping. Most summer camp tents are open, so I put up a mosquito net over my cot.


Most of us dislike the smoke from a camp or cooking fire, but it can be a good insect repellent. We have actual started and kept a good smokey campfire going in areas where mosquitoes are a problem.





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  • 1 month later...

Interesting thoughts...


The only commercial bug "repellent" that I've ever used that was the least bit effective was a bug spray with a high concentration of DEET.


Other than that, my personal experience has shown me that the only thing that really is guaranteed to work in repelling bugs would have to be smoke-- from a campfire; from a punk stick; from a cigarette; from a candle. It's only the smoke that works, and not the natural citronella scent or anything like that...


I have heard, but I'm a little skeptical, that ferns are a natural bug repellent. I once participated in a wilderness survival overnighter, and I used ferns as my bedding... they seemed to work very well in repelling bugs (I had very few mosquiotoe bites and no ticks on me after that night).



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I use DEET. Actually, I apply it to bread and eat the bread which makes the DEET come out in my sweat. JOKING!


I do use DEET. 100% DEET. I've tried Skin-So-Soft and other products and have found that they don't work too well, if at all.

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I never use repellant. I manage just fine by hanging around persons known to be fresh meat for the invertebrates. What's that popping sound?...people slapping themselves silly trying to kill the flying hordes. Maybe I'm just too mean but they don't bother with me. A few bites now and then but the itching goes away quickly. And anyway, once you survive West Nile you don't have to worry about it again.

But here's one thing that you can do. Mosquitoes usually don't travel far so if you use a fine mesh sweep net to clear the area, it will last for quite a while. We used this in the blackwater swamps of south Georgia, camping in July and August, and it worked fairly well.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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I stick to the higher DEET (20-25%) aerosols. My preference is:


1. 3M Ultrathon

2. Off Deep Woods

3. Cutter Backwoods - though I used to hate the smell of Cutter sprays - maybe their better now.


I don't like the lotions since they are very hard to apply to cloth. I'm not thrilled with most pump sprays.


Though I haven't tried it myself, I've read that 100% DEET is nasty oily stuff, and that concentrations less than 50% are quite sufficient for most needs.


When mosquitos are thick, the 3M Ultrathon provides very good protection as long with two applications after each meal.

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There is a thread from the past you might look into.


A little garlic in my diet and lack of sodas seem to help. Also using a little sulfur powder around exposed areas seems keeps the little darlin's away.

Also being around those that attact them is a definite option.



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Hey I just stumbled upon a theory (somewhat impractical) that just might work! The theory is that mosquitoes find their way to humans (and other animals) by the amount of carbon dioxide concentration in the air from which we respire (if that is a word). Therefore, if you could somehow MISGUIDE the mosquitoes away from you, using dry ice (frozen CO2), it just might work!


If you were to use dry ice for refrigeration purposes earlier in your camping trip, you could find some use in disposing of it...

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The 'flowers of sulfur' thing, I'm not sure it really works, and I've tried. Picking wild plums early in June and blackberries in late June. But it is only intended for chiggers and ticks. Chiggers! Now those are nasty things to get right before you have to give a public speech or similar visible presence. It feels so good to scratch that resistance is almost impossible. And they seem to find the tenderest places. Mmmmmmmm, goooooood.



But ticks, I just pull them quickly and if there's an infection I get the antibiotics and wipe the old slate clean, so to speak. Couple dozen so far this year, no infections yet.

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Another thought about ticks: I have a theory about body hair. My theory is this. Body hairs have very sensitive nerves associated with them (one of the reasons that nose hairs are so doggone annoying). I think this is one of the reasons certain individuals shave their skin (or get those exquisite wax jobs) - those hairs are not unsightly, they tickle (no pun intended).

But a tick, as it wanders but fails to bump into non-existent hairs on such skin, is less likely to be noticed than for those of us who are hirsute. It would be interesting to see if this skews the incidence of Lyme disease, for example. This calls for an experiment....

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In two weeks I'll be going to Resident camp with my cubbies. Our camp has A LOT of insects so I've ordered a spray bottle of Permethrin to apply on my tent.


I always bring my own tent to camp because the insects are so friendly. The plan is to spray around the entire door area of the tent before I leave home and let it dry overnight. I am told that this stuff works very well. I'll let everyone know the results when I come home.


The insect repellent clothing sounds great, but it also sounds impractical for the most part. Most of the kids (and adults) bring multiple sets of clothing to wear during their stay at camp. Each $7.00 bottle of Permethrin should treat 2 sets of clothing according to the manufacturer. It could be $20.00 worth of Permethrin to treat the clothes that most people bring for a 5 day stay at camp. I think that's a little pricey.


I normally use deet, anything over 20%, for the most part. I stay away from the 100%. Almost 10 years ago I spent time fishing in Canada about 8 hours north of Toronto. The flies and mosquito's were so bad that I used the 100% deet. I don't remember it as being overly effective, I still got the stuff bit out me!


Old wives tale.......Eat Garlic!!!!!!!!!!

(This message has been edited by fotoscout)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Folks,


Sorry, no report on the effectiveness of Permethrin this time.


True to form, if I pitch a tent it gets wet!!!!!! Instructions for the Permethrin state that it should be applied to a dry surface and then allowed to dry for two hours. If it wasnt raining last week, it was too humid for anything to dry. So Ive put my little test on hold until the next time I pitch a tent.


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Permethrin update.


Its the best week of the summer in this part of the country and Im stuck in the office :( ! To put this great weather to good use I decided to continue with my Permethrin exercise. So Saturday afternoon I put my tent up in the backyard to dry, and dry it did!


Sunday, I sprayed both the front and backdoors of the tent. I also sprayed the underside of the rain fly all around the doors. This tent is a TL-6 Outfitter. Many of you probably know that the bugs like to assemble in the area around the junction tubes, so I also sprayed those areas. I raised the zipper flaps and also sprayed the zippers and flaps.


Last night I went out to look at the tent and WOW did this stuff do the job. There were no live bugs anywhere around the areas that I sprayed, and there were dead bugs lying on the ground at the bottom of the doors.


My main concern has always been mosquitoes. Our camp has some of the largest mosquitoes I have ever seen. They like to perch on the tents and scoot inside as soon as you open the door. Then when its time to go to sleep they go into a feeding frenzy. When it comes to bugs, my backyard is certainly no comparison to our camp, but Im sure that this will help considerably the next time Im at camp.


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