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Take the ‘Slap’ Out of Bug Season

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By Karen Youso

mosquito-7-10-cons-topRISMEDIA, July 10, 2009-(MCT)-If you’ve been out camping, fishing or working in the garden, then chances are you’ve been smacking, slapping and itching. Mosquitoes, those (bleeping) bloodthirsty spoilers of outdoor summer fun – and their biting friends, black flies, gnats and no-see-ums – are busily, buzzily feasting upon us.

The standard defense against the hungry horde, DEET-based repellent, now has new company: armaments that are effective yet easier and generally safer to use, especially around children. And you’ll never guess where this new muscle is coming from – flowers, with a nod to the vitamin shelf.

BugBand Insect Repellent uses geraniol, an essential oil derived from geraniums that smells good to us, but not to mosquitoes. It keeps the little pests (flies, midges and gnats, too) from alighting and biting. Geraniol’s natural tendency to evaporate makes it effective for use in wristbands, which is lot less messy than sprays or lotions, and in bead form to make the back yard a bite-free zone. Four bands sell for around $15 at REI, Target and www.bugband.net.

Don’t Bite Me! Patch employs vitamin B1 to turn away mosquitoes. When vitamin B1 (thiamine) metabolizes in the body, it gives off a slight odor that insects don’t like. The patch must be put on two hours before outdoor activity to give B1 time to absorb into the bloodstream and out the body’s pores. Thiamine is generally considered safe, even at high doses, because excess is excreted in the urine. Lasting up to 36 hours and staying on when wet, the Don’t Bite Me! Patch is available at www.dontbitemepatchstore.com (five for $5; 20 for $16). For free shipping, type “STAR” into the coupon code space.

Insect Shield garments and gear are infused with permethrin, a synthetic copy of the natural insect repellent found in chrysanthemums. It’s odorless insect protection that’s proven to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges (no-see-ums), according to the manufacturer. Items range from $12-$100 at Gander Mountain, Blaine; Midwest Mountaineering, Minneapolis; Hoigaards, St. Louis Park, many REI stores and www.insectshield.com.

Allclear Cordless Mosquito Mister is an outdoor spray that uses pyrethrins. Portable and operated by remote control, it dispenses a fine mist that in 3 minutes can make 2,000 square feet insect-free for up to six hours. It does this by killing the mosquitoes. Pyrethrins affect the insects’ nervous system, but are considered low in toxicity and break down rapidly in the environment, the manufacturer says. However, pyrethrins will kill any insect, including butterflies and ladybugs. The manufacturer says the solution is diluted to kill very small insects on contact such as mosquitoes, gnats and no-see-ums. Consumers are urged to treat their yards only when and where they need mosquito protection, but not around surface water: Pyrethins are toxic to fish and aquatic life. Use around the pool; not the lake. Do not mist when people, food, or pets are present. About $500 at www.allclearmister.com and www.frontgate.com.

Mosquito ‘Cognito is a battery-operated fan device that disperses into outdoor settings linalool, an essential oil found in many flowers and spice plants. Called Conceal by the manufacturer, linalool has a unique “scent blocking” ability. It messes up the insects’ olfactory receptors so they can’t easily find their prey. The product claims it reduces mosquito landings on people and animals by up to 80%. It is safe to use around people, food and lakes, but area size and number of people protected are limited. About $35 from www.nomorebites.com.

Conceal Outdoor Mosquito Candle. Using the same Conceal ingredient in a candle form, this is not your garden variety citronella candle. Citronella smells bad, so it forces mosquitoes to move around until they find an unprotected target.

Conceal makes it difficult for a mosquito to smell anything or anyone, so they can’t find their targets at all. Effective up to 100 feet, Conceal candles are available at Yankee Candle stores and online at Frontgate.com starting at around $12.

© 2009, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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