Insect repellants

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Insect repellants

Post by edfrank » Wed May 16, 2012 10:14 am

NTS, today I received as part of an advertisement from Ben Meadows a nice overview of the available insect repellants:
Insect Repellents

Here in Wisconsin, we’ve been waiting all winter long for spring to come so we can wear shorts and short sleeves again. Now that spring is here, we have to admit our sun-deprived arms and legs aren’t the most attractive. It could be worse - they could be riddled with bug bites! The mild winter has led some experts to warn that this could be a banner year for problem insects. This is why we want to share what we know about bug repellents to help you keep your extremities free of bites.

When it comes to insect repellents, the main things to look for are what active ingredients they contain and the percentage of those ingredients. Typically as you go up in percentage, the more effective and longer lasting the repellent will be. However, this also means the more expensive and harsher it might be. Below we’ve listed several active ingredients that can be found in common repellents:

DEET (also known as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) has been one of the most effective bug repellents since it was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946. There have been some questions regarding its toxicity. According to the EPA, if it is used according to the product label, it will not present a health concern. While being one of the most effective options (and considered the gold standard for insect repellent) the downsides are its strong smell, greasy feeling and corrosive characteristics when it comes in contact with synthetic clothing and some plastics.

Picaridin (also known as Icaridin or KBR 3023) is a DEET-free alternative that became available in the U.S. in 2005. Studies have shown it to be as effective as DEET, but what makes Picaridin an attractive option is that it doesn’t have the same smelly and greasy characteristics as DEET. Plus it will not eat away at plastics or synthetic clothing. The downside is that Picaridin is not commonly available in higher concentrations. Common brand names that use Picaridin are Cutter® Advanced™, OFF! ® Skintastic® and Natrapel®.

IR3535® (also known as SkinSmart®) is another DEET-free alternative, introduced to the U.S. in 1999, IR3535 has similar characteristics as Picaradin; less greasiness and smell than DEET. Despite some mixed findings on its effectiveness it still remains one of the most recommended insect repellents by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).

Permethrin (also known as Permanone®) is different from other repellents in that it should not be sprayed directly on your skin. It is made to be sprayed on clothing or gear. Permethrin can be harmful if the liquid comes in contact with your skin, which is why you should wait for your clothing/gear to completely dry before using. Once it’s dry, Permethrin is safe to use and will last for several weeks and several washings. Permethrin works great against flying, biting insects, but it has been found to be much more effective for repelling ticks than some of the other repellants we’ve mentioned.

Insect Repelling Clothing such as Insect Shield® and ElimiTick is already pre-treated with Permethrin through a special process that binds it tightly to a fabric’s fibers. This allows for a material that will maintain its repellent properties through 70 launderings, which is the typical lifetime of a garment.

To shop all Ben Meadows insect repellents, check out our Insect Repellent Selection Guide. Or for more information check out these resources:

EPA information on insect repellents: ... sectrp.htm

CDC recommendations: ... pdates.htm

Other Sources: ... epel.shtml ... _smart.php ... ntent.aspx
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Re: Insect repellants

Post by pattyjenkins1 » Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am

I'm allergic to insect bites of all kinds, but don't want to use DEET. I use a product called "Repel Lemon-Eucalyptus," which is a plant-based repellent for mosquitos and deer ticks. You have to re-apply it after about 6 hours, but it does work, smells good, and is much less harsh than DEET. You can get it at REI, Target, Amazon, and lots of other places on the internet.
Patty Jenkins
Executive Director
Tree Climbers International, Inc.
Get High / Climb Trees

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