View Full Version : What Really Works as a Mosquito Repellant?

07-05-2007, 06:51 AM
I suppose this could also go under Backcountry Fishing...but I need to find something that works well to keep the skeeters and black flies from feasting quite as much. Spent 2 days this week on small streams catching brookies in the Cascades and yesterday just about got packed off. I used a spray repellant all over my clothes when I left the car, had 100% Deet repellent on my exposed skin, shoulders of my shirt and my socks. I must have 100 bites on my back (under my pack!). Just looking for suggestions on what really works out there. Are the new 'bug repellent' clothes effective or just another tool to sell new stuff? Any help appreciated. Thanks.

Mark G
07-05-2007, 07:24 AM
I have alway used a combo of "Deepwoods OFF" on my skin and "Repel Permanone" on my clothing and gear. This is what I use during early bow season here in VA, where the mosquitos can get pretty nasty. Maybe add a head net and mesh gloves, just incase.

07-05-2007, 08:58 AM
I used permanone/permethrin (the dip kind, not just spray on) on my clothes and DEET on expsosed skin. I have switched to 3M Ultrathon and really like it. The bug repellant clothes work--they are "just" treated with permethrin in a way that stays on the clothes for quite a while. I think it is actually cheaper than if you treat your regular clothes that many times. IF you like the fit/styles available.

Master Aegidius
07-05-2007, 04:34 PM
When I lived in Northwestern WI, I would go down into my father-in-laws swamp just for peace and quiet time. Mosquitoes were thick. I would take 2x the RDA of vitamin E, spray Deep Woods Off inside and outside of my clothes, then spray a puddle into my hands and liberally coat all exposed skin and also work it into my hair. Finally, I would smoke either my pipe or a cigar. Those three things worked out pretty good. I only would get bit two or three times, though having them constantly buzzing around me was very annoying.

07-06-2007, 11:40 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I have switched to 3M Ultrathon and really like it.</div></div>

Absolutely the best - bar none. I live in skeeter country, The 3M Ultrathon stays on and doesn't sweat off. The higher the DEET % the less room for base ingredients which keep it on your skin.

20% DEET on your skin 3 hours later is better than 100% DEET that sweated off ten minutes after you stepped out of the truck.

Down here I've been mountain biking in 100 degree heat with 80% humidity. Sweat doesn't evaporate, it rolls off in buckets when the heat index reaches 140 degrees or so. I keep a tube of Ultrathon in every Camelbak, every pack, every bike pouch and every glove box.

As other posters have said, don't forget to wipe the hair and inside the ears too. I got bit severely inside the ear canal one night in the Amazon a long time ago. Miserable experience.

07-06-2007, 11:49 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Down here I've been mountain biking in 100 degree heat with 80% humidity.</div></div>

You're a better man than I am. It topped 100 here yesterday ("but it's a dry heat") and I didn't even think about mountain biking.

07-06-2007, 12:01 PM
I bought a thermacell, and it appears to work quite well. Last weekend, my girlfriend was shooting and I could see the swarm surrounding her. I stood next to her with that thing, and watched the swarm disappear. Did it more than once.....

Kept it aroudn me, and kept from getting bit.

Now, the darn thermacell is too big for a backcountry excursion, but for the car trips, like a short fishing event, it seems to work pretty well.

07-06-2007, 12:23 PM
Using repellent will eventually lead to the death*of*the*mosquito due to starvation, this is abominable. If you would just quit eating meat your blood would thin and you could then sustain more bites leading to the overall health of the population. Haven't you guys learned anything. OOPS sorry wrong thread again.

07-06-2007, 12:32 PM
It sounds like lots of people can keep skeeters away with deet and things like thermacell. I agree.

But Randy also mentioned bites under his pack. I doubt these were from skeeters. He also mentioned blackflies and I believe those were the culprit.

Blackflies are evil, and are totally different than skeeters. They crawl right over deet to get under your clothing where they chew you up.

What works against blackflies? My solution during week long trips to Maine during blackfly season has always been to just suffer for a few days until you are a red hair this side of insane, then drive home early licking your wounds.

Woods Walker
07-06-2007, 07:18 PM
I forgot my Deet last week and had to use stuff from a family friend. I think this was it.

http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.a...t_based_lemon_e (http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=75477&catid=10539&aid=335933&aparam=repel_plant_based_lemon_e)

Seemed to work and I did like the Eucalyptus smell. However I forgot to spray my legs and had a tinny deer tick. /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/eek.gif I used 100% Deet and have had good luck but others feel the 29% (or is it 25%) is better due to they way it is mixed up or something like that. I tried it and worked well too. Funny thing with the Eucalyptus. First it lasted about 5 hours and then the bugs decided I was tasty again. It also worked different than the DEET. The bloodsuckers would land on me and than fly off. With DEET they never land. It was strange to see a skeeter look me over. Than land and as if to say screw this fly off. I may try it again as it didn't give me the side effects of DEET. Skin and facial flushing with eye burning if DEET covered skin sweats into my eyes. All of this sounds much worse than it is. I am willing to buy a bottle for another test.

07-06-2007, 07:33 PM
I tried the older version of that stuff--it only worked fair for me. You smell like a tiki torch, but no DEET headaches /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

On the deer tick--go get a round of antibiotic if it bit in. One 10-day round of cefuroxime should kick any Lyme before it gets started. Trust me, full-on lyme is no fun.

Woods Walker
07-06-2007, 07:46 PM
I carry some doxycycline in the FAK. I take one every time after being biten but can't do a 10 day thing as I get them so often I would be spending the whole tick season on the stuff. I do a tick search after any hike or turning in if staying out. Nearly every mbr of my family has gotten Lyme. My baby nephew just got it and he had a 103 temp with a large rash. But the antibiotic (liquid for the little guy) worked well. My friends father is not so lucky as he let it progress for some time and now they can't seem to get a handle on it.

Yea the natural stuff does not seem to have the punch of the DEET but thinking that maybe in lower bug times I could reduce my DEET intake as I tend to spend 4-5 days a week involved in somekinda woodland fun. Mostly after work conditioning hikes.

07-06-2007, 09:09 PM
I haven't tried the 3M ultrathon, but have used many, many different repellant sprays/oils/creams on the market. Lots and lots of nasty agressive mosquitoes here in Manitoba during a humid, hot summer like this one has been here so far. I've found the thermacell to far more effective than any of the bug sprays or creams that I've used. I still bring a small tube of repellant cream with me when camping, just in case I run out of thermacell cartridges.

Dave R.
07-07-2007, 03:41 PM
anyone else get a rash after 2 or 3 days of using deet? I get it and it lasts for a couple of weeks....

William Clunie
07-07-2007, 05:49 PM
I tried the new Bull Frog "Mosquito Coast" repellent and sunscreen a few days in a row and don't like it. It provides a minimal protection from sun and bugs. The 3M stuff IS THE best so far for me.

DEET doesn't give me a rash, but it sure seems to add an extra buzz to the evening. I don't really like the chemical effect, kind of feels like I have a slight allergic reaction?

William Clunie

Woods Walker
07-07-2007, 06:34 PM

Try the stuff I used. It is Non DEET and worked ok. Not as good but still it did work. Maybe a solution for you.

07-07-2007, 06:44 PM
Well, I didn't get a rash when I got Lyme so it did progress--like for FIVE YEARS before I got diagnosed this spring. It was first diagnosed as clinical depression, then as a thyroid disorder. Currently three months into what will probably be a 12-18 month treatment regimen.

07-07-2007, 07:00 PM
I've been all over town looking for the 3M Ultrathon and no luck yet. I did find the Repel Spray for clothing (permanone (sp?)) and it worked like a champ today! Did more scouting for our upcoming rondy, fished the creek and not a bite today or the swarming I had earlier in the week. May have to go online to find the Ultrathon. Thanks for all the help guys!

07-08-2007, 02:21 PM

The only thing I can add to everyone else's good thoughts is that burning small mosquito coils inside your tipi while in camp really helps. We controlled the damn things this way last week with good success. Now, on the move was something else. High-speed bug dope and DEET only slowed them down. Then there were the flies... /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

07-08-2007, 05:01 PM
Still wondering about the black flies... anyone?

07-08-2007, 05:24 PM
Randy I'm really not to sure what to say, but up here in the Yukon were the mozzzies will carry you away, I were an old loose cotton dress shirt with long sleeves and light hiking pants, I then spread the deet oil on the clothing, this prevents contact with my skin, and hopefully slows absorbtion to my liver. Then I were a bug net thats all there is to it. I flip the coller up on my shirt tucking the bug net up underneath, sealing out any intruders, sound rediculas but it works like a hot dam. Also I were a light pair of leather gloves, taping the sleeves over the gloves with electrical tape, when things get real bad. Of Course the trick here is to have a shirt a couple of sizes bigger then you or. I also used this technique in Australia in the warm weather while hiking. You see the shirt on it's own with the coller left flipped up shades your neck from the sun and the long sleeves cover your four arms, roll em up when you need and let them down when needed. Sound stupid to be wearing a dress shirt in the bush but it works, and looks good to. No use buying an expensive bug shirt. Save your money for good optics

07-09-2007, 08:01 AM
I mentioned it on another thread but you could check out the Original Bugshirt. (http://www.bugshirt.com/) Looks pretty promising.

Ed C
07-09-2007, 04:11 PM
/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/sick.gifOriginal bug shirt yuk go ahead and bite me. I'd wear Crocks to a roedo before I would wear that /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

07-09-2007, 04:42 PM
You can have the crocks Ed...I kinda like the looks of the Bugshirt myself...

Ed C
07-09-2007, 04:44 PM
Send us a picture Ken.

07-09-2007, 04:50 PM
lol...will do...

The Vigilante
07-10-2007, 06:21 AM
um,.... in AK don't they use dragon skin body armour? hehe

07-10-2007, 02:08 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Kevin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I bought a thermacell, and it appears to work quite well. Last weekend, my girlfriend was shooting and I could see the swarm surrounding her. I stood next to her with that thing, and watched the swarm disappear. Did it more than once.....

Kept it aroudn me, and kept from getting bit.

Now, the darn thermacell is too big for a backcountry excursion, but for the car trips, like a short fishing event, it seems to work pretty well. </div></div>

Kevin, looking online I read these also work for black flies. Can you provide specs on these? I cant seem to find that info anywhere. Size, weight ?

07-10-2007, 02:43 PM
IT's about the size of a big remote control for your DVD player/TV. Weight? I'll weigh mine tonight.

Stiff winds make it less effective than advertised, or more correctly, limits the range to downwind. But I was pretty impressed with the darn thing.

Woods Walker
07-10-2007, 03:14 PM

I never tried it. Believed thermacell was some kinda crazy scam. Looks like I will have to try this. I wonder if it does anything to ticks. Got another tick bite last week. DEET does not seem to stop them.

07-10-2007, 05:59 PM
no help on ticks, but they are the thing to have if you are sitting in a blind, on a stand, or trying to fish.

07-10-2007, 06:44 PM
Permethrin for ticks. Spray it on your clothes, and let them dry. They die just from crawling on your pants leg. The stuff is MARVELOUS.

07-11-2007, 04:42 AM
I just talked to an experienced bowhunter who swears by the thermacell, he told me he got his at bass pro shops. I'm sure they have a website.

07-11-2007, 06:33 AM

07-11-2007, 06:43 AM
Kevin, do you think Permethrin would be available at the local sportsmans warehouse?

07-11-2007, 07:20 AM
Standing about 6-8 feet away from my wildly stomping/thrashing/shrieking/slapping lady seems to keep me relatively free of mosquitos. Unfortunately this is only good for a few minutes before she dives for the safe confines of a mosquito proof sanctuary.

07-11-2007, 07:20 AM
PDX - http://www.mosquitorepellent.com/wheretobuy.shtml

07-11-2007, 07:22 AM
PDX, it is at the Sportsmans near my home, and also at the Army Surplus stores. Next to the DEET.

The Sawyer's, in the spray can, does not stink. The stuff in the green and white plastic bottle is as bad as my hunting partner after a bean and green chile burrito.

07-11-2007, 07:47 AM
Cool, I'll check it out. I am one of those people that the bugs eat alive. I hate the feeling of bugspray on my skin too. I usually spritz the clothes with 100% DEET, but I'm beginning to think it doesn't really work.

07-11-2007, 09:15 AM
I use one of these when the biting bugs get to swarming really bad.


They work amazingly well and twist/fold down into a low volume, easy-to-tote, built-in stuff stack.

They can also be used when sleeping at night in mosquito country when not using an enlosed tent (ie. tarp camping).

07-12-2007, 07:19 AM
Here are the guidelines the CDC puts out on mosquito repellents.


I have been using the Cutter Advanced product with 15% picaridin this spring and summer. It has been working well, lasting through the evening hours against pretty high populations of Ochlerotatus (used to be Aedes) dorsalis which are accurately described in the "Mosquitoes of Colorado" as "savage biters". Our friends in Europe and down under may know it better as Bayrepel. It is the most pleasant to use repellent I have ever tried. No solvent properties, not oily, little scent after it drys. Here is some more info on it. http://www.picaridin.com/ I don't think it works well against our Rocky Mountain wood ticks. The best product for that are the already mentioned permethrin sprays applied to pants and socks.

The Thermacells work great if there isn't much wind. If I ever have to sit in a black fly infested blind in Canada I hope I have one with me. The product uses heat to volatilize allethrin, the first synthetic pyrethroid insecticide ever developed. Here is more info on it http://www.mosquitorepellent.com/howwork.html

T&S Manufacturing
07-12-2007, 01:16 PM
Few weeks ago I happened to flip through a Backpacker magazine at a local hike/bike shop. Mosquito repellants were rated by how many bite free hours they provided. The tester stuck his arm into the plexiglass mosquito tank every 30 mins and left it there for...IIRC...about 1 to 3 minutes.

Repel's lemon eucalyptus provided 4 hours bite free. The magazine's website claims it lasts longer. See here: http://www.backpacker.com/article/1,2646,1999_P,00.html

Every spring I order up 2 or 3 cases (6 cans/case) of "Coulston's Duranon Permanone" from one of my wholesale suppliers. This stuff works great on clothes, boots, socks, tents. Never saw any data safety sheets till I found this: http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Product.jsp?REG_NR=05040400006&DIST_NR=058188

Check the web for best prices on the Coulston. $6.99 for 6 oz can here: http://www.bitesandstingsonline.com/Merc...egory_Code=Perm (http://www.bitesandstingsonline.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BASO&Product_Code=CP22200&Category_Code=Perm)

Permethrin soak, for clothes: http://bitesandstingsonline.com/Merchant...egory_Code=Perm (http://bitesandstingsonline.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BASO&Product_Code=SP652&Category_Code=Perm)

paul tripper
07-13-2007, 02:59 PM
Consumer Reports has done the research (June 2006 issue I think). They say following in order of effectiveness:

Off Deep Woods
For Sportsmen I
deet 98% pump $6.50 92. 12.0 13.0 10.1
3M Ultrathon
deet 34% cream 3.80 72. 7.3 9.5 10.6
Off Deep Woods
For Sportsmen IV
deet 30% aerosol 0.70 70. 6.4 10.8 9.5
Cutter Unscented Outdoorsman
deet 30% aerosol 0.80 70. 5.4 11.5 13.0
Ben's 30 Wilderness Formula
deet 30% pump 3.20 67. 4.7 11.5 12.0
Repel Sportsman Formula
deet 20% cream 2.00 55. 2.9 9.3 10.6
Repel Sun & Bug Stuff
deet 20%
(+ sunscreen) cream 1.30 54. 3.1 7.3 11.3
Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus
p-menthane-3,8-diol, 26% pump 1.90 51. 3.6 7.8 8.1
Cutter Advanced Sport
picaridin 15% aerosol 0.90 40. 1 4.8 11.5
Off Skintastic IV Family Unscented
deet 7% pump 0.90 33. 1 2.4 5.7
Walgreens with Aloe Vera for Family Unscented
deet 7% pump 0.70 33. 1 2.4 5.8
Cutter All Family
deet 7% pump 0.80 32. 1 2.6 4.3
Skin-so-soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 Unscented Expedition
IR 3535 aerosol 2.50 24. 0 10.4 11.5
Cutter Advanced
picaridin 7% pump 0.80 15. 0 2.5 5.3
Bite Blocker Outdoor Extreme
botanical pump 0.40 12. 0 2.0 2.2
All Terrain Herbal Armor
botanical cream 2.00 4. 0 0 1.3
Natrapel Plus
botanical aerosol 1.00 4. 0 0 0.5
bugAway Lymonessa

07-13-2007, 08:20 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">are accurately described in the "Mosquitoes of Colorado" as "savage biters". </div></div>

LOL. I met one of these, and two million of his brothers last week on a ramble! /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

07-15-2007, 08:42 PM
my wife uses bounce dryer sheets for musketoes, she swears by it, i use deep woods off with 98% deet, or nothing at all. she also eats a herendouse amout of garlic, and as unusual as it may seem she doesn't stink of garlic. i mean alot of garlic she eats, a darn crazy amount. but its the dryer sheets that keeps the musketoes away...................?

07-17-2007, 12:38 PM
For what it is worth, I just got back from a week of salmon fishing in Alaska. Mosquitos were "quite bad" but not "horrible"(did not need headnet). I used a Buzz Off shirt and hat for the first time and was quite pleased. They were not perfect, but I was much more comfortable than most of the other guys in my party.

07-17-2007, 01:08 PM
Has anyone tried Nessmuk's mixture? Pine tar, castor oil, and
pennyroyal? Apply daily and don't bath for the duration of your
trip. /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

The Vigilante
07-17-2007, 03:28 PM
I try to shower with the hottest water my weak body can handle. I do not use soap. I try to melt body oils off of me. then I slowly turn the water temp down to frickin cold to seal up my pours. The kicker is do not use soap of any kind. dry off with a towel that is clean but not perfummy with soap smell. This works well for me. Not perfect,.. but it does keep mosquitos away. horse flies,.... 12 ga. This does work. However, if you can not shower daily,... or sponge bath your self,... go to deet.


07-17-2007, 05:04 PM
Permethrin is a neurotoxin that is very effective on insects and fairly mild on mammals (like us)... It kills insects (including black flies) that come in contact with it. The stuff is too intense to wear on your skin, but treating clothing, gear or the perimeter of your sleeping area with it works well.

DEET should be your second layer of defense. I tend to avoid direct application to skin, but rather apply it to clothing near exposed skin (cuffs, collar, hat, etc).

I've also heard that powdered sulfur applied to hot spots on the skin will help prevent chigger bites...you can find it listed as "flowers of sulfur". I have not verified this....

Pretty much everything else works by confusing the insect's ability to find your exposed skin....once the insect get's lucky and finds an exposed site, they do nothing to protect you.

07-17-2007, 06:52 PM
I have tried powdered sulfur. Did it work? I don't know. I do know that combined with sweat it makes a huge mess. Also, if you apply
it with your hands and later rub your eyes, you will be reminded
that you should have washed your hands.