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  1. #1
    Registered User GolfHiker's Avatar
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    Default Letís Talk Insects

    Hey all, as a follow up to my recent Letís talk ear👂 plugs, Iíd like to get some opinions on bug dope. I backpack quite a bit each year, different seasons, often on the AT, and Iím very reluctant to use dope unless I just canít stand it any more. Not to deny tick protection ( I do utilize Insect Shield) but Iím more interested in what works well for mosquitoes, no see ems, and black flies. The every day nuisance stuff we all encounter.

    Ive tried all the main otc stuff, Benís, Off, Cutter, Skin So Soft ( been a while for that one), and something called 45*N, 68*W, which I do like. I understand Deet and Permethrin, and the less toxic the ingredients, the better, but when push comes to shove, I have sprayed up with 99% Deet.

    So, Iíve set the table, and value your input on what works for you, assuming there must be something out there to consider.

    And I promise not to start a series of Letís Talk......

    Thanks.
    "How can something this hard be so much fun".

  2. #2
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    Default

    I use Deet, sparingly. It works.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  3. #3
    Registered User somers515's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GolfHiker View Post
    . . . the less toxic the ingredients, the better, but when push comes to shove, I have sprayed up with 99% Deet. . . .
    And I promise not to start a series of Let’s Talk......
    Just fyi for those reading this thread. The percentage of deet only determines how long it lasts according to a few sources that I've read including the makers of OFF:

    FACT: THE LEVEL OF DEET IN REPELLENT ONLY DETERMINES HOW LONG THE PROTECTION LASTS.
    For example, OFF!ģ FamilyCare Insect Repellent IV contains 7% DEET and repels mosquitoes for up to 2 hours, while OFF!ģ Deep Woodsģ Sportsmen Insect Repellent I contains 98.25% DEET and repels mosquitoes for up to 10 hours.



    A series of "Let's Talk" doesn't sound like a bad idea to me!
    LT End-to-Ender 2017; AT from Lehigh Gap to Hudson River; NH 31/48
    "Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in." - Isaac Asimov

  4. #4
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    Default Let’s Talk Insects

    I don't use anything in the mountains, but at home and on the coast I use Skeeter Beater. Works pretty well, doesn't smell bad, doesn't sting if it runs down into your eyes. I don't have a bottle handy, but I'm pretty sure it's just a mix essential oils. vanilla, peppermint, lemon grass, and such. probably easy to make at home.
    You can walk in another person's shoes, but only with your feet

  5. #5

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    I've spent a crapload of time backpacking in bug season and have tried everything from meaningless herbal lotions and pennyroyal to citronella incense sticks to body salves to skin so soft to picaridin (useless) to lemon and eucalyptus to your Aunt Susie's favorite glop.

    Nothing works except for DEET, sad to say. I hear there's a yoga technique to repel bugs but I haven't yet mastered it. (Nor have I mastered Tummo meditation---heat generation in cold temps).

    In my neck of the woods NOSEEUMS, i.e. MIDGES are the killer. They swarm sight-unseen and pester me to death. DEET thins them out.

    Oh and I use a sea to summit headnet all the time in bug season while hiking---not used of course when inside the tent.

  6. #6
    Journeyman Journeyer
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    Default

    Products with picaridin work about as well as deet without the oiliness or plastic melting properties.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by grubbster View Post
    Products with picaridin work about as well as deet without the oiliness or plastic melting properties.
    This has not been my experience---after careful comparison and field testing in midge season. For me at least Picaridin is next to useless. In fact, skin so soft performed better than picaridin.

  8. #8

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    How about permethrin? I've used it for ticks, but never specifically for other annoying insects. I know it's supposed to be effective against mosquitoes as well. Any direct experience with this?

    Obviously on clothes is a bit different and might need deet to supplement other areas, but curious if people find a difference if they've already treated their clothing

  9. #9

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    I'm a huge DEET fan. DEET rightfully got a bad rep back in the day when it was used in massive quantities. Used in small repetitive quantities, it really prevents mosquito and black fly bites. They'll still buzz about your face a bit, nothing you can do about that, but they won't typically land.

    For ticks, DEET is a lifesaver, I routinely hike through a wet low lying field, and can pick up as many as 20 ticks in half mile stretch. With DEET on my skin, and permethrin on my clothes, they just crawl around for a bit without ever attempting to latch on. When I pass that half mile stretch, I just brush them off, and continue.

    It's easy to control the amounts you use, to keep it to a minimum. The southern AT in the spring was joyfully bugless, NH in the late spring is just tick world and I can't walk to my car without doing a tick check. Mosquitoes and black flies, it's about season, heat, elevation, wind. I can really forego bug repellent for most of the time, but when I need it, I need it to work.

    At the end of the day, I dip a bandana in my plastic milk jug cutaway sink, and sponge away the DEET before I get in my tent.

  10. #10

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    Short answer permethrin, picaradin, DEET, essential oils.

    I take a multi layered approach which can include commercial insect repellents but doesn't usually solely rely on them. What exact approach I take is based on the anticipated pressure of what specific insects I'm trying to repel. Dont forget that reducing exposed skin, wearing Rair Riders Eco Mesh pants for example(a necessity for WRR and Sierra high biting periods), tucking in pants, wearing light colored clothing(research has shown skeeters are attracted to dark clothing), diet, supplements, etc can impact biting insect experiences. What works for one may not be as another experiences. Hence, one of the reasons why different reports of what personally works. And why two people in the same general camping area can have radically different biting insect experiences.


    For the AT:

    Midges/noseeums - med- high pressure mainly around the nose, ears and eyes, wear sun glasses where the tint changes depending on sunlight(be careful not get balms or repellents on lenses), smearing a layer of essential oil containing Berts Bees Lip Balm or Res Q Ointmen( I use this for multiple purposes to reduce the stuff carried just as a mailed small bottle of Dr Bronners eucalyptus/citrus/lavender soaps) on ears, nostrils, and wearing a BUFF and/or bandana w/ working Insect Shield is usually all I need. I may wear a BUFF as a bandana and a bandana as a Jesse James face mask. As TW said during summer they can be relentless and a heavy nuisance committing what I refer to as midge suicide flying up nostrils and into eyes and ears or getting under a shirt. UGGGH! I've taken spills because midges flew into orifices. The oils work but I think it may also be them not wanting to get stuck in the balm or balm on their feet or wings so learn to avoid those areas where it's applied. This approach may need repeated applications and it involves possibly covering up exposed skin. It's the same with skeeters.

    Skeeters - med pressure, essential oils(lemongrass, peppermint, Cedarwood, geranium, lavender, tea tree, clove, NEEM, etc) in almond or EVOO base. Again I suspect part of the reason goes beyond odors to insects not wanting to land on oily skin. I've had good results with Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent and picaradin as well. In camp I light incense or may start a small smoke fire. On more than one occasion I've applied a layer of ash or mud to skin that dries solid. I may seek a windier or non low lying higher elev site that isn't near where H2O tends to pool. That means selecting a dry camp. That may mean widening essential backing skills. That alone CAN make all the difference. There are many interconnected consequential factors that most don't want to be aware so take the easiest approaches which typically involve repeatedly slathering on high concentrations of something like DEET. Dont get me wrong though. If I was going to the Amazon for 3 months shots and DEET would be components in insect protection. Personally, I prefer to not constantly "bathe" in any one chemical commercial product.

    What works or what's best can be differently defined. DEET gets high marks because quite a few studies were authorized by the military that may have different aims than others. i.e; high DEET concentrations don't have to be applied as often, as Somers wrote, so soldiers can focus on soldiering rather than more often repeated bug juice applications and encountering higher odds of being bitten with diseases carrying biting insects. If you're willing to apply perhaps more often as a hiker what's BEST can be differently defined. And soldiers have to be mindful of prioritize soldiering not so much be aware of all these other factors. Many efficacy studies also are based on one to one product comparisons rather than safely combining different approaches for a cumulative acting bug repelling effect.

    It helps to understand what attracts skeeters. If I allow myself to emit a strong body odor known to attract biting insects through applied colognes, fragrances, laundry detergents, shampoo, etc or built up trail grime and sweat(ammonia) and exhale extensively(CO2) that attracts skeeters. Since urine contains ammonia during warm periods/mosquito/black fly/midge hatches I get up if having to urinate and go away from where I'm camped. That also means if camped in established sites where others have urinated lazily nearby that can increase biting insect odds just as experiencing mice or cockroaches or snakes or bears. In winter I use a pee bottle. Skeeters are attracted to heat and movement so if again I can be mindful of personal thermoregulation it has an affect on biting insects. That may mean I have to be mindful of varying pace which everyone obviously is not. Sorry to say but not all are aware of these factors so being consistently in the immediate vicinity of others especially sleeping I personally I know can raise odds of being bitten same with having negative wildlife(mice, snakes, bears, etc) experiences or being exposed to water borne parasites. *That safety humans perceive in congregating and socializing can actually be problematic.

    This sounds and is complicated. It's not the short answer but with the bag nights and miles it has become second nature. I don't even think about this much anymore. It's part of me.

    One caution. Consistent heavy applications of any of these chemicals can affect apparel, electronics, watch, breathability and WPness performance and durability. I've ruined WP shell membranes and watch finishes and affected breathability. They have affected zipper performance. They can attract greater grime. There may be other consequences we are not fully accounting.

  11. #11
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    Default

    DEET is a repellent
    Permethrin is an insecticide that kills Ticks on contact. As well as cats, fish, bees and a whole host of life, some beneficial , some not so much.

    That said I use a lot of Permethrin since I work in the Maine woods. Also DEET during Buffalo Gnat season here in the Northeast.
    Everyone has a photographic memory. Not everyone has film.

  12. #12

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    3M ultrathon, its a lower DEET concentration but it has some additive to keep it from absorbing in the skin so it lasts longer. It was developed for the military to reduce the bad side effects of 100% deet while retaining the effectiveness of higher concentrations. The only down side is you need to mix it up before using it if it has set for an extended time as it will separate. Not an issue day to day use but I notice it between weekends. I switched to Ultrathon when it was released for civilian use as initially the military bought the entire production for the gulf wars and havent found anything better

    My standard caveat is most people use far too much DEET. The intent is not to bathe with it, just a drop should be good for a leg and arm. DEET does not stop deer flies. It also doesn't stop black flies from swarming around your head. About the only thing is a hat with a tanglefoot pad on the top. In really bad dense black fly conditions they will still land but will crawl up under clothing to areas not protected by DEET.

    BTW , I spray my clothes with permetherin.

  13. #13

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    If there's an issue, permetherin. If there's not an issue, there's not an issue.

  14. #14
    illabelle's Avatar
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    I mostly don't use any bug repellent or insecticide. But then I avoid hiking where/when bugs swarm. I've experienced just a little of the northern black flies - I HATE those things!
    If I expect to be in a heavily tick-infested area, I might put some permethrin on my shoes. Should probably treat clothes too, but I don't.
    I don't like to be cold, yet hiking in moderately cold weather sure beats fighting miniature kamikaze swarms.

  15. #15

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    Apple cider vinegar https://www.lifehack.org/318061/12-r...ider-vinegarap

    Note:note,I am not man enough to drink the stuff so I take it in capsule form twice a day.I get it at Botanic Choice.
    Since I have started taking ACV,tumeric,and a B multivitamin daily the mosquitoes leave me alone.My arthritis is better and my cholesterol has gone down considerably.I do treat my clothes with permethrin.I suspect that the capsules repel critters other than mosquitoes but I can attest that it works for me.In summer I will carry some Repel Lemon Eucalptus just in case but I hardly ever use it and if I do it will go on my hat or bandana around my neck.

  16. #16

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    "...hat with a tanglefoot pad on the top."

    New one.

    Does that go along with wrapping a hot towel around my head?

  17. #17

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    100% DEET has worked for me most everywhere, easy to carry, use, and bugs know when its time to reapply. As a secondary approach, I wear a bug net around my head for black fly and no-see-ums to avoid breathing them in.

  18. #18

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    Bug head net for me. and long sleeve shirt and pants
    I've been known to put a little deet on my hat and shirt collar, but not into putting it on my skin.
    I was at a wedding the other day and everyone was spraying that crap all over themselves.
    The place smelled like a chemical factory.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  19. #19
    Registered User rmitchell's Avatar
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    My sister-in-law used to ride horses up at Big South Fork which has a big problem with ticks in warm weather. She used baby powder around pant cuffs and waist line. Come to find out that there was a carcinogenic ingredient in the powder. Arsenic? Maybe that's why it worked.

    When picking blackberries I use Gold Bond at cuff and waist line and deet on shoes. Hopefully Gold Bond doesn't prove to be hazardous.

    Best defense at home is having a flock of Guinea fowl as they eat ticks.

    On the trail I agree with Illabelle, repellent only as a last resort. The first choice is Lemon Eucalyptus but only if bugs get totally intolerable. I always carry a head net but have not been able to sleep wearing it. If it's warm enough for mosquitoes to fly at night the bug net is too hot to wear sleeping.

  20. #20
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    How about permethrin? I've used it for ticks, but never specifically for other annoying insects. I know it's supposed to be effective against mosquitoes as well. Any direct experience with this?

    Obviously on clothes is a bit different and might need deet to supplement other areas, but curious if people find a difference if they've already treated their clothing
    When I did the JMT in the summer of 2016, there were mosquitoes and/or biting flies along most of the length of the trail. So long as you were walking, they generally didn't bother you, but the moment you stop, you could experience anything from mild annoyance to down-right swarms.

    While I did take along some DEET, I was loathed to use it as I didn't want residuals to get on my tent/sleeping bag. But I did have a set of (factory) permethrin treated clothing (long pants, long sleeve button down shirt, head net). Using the bug cloths when I stopped for lunch or in camp in the evening allowed me to hike the entire length of the JMT and never once opened by bottle of DEET.

    There were perhaps only 3 places where the bugs were bad enough that I had to include my head net. Usually the bug shirt and wide brimmed hat were enough to keep them off my face. There was perhaps one spot where even walking the bugs got bad enough I had to stop and put on the bug cloths.

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