Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life or Death – The Right Mosquito Repellent

To a mosquito, I am the equivalent of a flesh-flavored Popsicle.  If there is one of these holy terrors within an acre of me, I will get bit.  Anyone else have this amazing talent?  All over North America these buzzards of the bayous have wreaked havoc on hunters and fisherman alike.  Tics and mosquitoes are typically more lethal than many apex predators when it comes to humans world-wide.

Mosquito Life-Cycle
Mosquito Life-Cycle
Let’s start with some facts!  First of all a mosquito on average has a life-cycle of about 10-20 days.  They get all their business on the reproduction end done quickly.  The males feed on plant nectar and it is the females who do the real devastating as they require a blood meal to reproduce the 100-200 eggs they will lay.  The females are attracted to your heat signature, your sweat and the CO2 you put off.

How many of you have heard someone say, “Boy, I sure hope we get a cold winter to kill the mosquitoes!” BAD ANSWER!  Mosquitoes have the amazing ability to simply stop their development until conditions are more favorable whether being completely frozen or too dry.  This is why in places like Minnesota or Alaska, snow pack does not equate to low mosquito populations.  In the south when we have a dry spell, the mosquitoes seemingly go away.  In reality, it only takes one decent rain shower and they are all back completing their process again.

So the real question is how can we protect ourselves without ruining our scent while deer hunting?  Two schools of thought say go odorless protection or something that protects but also give off a natural scent.  Let’s take a look at these two lines of thought.

Camp #1 – Odorless

Coleman Skin Smart
Coleman Skin Smart
There are many different products to choose from when looking for a spray or squirt repellent but not many of these are odorless.  The products I introduce here are known to work but I cannot guarantee success for you individually.

Cutter Skinsations Ultra Light says it is an odorless type of spray on repellent.  It is non-greasy and allows your skin to breathe.  Active ingredient is Picaridin which is nice due to the health concerns Deet has caused over the years.

Coleman makes a line of products called Skin Smart.  It too is Deet free with the active ingredient being Picaridin.  It is odorless but does have an aerosol smell as it comes out of the can but that goes away quickly.  It too is non-greasy and boasts 8 hours of coverage.

Sawyer's Permethrin
Sawyer's Permethrin
Permethrin – This stuff is fairly amazing.  You spray it on your clothes (NOT YOUR BODY) and let it dry before putting your hunting clothes on.  It is designed to work for up to 6 washings.  The warnings are quite frightful for Permethrin.  Things like do not let it touch your skin, come in contact with any part of your body, etc.  It doesn't repel kills!  As a father of a 2 year old, I simply cannot risk the hazards.  If you have the ability to control the substance, this stuff works.  Be diligent to follow the instructions.  We don’t want stuff to start rotting off your body…right?

Camp #2 – Natural

There are a myriad of natural insect repellants.  Some work better than others and you should test for yourself if all natural is the way you want to go.  Most anything herbal is not going to be overly offensive to deer particularly if the smells are natural to your area already.

Cutter makes a Natural Repellent with theactive ingredients: Geraniol (5%), Soybean Oil (2%), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (.4%), Potassium Sorbate (.1%)

A new-comer I found while doing the research is called Insect Defend Patch.  It uses Thiamine (B1) technology to give you a shield of natural protection lasting a whopping 24-hours.

All Terrain makes a repellent called Herbal Armor with the active ingredients: Oil of Soybean 11.5%, Oil of Citronella 10.0%, Oil of Peppermint 2.0%, Oil of Cedar 1.50%, Oil of Lemongrass 1.00%, Oil of Geranium 0.05%.  Not sure how the deer will take this concoction.

Another great option is Thermacell.  This tried and true repellent uses a small butane chamber to heat a scented pad that mosquitoes hate.  Hunters mostly use the earth scent to keep the deer from catching a strange scent.  It gives 15 square feet of coverage and can run for 12 consecutive hours using the extra butane tubes and pads.  One note of interest with Thermacell is that when in a ground blind you can begin to taste the stuff if you run for a good while.  Be sure to turn it off and allow some fresh air in from time to time.

Be safe from the real predators and happy hunting!

References - Mosquito Facts – Wikipedia -

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