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Insect repellent - what do you use?
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Christopher Williams
(clwilla) - F

Locale: The Bluegrass
DEET on 07/20/2008 23:23:20 MDT Print View

I recently read the EPA's take on DEET, and there are no known side effects (at least those that occur in sizable numbers according to EPA guidelines), even for children as young as just 2 months.

They even re-evaluated DEET recently (it had originally been done many decades ago), and it still passed all of the tests with flying colors.

You too can read the report at

Having lived in South Florida for the vast majority of my life, I can attest to the absolute effectiveness of DEET (Flamingo. July. Sunset. - Any South Floridians will very likely know what I'm talking about). The stuff just plain works. Yes it stinks. Yes it's a bit greasy. Yes it can technically melt plastic. But it also keeps mosquitoes/noseeums/black flies/gnats at complete bay. And don't let the whole melts plastic deter you. I've used it on my skin, on my clothes, on hats, shoes, etc and have never had an adverse effect.

I use 100%. From what I understand, it's not any more effective than some lower doses, but lasts longer (and comes in a much smaller package).

BTW: Anyone have any recommendations as to an alternative container for DEET? The package that 100% DEET comes in is small, but it could be lighter.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Deet... on 07/21/2008 00:41:57 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/27/2015 12:41:06 MDT.

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: DEET on 07/21/2008 02:01:15 MDT Print View

"Anyone have any recommendations as to an alternative container for DEET? The package that 100% DEET comes in is small, but it could be lighter."

Flamingo is a great place to go canoeing/kayaking. That said, do it between December and April if you want to avoid the mosquitos.

Edited by back2basics on 07/21/2008 02:42:57 MDT.

Christopher Williams
(clwilla) - F

Locale: The Bluegrass
Re: Re: DEET on 07/21/2008 07:54:50 MDT Print View

Perhaps I just use far too much of it, but one of those small little bottles wouldn't last me for more than a couple of days, at most. What I'm looking for is a bottle that holds approximately the same volume as the stock DEET dispenser, but at a fraction of the weight. Perhaps a 2 oz fuel bottle would work well in this case.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: DEET on 07/21/2008 21:13:28 MDT Print View

I'm quite disappointed to report that only Permethrin and DEET work for me. My GF and I tried a few herbal variations in the Sierra Nevada in early July and, well, they all sucked. For both of us. She has way sweeter blood to the skeeters than I do, but our test found that our satisfaction with DEET vs. herbals was the same: we got savagely attacked when wearing anything except DEET on the skin and Permethrin on our clothes.

As this, and many previous, threads can attest, it's a little different for everyone. But for me, 30% DEET is the solution with lightweight Permethrin-treated clothing. And no one wishes there was a less toxic solution than I do. Frustrating!

(If you read online about how DEET was discovered to be effective, it's pretty interesting. Iit's a tough, tough problem to crack - a complex biochemistry nightmare. Those li'l bloodsuckers have evolved pretty darned well!)

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: DEET on 07/22/2008 07:31:36 MDT Print View

First I can't help resist making a comment. Has anyone noticed that how everyone thinks that the mosquitoes in their neck of the woods are the worst anywhere?

RE: Organic bug deterrents- I haven't found any to work, at least that I've tried. I haven't seen a test or study that has found them more than marginally effective, either. If they work for you consider yourself lucky! For me, it's DEET or long pants/sleeves.

RE: DEET- I can't seem to swallow all the findings about there being no side effects from the stuff. Something is causing the rising rate of the many health problems we're seeing. I think (completely unscientifically, of course) that part of the problem is the cocktail of 'proven safe' chemicals we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. Still (contradictorily? stupidly?) my biggest gripe with DEET is that it ruins my sunglasses, dissolves the print off my camera, and makes the seal on my compass dial leak. I try to use DEET sparingly, and only carry it if I know the bug problem is going to be especially bad. Otherwise, I just grin and bear it.

Edited by rswanson on 07/22/2008 07:32:54 MDT.

Michael Gardner
(ekim765) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: DEET on 07/22/2008 08:38:13 MDT Print View

You might be using a bit too much DEET. I currently live in Florida (Stuart/Treasure Coast) and hike/kayak in some pretty swamppy areas. I've found that a few drops on each arm and leg, back of neck, etc. and rubbed in really does the trick at keeping the no-see-ums and mosquittos at bay. Therefore, you could really stretch out a 1 oz. dropper bottle.

As another poster mentioned though, I could be sitting outside next to my girlfriend, not even aware that there are mosquittos out, meanwhile they're trying to pick her up and carry her away. I tell her it's because her blood is sweeter too... HA!

Edited by ekim765 on 07/22/2008 08:42:42 MDT.

Alvie Morton
(rootball) - F

Locale: West Port
I googled 'deet related deaths' and found this - moron! on 07/22/2008 16:10:35 MDT Print View

In the other case, a 30-year-old man applied DEET daily to a rash as a means of self-medication. After application to half of his body, he would enter a home-made sauna for up to 90 minutes. He would exit and apply the repellent to the other side of his body and repeat. These treatments continued for a week, and he was noted to be lethargic and incoherent following the treatments. After his final treatment, he developed grandiose delusions and became verbally aggressive, irritable and belligerent. He was treated in the hospital with various drugs and his condition improved by the 6th day. He was discharged on the 10th day and did not have recurrence of symptoms (Snyder et al. 1986).

Michael Gardner
(ekim765) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: I googled 'deet related deaths' and found this - moron! on 07/22/2008 20:00:19 MDT Print View

Well, almost a Darwin Award winner!

Dave Weston

Locale: NW
Deet on 08/25/2008 20:42:00 MDT Print View

I use 100% Deet. I used to use 30% Deet, but I found myself needing more applications. This in turn caused me to carry more volume.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Don't ingest it on 08/26/2008 17:02:19 MDT Print View

I hike a lot with scouts and something weird always happens. Due to poor trail conditions we changed plans hiked about 20 miles one day. At the end of the day we let the kids hang out in the Kern River to rest their weary souls while we boiled water for their dinners. By the time my friend and I ate it was dark. I asked someone for a knife to cut a bag down. I cut the bag down and licked the knife to clean it. WOW!!! My mouth began to pucker and I had to rinse and spit, rinse and spit, etc.

A kid had cut a bottle of DEET in half. Why? I don't know. They are scouts. That's what scouts do. The knife had not been washed off. Anyway, dinner was terrible since I could only taste DEET. I had a bad night sleeping and the next day's hike, which was only about 7 miles was terrible. Upset stomach all day long. I finally was able to lay down and sleep for about 3 hours. After that I felt better. That stuff is nasty. I use it sparingly.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Picaridin worked well for me on 08/31/2008 15:44:45 MDT Print View

I just did a four-day backpack in the Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington, which is also infamously known as "Mosquito Heaven". It did not dissappoint. The mosquitoes were so thick at times that if I wasn't inhaling them I was nearly trapping them inside my camera while changing lenses.
I went with a two-prong defense that worked really well: "Buzz-Off" (permithrin treated) shirt and hat and long pants, and then Sawyer's 20% picaridin repellant. I had tried Cutter's 7% picaridin product a couple of years ago and found it pretty useless, but then recently I read picaridin is more effective at 20%. So I thought I'd give the Sawyer 20% a shot and it was quite effective, applying it once each morning and then once in the evening. I did get some bites on the trip, about seven or less on each limb, but I found that applying some Benadryl cream to each bite as soon as it started to itch was very effective at stopping the itching. And if you don't itch you don't scratch, which is generally what causes the bites to welt up and get weepy and bothersome.

Here's one of the sites I found that explains picaridin a little and includes results from Australian studies that compared it to DEET:

Obviously that's an older page as picaridin is available in the US now.

Here is the Sawyer product I used:

That's the only size they make, I just put some in a 2oz spray bottle I had and that was enough for my trip.


Edited by swearingen on 08/31/2008 15:58:07 MDT.

Reginald Donaldson
(worth) - MLife

Locale: Wind River Range
100% Deet on 09/01/2008 09:23:16 MDT Print View

I use 100% Deet in a small spray bottle that contains about an ounce. I use it to spritz the brim of my hat, shirt collar and cuffs. I find this to be effective most of the time. I rarely have to use head netting. If traveling in taiga/tundra, I wear a bug shirt and rarely use the Deet. River/?action=view&current=MOV01450.flv