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Could lemon eucalyptus bug repellent attract bears?
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Andrea Hafner
(Angie_O_Plasty) - F
Could lemon eucalyptus bug repellent attract bears? on 07/31/2008 21:22:12 MDT Print View

I prefer not to use chemicals like DEET if I can avoid it, so I have started using Repel Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellent and it works nicely. However, the stuff is pretty strong-smelling (citronella-type scent) and I just got to thinking that this might not be such a good thing in bear country given all the warnings about using unscented toiletries etc. and hanging up anything that has a scent. Does anyone have any idea whether this is a problem? Don't want to attract bears while trying to keep the bugs away, but not too keen on using toxic chemicals if I don't need to either.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Could lemon eucalyptus bug repellent attract bears? on 07/31/2008 22:02:04 MDT Print View

Where are you going to be hiking? What sort of bears concern you? Bears, as in Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Northern California's "Lost Coast" recognize humans as a food source. That's why bear canisters are required.

Truly wild bears should give you no problems. You may see wild bear scat, or tracks, but you probably won't see the bear. Wild bears don't like people and have such a good sense of smell they'll know you're around. In all my years backpacking, in northern Arizona and northern California, I've only seen one bear and it was running away faster than you would believe a bear could move.

The biggest food thieves in the areas I hike are the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels.

Andrea Hafner
(Angie_O_Plasty) - F
hiking location on 07/31/2008 22:41:47 MDT Print View

I'm in New England, so there are only black bears. Not sure how habituated they are to looking for food from humans; I don't think they are overly so from what I have heard (no requirement for bear canisters, just regular bear-bagging of food and garbage).

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Bug Clothes on 08/01/2008 11:03:36 MDT Print View

I don't use any repellent. Many of the "natural" repellents (such as pyrethrums) may be worse than DEET. I want to emphasize the word "may". I don't want to get into a big discussion of the dangers of various natural and chemical repellents (there is plenty of that on the web).

For me, I avoid the whole lot of them by carrying bug clothes. I used to use The Original Bug Shirt, which is a great product, but not the lightest shirt in the world. Now, I use a wind shirt or rain jacket combined with the nano-seeum head net. The weight savings aren't a big deal with the nano-seeum head net, but the visibility difference is huge (well worth the extra cost in my opinion). I combine this with rain or wind pants along with MLD mitts.

Andrea Hafner
(Angie_O_Plasty) - F
Re: Bug Clothes on 08/01/2008 12:50:18 MDT Print View

Bug clothes are one idea--it already is my usual practice to hike in long pants rather than shorts, to keep the bugs off my legs. However, doesn't it get HOT to wear long sleeves in the summer? As far as problems with "natural" repellents, I realize that natural doesn't always mean safe but I haven't heard anything bad about the lemon eucalyptus stuff like I have about DEET. I had just gotten to wondering if the smell might attract bears and will be interested to see if anyone knows the answer to that question.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Bug Stuff on 08/01/2008 16:25:29 MDT Print View

Yeah, sorry if I changed the subject -- to answer your main question, I don't know if eucalyptus attracts bears. Hopefully someone knows more. Eucalyptus is also safe, as far as I know. I do know there have been concerns about pyrethrums, though. I imagine that in a lot of cases you take something that is probably fine in normal amounts and then concentrate it to such a level that it can cause some weird things. Unfortunately, many of these things (natural or lab based substances) aren't tested for years before they are put into products. Again, I don't want to seem alarmist -- most of this stuff (including DEET, for all we know) may be perfectly safe. I just figure it is safer to not worry about it.

As far as heat is concerned, a wind shirt breathes fairly well, so I don't get too hot (I can take my normal shirt off). Bugs are mainly a problem when I'm not moving (like in camp) so I prefer the wind shirt. Wind pants are a bit annoying, as my favorites (Montbell) only come in black, so they can get a bit too hot. It's a small price to pay for when they are out in full force.

Andrea Hafner
(Angie_O_Plasty) - F
Re: Bug Stuff on 08/01/2008 17:45:45 MDT Print View

The bugs definitely are more of a problem when not moving--the issue in my case is that some of the groups I hike with tend to be a bit "stop and go" so there are times when I'll be waiting up for people and then it can be a bit of a bug-fest! Does anyone know if the lightweight long-sleeve button-down shirts made by Railriders, Mountain Hardwear etc. are really any good in warm weather? Something like that would be good as far as bug and sun protection but does it make you too hot?

Christopher Williams
(clwilla) - F

Locale: The Bluegrass
@ Ross on 08/02/2008 18:46:27 MDT Print View

In the event you haven't heard, DEET is perfectly safe, and approved for infants as young as 2 months. It has been tested twice, once in the 50s and once in the 90s by the EPA. It is okay up to concentrations of 100% (which is what I use).

One can't always argue that artificial=toxic. Sure I wouldn't drink the stuff, but I won't drink carrot juice either.

I'm not saying not to use natural bug sprays, but I am saying that at some point, you will wish for the only thing that (currently) works in every circumstance, and that's deet.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
long sleeved shirts on 08/04/2008 16:10:35 MDT Print View

I have the Rail Riders Eco Mesh and the Ex Officio Air Strip Lite long sleeved shirts. I like them both.

I have found that I actually feel cooler wearing the light colored Ex Officio shirt, plus it helps keep the bugs off. That is my 'go to' shirt when hiking.

The Rail Riders shirt is slightly lighter though(6.8 oz vs 7.9 oz).


Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: long sleeved shirts on 08/04/2008 18:14:48 MDT Print View

I recently purchased two Railriders Oasis long sleeve shirts. They differ from the Eco-mesh in that they have a regular collar. I just took them on a multi-day hike through the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The daytime temps were in the mid to high 80's and no rain, bugs were variable.

I gotta say, these are by far my favorite nylon shirts! I have others that I thought I liked (i.e. Columbia Silver Ridge 9.3oz.) but these are light 8.0 oz in men's large.

They are sooooo... well vented. There is a mesh strip running from the wrist to the shirt tail via the armpit, continuously. In addition, there is a ventilated back yoke. The material drys almost instantly.

That was the good. Now the bad. I had to hike upwind of myself do to the stink! This is typical of any synthetic shirt.

For hiking, I will go back to my wool shirts. Icebreaker makes a long sleeve at 140 g/m weight with no collar and a 190 g/m witha collar. I just wish wool came in light colors. Aren't sheep white? Duh!

I spray the mesh parts of shirts with permithim. I also use Repel Lemon-Eucaliptus on exposed skin and I hike in black bear country in the East and I'm still here to tell about it.

Edited by mad777 on 08/04/2008 18:17:57 MDT.

Shawn Rynerson
(veric13) - F
Arizona Hiker on 08/04/2008 20:05:25 MDT Print View

As far as the bug repellent I haven't a clue. I can say that the best shirt I have found for hot weather is a golite drimove longsleeve. I have hiked in up to 115 degree weather this summer with light humidity and been comfortable. It is spf 50 and does a great job wicking moisture. I recommend to any that hike in summer in Arizona.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Could lemon eucalyptus bug repellent attract bears? on 08/04/2008 20:41:42 MDT Print View

I recall watching a recent National Geographic program on black bear research in New Hampshire. One of the camera crews was a husband/wife team - one did the sound, the other ran the camera. In one scene, a bear was rubbing up against the wife - who had used a natural insect repellent. Don't know if it was the repellent that attracted the bear, but it was an interesting scene.

Andrea Hafner
(Angie_O_Plasty) - F
Re: bear research program on 08/04/2008 21:09:37 MDT Print View

That would be quite an interesting scene! While it would be kind of cool to see a bear, I'd rather it be from a safe distance...

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
When repellent attracts! on 08/04/2008 23:18:51 MDT Print View

Interesting question about the Lemon Eucalyptus.

In a similar vein, there is supposedly research that shows that the pepper in bear pepper spray is an attractant to bears. Obviously the noxious choking eye-watering cloud repels them at the time of deployment, but we're talking later on when the pepper is coating the ground, trees, brush, etc. Supposedly the bears can come back to sniff and lick the pepper. Lesson here is not to spray down your camp to ward off bears, as it could have the opposite effect.

So... when hikers taste like lemon, make lemonade?

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 08/04/2008 23:19:39 MDT.