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Non DEET Mosquito Repellent?
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Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/03/2006 23:17:10 MST Print View

Does anyone have any experience with any non DEET mosquito repellents? I hate DEET and I usually go late enough in the season so that I do not need to deal with the 6 legged vampires.
Next summer I want to hit the Tahoe Rim Trail the beginning of july (snowpack permitting) but I feel that no matter what they will be waiting for me on the west side of the lake.

What are your recommendations?


Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/03/2006 23:38:14 MST Print View

I also hate DEET. Unfortunately I can't think of another repellent that is as effective. That said, I now use strictly physical means to deal with the little nasties. I look a little like a bee keeper in camp, but my head net and windshirt work well. Being willing to move your camp away from them also helps.

Edited by ericnoble on 12/03/2006 23:40:13 MST.

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 00:45:08 MST Print View

I seem to have recently developed an allergy to deet... Ive never liked it before, but now I CANT use it. More than I hate deet though, I hate bug nets.

So I have been looking at other options.

Lemongrass, catnip, and peppermint are all very effective against mozzies.

Catnip being about 10 times more effective than deet according to some sources.

Eucalyptus, cedar, tea tree, and geranium all work as repellents too.

I used the following recipe this summer:

20 drops lemongrass oil
20 drops catnip oil
20 drops cedar oil
20 drops tea tree oil
2oz carrier oil (I like pure hemp seed oil, but lots of stuff would work.)

It worked very well. I might try another concoction next year, but this one did its job.

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Catnip Oil? on 12/04/2006 00:53:00 MST Print View

Where did you find catnip oil? and did you get visited by any Felis type creatures on the trails?


I have seen a few of your ingredients listed elsewhere but where did you get the info on catnip?

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 03:50:09 MST Print View

Permethrin treated clothing.

For the skin...

IF NOT in bear country, try White Mountain Insect Repellant. It's au' naturalle insect repellant formula made from botanical oils may(???) serve as a bear attractant.

Anyone know if bears are at all curious about the scent of catnip?

Edited by pj on 12/04/2006 03:53:50 MST.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 06:47:47 MST Print View

Ditto permethrine on clothes, as PJ posted.

Also, this summer I tried picaridin, available from Cutter. It does not mask you as well as DEET, but it DOES prevent mosquitoes from biting. You have to apply more, pretty much covering all exposed skin, and more often. The mosquitoes will buzz within a quarter inch of your skin making you believe it's not working, but none ever bit me while I used it. It caused no skin irritation and doesn't harm nylon.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 09:02:27 MST Print View

I was in the Northern Sierras this past July, and they were ravenous, so you're smart to be prepared. My travel parter tried a few natural alternatives, the only one that I remember by name was Natrapel, and it was a joke. It didn't work at all, period.

On that trip, DEET worked perfectly, of course, with all its lovely scents and silky feel on the skin /endSarcasm/.

I have no direct experience with it but I've very positive things heard here at BPL and elsewhere about Bite Blocker, perhaps worth some reading/research.

I'd take the plunge and bring several alternatives just in case (repackaging them will help save a ton of weight). I am sure individual body chemistry has a lot to do with how badly one attracts mosquitos, so you may just have to experiment to find the right formulation for you.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 09:19:40 MST Print View

Natrapel is a waste of time - works great until it dries on the skin. I found that I had the best luck with Off in the Sportsman strength. I also wear a ball cap called the Bug-Me-Not hat

That said I am interested in this bit about Permethrin treated clothing. What is the process and the toxicity?

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 09:33:37 MST Print View

Do a google search for "Catnip Oil". The entire first page is about its insect repellent qualities, including the Iowa State University test that found its effectiveness to be "10 times" that of DEET.

I have 3 cats at home who are GaGa for catnip but show only a mild interest in the oil. Its in such a low concentration when mixed with the other oils, then used so sparingly, that the actual amount of catnip oil on your person at any one time is very small.

No, I have never seen cats (nor their sign) on the trails - unless *I* was hunting them, and bears are not attracted to catnip. Incidentally, oleoresin capsicum seems to draw bears in from miles around.

At the end of the day though, if you dont want to use catnip, there is no shortage of other options. That "bite blocker" stuff uses geranium oil as its working ingredient.

edit - Nathan mentioned body chemistry. High potassium levels in the blood are a known attractant of mozzies. Staying away from high potassium sources in your diet will make you less palatable in their diet... but to what degree, I dont know.

Edited by RavenUL on 12/04/2006 09:37:26 MST.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 09:46:45 MST Print View

Wow JR, great info! I'll still carry the headnet because it is also a stuff sack, but you have given me hope for another solution when I had basically lost hope.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 09:54:11 MST Print View

From my reading a number of years ago, i've come across two points that might have some bearing on this subject.

first, skeeters are attracted to carbon dioxide. so,... not that it is an option, if we don't exhale we ought to be largely safe from attracting them.

second, many botanical oils are in fact bear attractants - hence, my prev. comment. some (many???) DEET alternatives resort to one or more plant sources to obtain oils (whether natural or synthisized is prob. a moot point) for use in insect repellents. if one is in bear country, it might be wise to refrain fr/ such.

re: permethrins - search the Forums; last year or the yr b/f, there was at least one Thread largely devoted to this subject. personally, i learned a lot fr/this Thread and its Posts and needed to make a correction in my long standing understanding re: its potential toxicity and the diff in potentially aerosolized permethrins used by professional exterminators over 30yrs ago and the current clothing treated with permethrins. i've since purchased and used BUZZ-OFF (permethrin treated) clothing quite successfully during heavy skeeter pressure in New England.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
bugs on 12/04/2006 10:12:46 MST Print View

thanks PJ - found out the info I need. I think that treating some of my clothing will be a bug help

you know it is bad when the areas you hike in have festivals related to bugs

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 10:16:46 MST Print View

PJ, I hope I dont come off too flippant/confrontational here, but bears are potentially attracted to A LOT of things, many for reasons we dont understand. Too many possible things to worry about in my opinion. Do you have anything you can cite showing that bear attacks (or even bear activity) goes up around people using botanical based oils? Especially non-food oils? The only really reliable source I can find about botanical oil as a bear attractant is in relationship to the use of bear spray.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 10:29:34 MST Print View

Does catnip oil attract big cats? I like panthers, but I don't want one sniffing around the hammock.

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 10:39:55 MST Print View

Vick, yes catnip plants work the same on big cats as it does small cats, but again, the dose used in making mozzie repellent is TINY. Catnip is a very common wild herb, and the amount used in a singel application of mozzie rep is less than a single plant, maybe less than a few leaves.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
bears on 12/04/2006 10:51:33 MST Print View

I saw a documentary on Discovery Channel a few years back where the bears were totally curious about citronella oil and other scented products. I'll ask my husband if he can remember the name of the show.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 11:04:43 MST Print View


let me try and find something for you it has been a long time since i read anything on the subject. as i recall, even that which i read was NOT what i would call real authoritative. i've heard the same various sources, even from a co-worker whose b-in-law, who is a professional guide and professional mountaineer (both here in the USA and known in the Himalayas), and who told my co-worker this.

at this point, i'd say it is more anecdotal and perhaps(???) apocryphal (a "not-so-"urban-legend, or a rural-legend in this case). i only pass it on, not to be contentious because a bear encounter while sleeping may not always come off too good for the sleeper. also, NO, you definitely didn't come off as either "flippant" or "confrontational" - to me at least. i feel that you did raise a good point in your reply to me. i should have been clearer about this before. thanks, for "calling me", so to speak, on this.

i've read the same about capsicum, but never from a truly authoritative website. i've seen dogs lick residue from a capsicum spray. i would think, having sprayed capsicum quite a number of times (to halt actual dog attacks from other illegally unrestrained dogs), that it is only after a new can has been discharged that the scent would become readily apparent, but that's just a guess on my part. my dogs have never showed any real, prolonged interest in a new can of either dog or bear spray. btw, my dogs have been my standby for testing my odor-proofing of my food.

i haven't mentioned this in a couple of years (AND i have NO experience with bears), but, depending upon what we consume, hours later the odor of certain chemicals in the food are still exuded in our exhaled breath and body odor (also, in a mother's milk) - some we can smell (e.g. garlic); others we can't. i gotta' believe that this alone can serve as a bear attractant. bears have ~3x the nasal surface area as a bloodhound and a larger percentage of their brain devoted to olfactory than do dogs. i know what dogs can do, having trained dogs for tracking (as part of Shutzhund training). i believe bears would do as well or better in following a scent corridor.


JR is right. i've seen on TV, tigers rubbing up against bags of catnip. so, i'd say 'yes' to your query.

Edited by pj on 12/04/2006 11:09:54 MST.

Rodrigo Salazar-Botero
(malariaprotection) - F
Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/04/2006 21:51:43 MST Print View

If I may suggest, please go to:


Apply the soap to yourself and also to a bednet/mosquito net.

Also apply the soap to to your trousers, about knee high. Cero ticks, guaranteed

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Yosemite Experiment? on 12/04/2006 22:27:12 MST Print View


Thank you all for your input but I keep coming back to an idea about testing some of the "other than DEET" repellents for animal attraction at a zoo or in Yosemite. I feel like on the one hand the mosquitoes no longer bother you but on the other hand the bear just made a sandwich out of me story for the Darwin Awards.
Maybe this can be one of those "Easter Egg hunt for bears" experiment.
For me it looks to boil down to a choice between picardin and catnip oil. I have some Buzz-Off clothes but they are not my usual backcountry attire.
I will look into the malaria soap also but I am one of those as long "as it is easy to apply and doesn't melt my nylon gear and make my flesh go mutagenic" I will be happy.

thank you all again, Randy

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non DEET Mosquito Repellent? on 12/05/2006 04:54:00 MST Print View


you caught me on a day when my "old-timers" wasn't actin' up. so, i remembered to do a quick (by no means comprehensive) web search.

here are some links of interest (some are PDF's and need to be searched using the Acrobat Reader "Plug-in" installed in your Browser). Not all deal with Backpacking; some deal with home attractants. Also, attractants for bears and/or skeeters are contained in the below links.

Anyways, it appears that ALREADY habituated bears may be the ones making a CONNECTION b/t non-food odors (e.g., flower gardens, and botanically based skeeter repllelent) and food. Obviously, if this is true, it might not apply to bears which had NOT yet had its first taste of human food.

Search both PDF and HTML links for the word "attract". Skeeter repellent is listed in some of the links.

bears attracted to mosquito repellent (Search Results) -- Going Google over skeeters

BCGuideBears.pdf (i didn't know they used bears as guides!!)

ManagingAttractants (no problem for my Avatar; one look and a bear would get stomach sick without eating)

Bears-ProofingGuide ("Nature will find a way" - Ian Malcolm)

bear safety (a reciprocal arrangment, no doubt) - lists skeeter repellent as a bear attractant

Hunting the Wild Alaskan skeeter.

this link states that bears are attracted to deodorant, but not making love in a tent, but perhaps to menstruating women (unrelated to the previous activity)

tootepaste (even bears need to practice good dental hygeine, i guess) and skeeter repellent listed

bugs and skeeters and bears - "Oh, my!!"

insect attractants - besides, the obvious, viz. insect pheromones

plant attractants in Banff (PDF) (are they really trying to attract plants in Banff?)

Nova Scotia attractants (i'll let y'all in on a little secret. this is second step, in the plan to annex Canada as the 51st State of the USofA, viz. attract Nova Scotia first & then get/attract Canada one province at a time [least Quebec for last]; what's the first step someone might be wonderin' - get Canada to host at least one NASCAR race - until then, they can stay north of the border [this opinion does not necessarily represent that of this Poster,, or any UL cottage industry Mfr.])

Bear Country - "I'm afraid we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto."

[Note: apparently MSWord2003 thinks "repellant" is a permissible spelling, but Webster's Online Dictionary doesn't.]

Edited by pj on 12/05/2006 04:56:33 MST.