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Trail and River Rovers of East Carolina (TRREC) Message Board Questions, Info., & Tips › Insect Repellents: What Works?

Insect Repellents: What Works?

A former member
Post #: 318
Tick and insect season is upon us, and if you're concerned you'll want to take along some sort of protection on TRREC camping trips, especially those not in the mountains.

Based on my readings the only products that really work are the chemicals: DEET, Picardin, and Permethrin. Products like wristbands, Avon, bug zappers, and candles have not stood up to testing, although I have to say I know people who are satisfied with their personal experiences with these products.

Here are a couple of links--the first is a 1998 Medical report and the second is an article from Consumer Search.

I am most familiar with DEET and Permethrin. As the 1998 review notes, you can achieve close to 100% protection with a combination of these two. What is the difference? I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on what they are and how they work, the basic difference for me is how they are applied. DEET is applied to skin, not to clothing, and it can damage plastic. Permethrin is applied only to clothing, not to skin. It is especially useful before multi-day camping or hiking trips. You spray it on the clothes outside, let it dry and it will be effective for several washings or several weeks, whichever comes first. You can find both of these products under different brand names at local stores, including Great Outdoor Provision Center.

By the way, none of these is effective against deer flies, as I found out one summer night on a Roanoake River Platform. There is a spray (Sawyer's Broad Spectrum Composite Spray) that combines DEET and another chemical (R-326) and is supposed to repel biting flies, though I haven't seen research on effectiveness. There are several home remedies for biting flies out there as well.

A former member
Post #: 331
The Sawyer products that combined DEET and R-326 (for biting flies) are called "DEET Plus" and "Sawyer Broad Spectrum." I found out that they are no longer available for retail and are sold only to the military. You can buy them direct from Sawyer if you buy 6 bottles. You can also find old stock (it's good for 10 years, so no worry there) around the internet.
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