Friday, June 08, 2007

Stop bugging me!

It's no secret that Gerry and I love Algonquin Park. The Lakes, wildlife and unspoiled wilderness are just a few of the things that keep us coming back year after year. The only down side are the relentless army of mosquitoes, black and horse flies that also call the park home.

We have been fairly lucky when it comes to bugs. Most sites we have had are exposed and windy, so the bugs are not a factor. The same can not be said for the portages and I have found them to be much worse when I am carrying the canoe and unable to swat them away. This is where repellent is a must.

There are lots of repellent products that have DEET in them, so I thought I would collect some information that would be useful to those considering this product or that.

Which insect repellent is most effective?

DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) is the most thoroughly studied insect repellent, and is considered to be the most effective agent available.

Is DEET safe?

DEET is considered to be very safe when used as directed. Few reports of serious problems with DEET exist, and most have been associated with long-term or excessive use.

Are there non-DEET alternatives?

Citronella oil, lavender oil, and p-menthane-3,8-diol are also registered insect repellents available in Canada. While they have been shown to provide some protection against mosquitoes, they generally do not provide the same level or duration of protection as DEET.

How long do insect repellents protect against mosquitoes?

Approximate protection times against mosquitoes for registered repellents are listed in Table 1. For DEET, duration of protection is related to its concentration in the repellent. Products with 30% or less DEET will provide sufficient protection against bites. Higher concentrations may be associated with increased health risks when used long-term. This is why Health Canada is phasing out repellents which contain more than 30% DEET.

• Products containing 30% DEET provide up to 5 hours of protection.
• Products containing 20% DEET provide almost 4 hours of protection
• Products with 10% DEET provide almost 2 hours of protection
• Products with 5% DEET provide an 1 hour of protection.

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