Tag Archives: bug

How the Thermacell® Mosquito Repellent Works

Hello, outdoors folk! We’re here again to talk about our sponsor Thermacell® and its mosquito repellent devices!

Thermacell mosquito repellant logo

Image: www.thermacell.com/

As you probably remember—or perhaps know from personal experience—the devices create a 15’ x 15’ “mosquito protection zone” that also repels other types of flying, biting insects, like black flies and no-see-ums, while being virtually odorless and leaving none of the usual oily residue or acrid perfume of lotion and spray insect repellents. The lanterns, torches, and repellers are used by hunters, gardeners, campers, hikers, military personnel, and folks who just love hanging out on their porch, patio, or in their backyard. But we’ve hardly scratched the surface of HOW the devices work.

The EPA-approved devices have a 98 percent effectiveness rating and have been tested across the globe in swamps, tropical climates, and across the good ol’ U.S. of A. And perhaps the part that makes it so effective is that it is easy to set up and uncomplicated to operate. You simply screw in the butane cartridge and install a blue allethrin-dipped mat, turn the device switch ON, and press the START button.

Once your device is lit, the science comes in. The butane inside the device heats the grill that overlays the mosquito repellent mat. This, in turn, causes the liquid allethrin in the mat to vaporize and diffuse into the air through a process not unlike that of an aromatherapy candle—but much more helpful in the field:

molecules showing diffusion on how mosquito repellant works

Once vaporized, the particles are able to maneuver about the air like a born-and-bred New Yorker through Grand Central—swiftly and without making any eye contact. [Image: www.bbc.co.uk/]

Once vaporized, the allethrin is able to move freely through the air, and in less than 10 minutes, you’ll be enjoying a force field that repels mosquitos and other biting insects. It might even look this cool to your imagination:

boys camping and using thermacell mosquito repellant

“Good thinking, Jordan! Your DMB covers will definitely also help to keep the mosquitos away.” [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

The butane cartridge lasts for 12 hours and the repellent mat last for four hours, which is plenty of time to settle your poker game or reel a couple of fish in for dinner—or both. And since changing them out is such a breeze, if the poker game runs long, the fish aren’t biting, or you just want to enjoy the sounds of nature at dusk, twilight, midnight, or later, you’ll have the back-up you need.

Negroni, anyone?

“Ha ha, excellent! I haven’t had a mosquito up my nose in over an hour!” “I haven’t, either! These torches are great!” [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Of course, nature is the boss whenever we step outside. and high winds are a natural deterrent to both mosquitos and the benefit of a device that repels them. When using a Thermacell product, it is best to choose an outdoor location where there is little wind or minimal air movement. When you’ve found a spot of relative calm, the Thermacell product is most effective when placed near the ground. If there is some wind where you are hoping to use the appliance or lantern, you’ll have the best results if you place it upwind of your work or relaxation space so that when the breeze comes, it brings the repellent along with it.

And if you’re like your author here, when someone tells you that a product works great, you definitely want to try it for yourself before you buy into the hype. Thermacell, like all companies that have faith in their products, offers a full refund if you find yourself dissatisfied with the results. So gear up with your Thermacell appliance and Pocket Ranger® mobile app, and get in the field!

Get the Buzz about Honeybees

There are over 20,000 different types of bees in the world, but today we’re going to concentrate on just one: the honeybee. Although many people are frightened of honeybees (or just stinging insects in general), they’re a crucial part of our continued existence. Here’s some information about these fuzzy, buzzy little cuties that’ll have you admiring their hives rather than running from them. 

The Daily Life of a Honeybee

A honeybee flying over a flower.

A Honeybee. [Image: emfsafetynetwork.org/cell-phone-radiation-disturbs-honey-bees]

Three types of honeybees can be found in the hive: workers, drones, and the queen. Typically the only bees that we encounter are the workers; they are the sexually undeveloped females that keep the hive and bee society running smoothly. The workers clean, build, and protect the hive as well as venture outside to forage for pollen and nectar. Inside the hive, the drones (male bees) and queen can be found. The queen’s main purpose is to lay eggs and continue the growth of the hive while the drones work in accordance with her and fertilize the eggs. The queen also produces chemicals that regulate the behavior of the other bees in the hive. If the queen happens to die, one worker is fed a special diet (called the “royal jelly”) that will develop her into a fertile queen prepared to take the deceased one’s place.

Wintertime in the hive is drastically different as the bees prepare to hunker down and hibernate. Drones are kicked out of the hive, and the workers surround the queen in a cluster where they shiver to keep warm. Cold bees on the outside of the cluster change places with those on the inside, and the group lives off stored honey to survive the harsh winter chills. 

Don’t Swat that Bee! 

Hundreds of bees on a hive.

A honeybee hive. [Image: photoclub.canadiangeographic.ca/mediadetail/8233406?offset=0]

Bees are important to humans, and without them, life would be a whole lot tougher. Honeybees make up about 80% of all insect pollination, playing a huge role in our agriculture and leading to the growth of many of our fruits and vegetables. The Apis mellifera honeybee species is used for the commercial pollination of crops and other plants, and each beehive collects around 66 pounds of pollen annually. Bees use the pollen as food in addition to honey, which is created by the nectar they collect from various nearby flowering trees and plants.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the term given to the unexplainable steady decline of honeybee populations occurring over the last few years. Harsh winters that last longer than ever before, shrinking habitats, increased use of pesticides, and especially mites and viruses found in hives are among the biggest contributors to CCD. Another problem is that industrialized bee farms take all the honey from a hive leaving the bees with none to survive off come wintertime. Instead it’s replaced with high fructose corn syrup, which keeps the bees alive but doesn’t provide the needed natural nutritional advantages that honey supplies. This makes the bees’ immune systems more susceptible to disease and parasites. As farms focus more on growing only one cash crop, there are less natural spaces and wildflower fields for bees to choose from, which also negatively affects them.

Help a Bee Out 

A bee drinking sugar water from a spoon.

Sugar water can help revitalize a tired honeybee. [Image: www.dontletthedaysgoby.co.uk/2014/07/saving-bee.html]

There are many ways for you to get involved and help honeybees out! Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Add plenty of plants to your yard that bees are attracted to such as clover, oregano, lavender, sage, buttercup, and goldenrod.
  • When planting your garden, make sure to avoid using pesticides as they can poison and harm the bees.
  • If a bee is covered in mites and clearly struggling, try brushing them off (gently!) with a paintbrush.
  • You may have seen the picture floating around social media about feeding a tired bee a mixture of water and sugar, but be careful when doing so! Artificial sweeteners shouldn’t be used and definitely do not feed a bee honey—as well-intentioned as it is, honey (even organic brands) may contain traces of viruses that could infect the bee. Bees should only ever eat honey from their own hive.
  • As spring rears its gorgeous, warm head, it’s never been a more perfect opportunity to take a trip out to visit a local beekeeper and learn about what’s involved in keeping a bee colony alive. Even you city-dwellers can be sure to find a spot as urban beekeeping becomes more and more popular across the country. 

Use our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps and head out to a park near you to see how many gorgeous wildflowers, wildlife, and especially honeybees you can spot!

Fact or Fiction: Debunking Popular Animal Myths Part 2

We’re back with the third installment of our Fact or Fiction series. Our last article, Debunking Popular Animal Myths, answered pressing questions such as “does touching frogs cause warts?” and “are elephants truly afraid of mice?” In this article, we’ll talk about what happens when birds eat rice and if rabbits really like carrots.

Run in a Zigzag if an Alligator Chases You

animal myths

Image: www.expresslane.idrivesafely.com

You’re canoodling on the beach during sunset at Lovers Key State Park in Fort Meyers Beach, Florida when, suddenly, an alligator charges toward you two. You’ve heard people say to run in a zigzag if you were ever to be chased by an alligator or crocodile. Well, first of all, the chances of an alligator charging towards you without provocation are unlikely. Humans are too big for an alligator to waste its time chasing on land. Alligators are more apt to sneak attack you in the water.

Verdict:

If an alligator does approach you on land, run. Run in a zigzag, a straight line, sideways, any way! Our friends at MythBusters helped debunk this animal myth. Alligators will only put up so much of a chase before they give up and wait until their next victim approaches.

The Rice Thrown at Weddings Kills Birds

animal myths

Image: www.ebonypeoples.com

We’ve written many a post about the best state parks perfect for weddings: Smith Rock State Park in Oregon is great for a scenic, outdoor wedding with beautiful panoramic views, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California provides a dramatic wedding backdrop perfect for nature lovers. The animal myth goes that after a couple ties the knot, the rice that’s thrown after the nuptials are consumed by birds, which later explode! So, what’s the deal? Was this myth formed by a bird-brained nincompoop, or should birds avoid weddings from heron out? (Get it? Ha!)

Verdict

Falso. People have been throwing rice at weddings for thousands of years. Mental Floss says the practice was created in order to give newlyweds “good luck, fertility and abundance using this symbol of a good crop”. Rice poses no harm to birds, according to MF. Birds eat rice all the time. In fact, many types of waterfowl, shorebirds and migratory birds eat tons of rice in order to stay warm in the winter.

MF says the myth’s popularity peaked in the 80’s when Connecticut introduced a bill that outlawed throwing rice at a wedding, and advice columnist Ann Landers printed a letter discouraging the practice. 

Mosquito Bite Certain People More than Others

 

Mosquitos are nature’s pests. How many times have you not been able to enjoy a family BBQ because those pesky persistent pests wouldn’t stop biting you, and you couldn’t figure out why they kept iting you and not your aunt Peggy? Could it be because they just prefer some people’s blood more than others?

Verdict:

Did you know that mosquitos are the deadliest animals on Earth? That fact may be even more upsetting when you find out that yes, indeed, mosquitos are more attracted to certain blood types. Dr. Jerry Butler, professor emeritus at the University of Florida, told WebMD that one in ten people are “highly attractive” to mosquitos. Male mosquitos don’t bite. It’s the females who are looking for good blood to help develop fertile eggs, WebMD says. Yet, no one knows what exactly it is that attracts mosquitos.

“There’s a tremendous amount of research being conducted on what compounds and odors people exude that might be attractive to mosquitoes,” says Joe Conlon, PhD, technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association. 

Rabbits Love Carrots

animal myths

Image: www.en.clipart-fr.com

Cartoon rabbits seem to love carrots. In fact, the images of bunny rabbits and carrots have become synonymous with one another. Carrots are vegetables, and rabbits are herbivores, so, it must be that they love carrots. Let’s see if this animal myth is true.

Verdict

Cracked.com says carrots to rabbits are like cotton candy to humans – they’re good treats, but will make you sick if eaten in abundance. Cracked surmises the myth comes from a 1934 Clark Gable movie It Happened One Night. In one scene, Gable innocently chewed on a carrot. Cracked says the guys who animated Bugs Bunny used this scene as a parody for Bugs. That become the norm for Bugs, creating the myth that bunnies like carrots.