Tag Archives: Insect repellent

Some Facts About Mosquitoes

Conjecture: Mosquitoes are probably the most annoying insects on the planet. Fact: They are one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. They’re a source of discomfort, a vector for disease, and they seem to be everywhere we are when enjoying nature, or lately, even just reading the news. Here at Pocket Ranger®, we and our sponsor Thermacell® want to talk about this pest that has brought itself to the forefront of our thoughts as the weather improves and we are drawn outdoors. We’re here to discuss the facts while underlining the importance of mosquito bite prevention.

mosquitoes are the worst.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito enjoying a meal. It’s astonishing the lengths folks will take to photograph these hungry blighters. [Image: www.cdc.gov/]

The Obvious

  • Mosquitoes make up the family Culicidae, approximately 3,500 flying, biting insect species best known for drinking blood from mammals, reptiles, birds, and basically anything else with blood they can sink their proboscises into. They tend to be crepuscular feeders, taking their meals at dawn or dusk.
  • In most mosquito species, female mosquitoes drink blood for protein that is essential to produce eggs before or after mating. Some species are capable of drinking as much as three times their bodyweight.
  • Particularly before they begin mating, female mosquitoes, like their male counterparts, subsist on the sugar from fruit and flower nectar.
  • The mosquito is a food source for birds, bats, amphibians, reptiles, and other animals, despite being a fairly well adapted hunter itself.

Mosquitoes in the U. S. of A.

A map showing mosquito ranges

This map shows the potential ranges of the invasive mosquito species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictis in the United States, but does not detail the mosquitoes’ populations or risk of disease transmission. Aedes aegypti is a known carrier of the Zika Virus. Aedes albopictis is not confirmed as a vector here, but could become a viable transmitter of Zika and other diseases. [Image: www.cdc.gov/]

Though West Nile Virus is now endemic in California, mosquito-borne illnesses like Chikungunya, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Malaria, and other dangerous infections are not common in the continental United States. From a historical standpoint, and as a sweeping general rule, the roughly 200 species of mosquitoes in the U.S. tend to be a nuisance to folks spending time outdoors rather than a transmitter of diseases. We’ve been very fortunate in that way.

However, these days, particularly while discussing mosquitoes, we can’t help but talk about the very present context of the Zika Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. Aedes aegypti has been indicated as the primary agent of Zika, largely because it favors living in close proximity to its preferred food source: humans. Aedes aegypti enjoys a comfortable potential range that would extend throughout much of the southern and coastal portions of the U.S. where weather and temperature are a bit more within the mosquito’s varied tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate preferences. And, well, it’s just good practice to prevent or avoid mosquito bites by any reasonable means, regardless of Zika or any other illness, no matter where you live.

Ways to Naturally Prevent Mosquito Bites and Hinder Population Growth

[Image: www.mosquitomagnet.com]

It looks like a great place to clean your feathers, but it’s not a good idea to have one of these hanging around without also having a way to mitigate the mosquito eggs that could hatch from the waters. [Image: www.mosquitomagnet.com/]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website, “The best way to prevent Zika and other viruses spread through mosquito bites is to prevent mosquito bites.” Well, when you put it like that, CDC! Thankfully, there are many easy and natural ways to reduce the incidence of mosquito presence and mosquito bites.

  • Wear protective clothing. You can wear long sleeves and pants to reduce the area a mosquito can dig in. Or if it’s just too unbearable to wear that much fabric, you can wear bug spray, DEET, or any number of other topical remedies. Just be sure if you’re wearing sunscreen. too, you apply insect repellent last. Or, as we’ll get to in a minute, there’s an alternative to any of that smelly stuff.
  • If the water’s standing, flip it over. Or use it to water a plant. Birdbaths may be quaint, but they are mosquito nurseries. Rainwater repositories, horse or livestock water troughs, your dog’s outside water bowl, a non-aerated koi pond, and any other number of vestibules and yard items can contribute to your home’s immediate mosquito population. You can mitigate this by simply taking steps to make sure water isn’t sitting or stagnating for days after rain.
  • Herbs and flowers can save your skin. You can plant and grow mosquito repellent plants. Do some research about what grows best in your climate, but trust in the staples like peppermint, lemongrass, basil, garlic, the popular citronella, and even catnip! Most of these plants can be bought already grown, are fairly easy to maintain, and have uses beyond driving bugs away.
  • Choose a repeller you trust. In the spirit of saving the very best for last, you’re probably aware by now that there’s a virtually odorless mosquito repellent with a 98 percent effectiveness rating that requires no oily bodily application. Our favorite way to reduce the chance of mosquito bites is with Thermacell® appliances that wield allethrin, a synthetic copy of the natural mosquito repellent found in chrysanthemums that forms a 15′ by 15′ shield around your outdoor work or hangout space. You can find out how this terrific tool works here.

Thermacell logo.

A combination of all these solutions are the ideal way of reducing incidence of mosquito interaction around your home or campsite, but you’d do well to keep your Thermacell appliance nearby wherever you are. [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

For all the frustration mosquitoes might impose on our lives, the world is just too great and offers too many nature-packed reasons to warrant a life confined to netted spaces or freezing climates. Download a Pocket Ranger® mobile app, gear up with your Thermacell®, get out there, and explore!

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!

Fact or Fiction: Debunking Insect Myths

Image: Image: www.news.filehippo.com

Image: www.news.filehippo.com

Insects, although vital to the ecosystem, can be downright annoying at times, especially when we’re trying to enjoy our the outdoors. Many family picnics have been run afoul with the presence of mosquitoes and flies, and picnics ruined due to ants marching at our feet. You’ve probably seen some of your elders use homemade remedies such as dryer sheets and water to ward off insects. Well, we’re back debunking insect myths.

Ants Will Avoid Areas With Chalk

Chalk is said to be one of ants’ biggest enemies, well, besides Raid. Varying sources provide varying theories on this phenomenon. No one is completely sure why ants tend to avoid walking over chalk – some think it’s a chemical contained in chalk that turns them off. Some say if you’re having an ant problem in your house or around your picnic area, drawing a line will keep them at bay.

Verdict:

Yes and no. Chalk does deter ants, but only for a while. Ants operate by following scent trails of other ants and anything that disrupts that scent (chalk) will daze the ants. Eventually, they will wise up to the situation and forge on. So, this myth can be chalked up to no good.

Dryer Sheets Keep Mosquitoes Away

Image: www.gianteagle.com

Image: www.gianteagle.com

The downturn of any exciting camping trip or family barbecue are those pesky mosquitoes all a-buzzing around. Since mosquitoes are such a nuisance, people have taken extreme measures to keep them away including using mobile apps and bubble machines, but the best mosquito repellent of all is located in your laundry room. Dryer sheets, the myth says, will repel mosquitoes away from you by rubbing the sheets on your skin. Mosquitoes are attracted to the natural human scent, so if you can effectively mask that scent, you’ll be less of a target.

Verdict:

Not really. The results of this experiment have been mixed at best. It was proven that dryer sheets help fend off gnats, but not mosquitoes. Your best bet would be to use mosquito repellent.

Hot Spoon On Bug Bites Relieves Itching

Image: www.lifehacker.com

Image: www.lifehacker.com

How many times have you been outside and not able to enjoy nature because of the constant bug bites. The itching sensation from mosquito bites comes from proteins in its saliva that’s used to clot your blood. People in the old days would place a hot spoon over the area to alleviate the itching sensation.

Verdict:

Yes! Life Hacker says if you heat up a spoon and place it over the itch for about 30 seconds, this will alleviate the sensation. Don’t bother scratching, that further aggravates the area because it increases the body’s histamine response.

Bags of Water Keeps Flies Away

Image: www.http://susiej.com

Image: www.http://susiej.com

It’s an old wives’ tale that no one can seem to debunk. The myth goes that hanging Zip-lock bags full of water (sometimes with pennies on the inside) will keep flies away. The most common theory about why this method works is that flies, with their compound eyes, are confused by the refracted light coming from the bag of water.

Verdict:

Undetermined, but probably not true. Our good friends at Mythbusters put this myth to task by creating two spaces with rotting meat, one with water and one without.The results showed that the number of flies in both rooms were almost equal, thus busting the myth.

Suggested Gear List: 

  • Roxy Musing Backpack – Women’s
  • Zensah Reflect Compression Arm Sleeves
  • Katadyn Combi Microfilter

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and more!

Packing Light for the Hunting Season

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

While on a recent hunting trip with some old friends, I happened to look over at my buddy who was attempting to get his hunting pack onto his shoulders. After several grunts and groans, he finally managed to secure the gargantuan pack onto his back, turned to me, and said, “Ready?” His pack easily weighed 30 or more pounds and I questioned whether he was prepared for an evening hunt or planned to be in the woods for a week.

I looked down to grab my own backpack and chuckled to myself. Over the years I’ve realized there’s little need to carry so much gear into the woods for a single evening or morning hunt. I’ve broken down my pack to the bare essentials and when compared to my buddy’s bag, my own bag looked downright tiny. But what was inside was more than enough to get me by for the day.

Packing light for the hunting season can be a challenge. The following is a list of the bare essentials I carry into the woods.

Water

Always take water. Seriously. Whether it’s a plastic Nalgene water bottle or a canteen like I carry, always have it with you. Even if it’s freezing cold outside, you’re going to need water.

Compass

My compass never leaves my pack unless I’m actively using it. I’ve learned that it’s far too easy to get hopelessly turned around in the woods, especially when hunting in an unfamiliar area. I like to keep it in an outside pouch for easy access.

Hunting Compass

 

Headlamp

It doesn’t matter if you’re making a morning hunt or an evening hunt for deer. The fact of the matter is that at some point, it’s going to be dark and the headlamp is a must. I prefer to use a headlamp just for the hands-free ability. It makes carrying my bow/rifle easier when I don’t have to worry about holding a flashlight in one hand.

Toilet Paper

Pretty self-explanatory as to why I carry this, as leaves just don’t get the job done. It’s extremely light, easy to fold, and it fits nicely in a plastic bag to keep from getting wet.

Packing Light for the Hunting Season

A Good Knife

On the miraculous off chance that the hunt is successful, it’s very nice to have the ability to at least field dress a deer. I usually carry a small skinning knife that makes field dressing deer a breeze, and it also comes in handy as a standard knife for whatever situation arises.

Binoculars

I used to always either carry my binoculars on my person, or have them shoved in some jacket pocket. But more often than not, I’d end up leaving the jacket at home or in the truck and have to go without. I now carry them in an outside pocket of my backpack. They’re easy to access, always on me, and let’s face it, even when bow hunting, binoculars are very, VERY nice to have.

First Aid Kit

If you’re half as clumsy as I am, you’ll end up using your first aid kit all the time. I carry a small one that holds your basic medical equipment. A first aid kit is one of those things that’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. It’s extremely light, compact, and there’s no real excuse for not having one in your hunting pack.

Marking Tape

Fluorescent orange marking tape is something that never really leaves my bag. I use it at all points during the hunting season. Whether it’s preseason scouting and marking trails, or marking a suitable tree to climb so that I find it in the dark, my marking tape always has a spot in my backpack.

Bug Repellant

The final item I always have in my pack is bug spray or a Thermacell. I realize that in most parts of the country, mosquitoes have long been frozen for the hunting season. But here in Florida, they almost never stop biting. I’m always thankful to have some sort of repellent with me while I’m on the verge of passing out from blood loss.

Bug Repellant

And that’s it. I obviously will carry other odds and ends depending on the particular day, weather, area, game, etc. Things like a sock hat, GoPro, extra ammo, and maps find their way into and out of my bag on a daily basis. But as my overall goal is to never lug an extremely bulky and heavy pack around, like my friend, I keep my pack loaded with just these bare essentials.

So if you find yourself hauling around an extremely heavy bag for just a single hunt, consider what you use and don’t use on a daily basis. Try cutting down the weight by bringing only what you’ll really need. You’ll find you’re much more comfortable and even quieter. Your back will also thank you for it!