Tag Archives: Mosquito

Thermacell® is for Nature Lovers

Now that summer is in full swing, most of us want and try to be outside as much as possible. The best time to do that is in the morning and in the evening when the sun is least harsh and the heat most bearable. Even though that’s also the time mosquitoes are out in force.

Worst!

Swarms of mosquitoes gather to talk strategy near waterbodies and shallow pools across the country. [Image: pixabay.com]

Thankfully, we have our trusty Thermacell® appliances! We’ve been given back not just a 15’ x 15’ bubble of mosquito-resistant bliss, but the freedom to work in our yards or gardens, enjoy the onset of dusk from our back porches, perch in a tree stand, relax with a rod and reel, and pitch a tent without the constant buzzing and biting we might otherwise encounter.

“How?” you might ask. We’ve addressed that here. Thermacell® has made a name for itself providing the best in non-topical mosquito repellents. Through the effectiveness of simple design and allethrin, the devices make the air—the very way mosquitoes sense and alight on you—work to their benefit. The mosquitoes are driven off before they can make a meal of you and others within the device’s “mosquito protection zone.”

"Ah, this is the best!"

“Not being eaten alive by mosquitoes is my favorite!” “Ha ha, me too!!” [Image: www.wideopenspaces.com]

It’s often said that the best defense is a good offense, and there are researchers who are looking at eradicating (certain disease-carrying) mosquito species, while exploring the ethics and deeper consequences of manipulating ecology. But consider for a moment that the best defense against mosquito-borne discomfort and illness is just the best defense. Thermacell®’s “mosquito protection zone” is 98% effective in repelling those pesky flying, biting insects. Oh, and you don’t need an advanced degree in biology to fire it up!

Thermacell® Gets You Outside

If you’re a hunter, angler, camper, hiker or someone who generally likes spending time outdoors, Thermacell® appliances allow you to put your energies into the tasks and leisure activities you stepped outside to enjoy. And nature lovers can enjoy the sweet smell of their surroundings, rather than smelly DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus lotions or sprays, or ineffective citronella candles or torches. You can obtain one at many sporting goods stores, or directly from www.thermacell.com, where you’ll also find more information about the company’s products and refills, as well as user reviews!

Thermacell logo.

[Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Finally, if you’re looking for new places to use your Thermacell® appliance, head on over to your phone’s app store, download your state’s Pocket Ranger® mobile app, and start exploring!

Bats, Caves, and White-Nose Syndrome

Weird! Cool! Bats!

Weird! Cool! Bats! [Image: www.nature.org/]

Bats are awesome. They are a crucial part of insect control, pollination, and seed dispersal within their environments. They’re adorable, they help mitigate mosquito populations, and they have suffered huge, tragic population losses over the last 10 years because of a fungus that is incredibly spreadable, Pseudogeomyces destructans (Pd).

Over six million bats have died because of white-nose syndrome (WNS), which is caused when Pd is present in a cave where bats are hibernating. The hibernating bats are understandably awoken by the discomfort of having a fungus growing on their faces, but being awake prematurely is terribly costly in terms of energy. The bat is supposed to be sleeping the winter away because its food sources are limited or nonexistent, and it will likely starve or die in pursuit of food in weather and temperatures they aren’t built to withstand.

Poor bat.

I don’t think any of us would get a good night’s rest with that kind of thing going on. [Image: www.whitenosesyndrome.org/]

All this to say: While WNS is spread mostly between bat neighbors, humans can contribute to the problem if explorers delve into a cave where Pd spores are present, and then without proper precautions, wear the same gear to an uninfected location. That is, even though human transmission is neither the primary mode of transmission between bat populations, nor very common, precautionary measures are a critical aspect of protecting a very important species, especially when we haven’t entirely figured out how to combat it.

Snack!

Dinner on the fly. [Image: www.scienceinseconds.com/]

If you’re an avid spelunker or cave explorer, especially on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada, you’ve probably already read up on the appropriate decontamination protocol for your subterranean equipment. But for those of you who are new to the activity, it’s best to think of white-nose syndrome as an invasive species. One should endeavor to avoid contact with an area where the fungus has been documented, and certainly contact with bats, regardless of the confirmed presence of the fungus or not.

Here at Pocket Ranger®, we support the noble spirit of subterranean exploration! It’s a great way to stay active in the year’s hottest months and is a fun and enriching way of experiencing an inverse of our lives above ground. But with the deadly proliferation of white-nose syndrome in American bat populations, there are responsibilities that cave explorers must recognize. Hopefully we all keep them in mind as we spelunk our way out of the oppressive summer heat.

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!

Let Thermacell Up Your Mosquito-Repellent Game

As avid outdoors people, who hate being mosquito candy, we at Pocket Ranger® are pleased to announce our new sponsor, Thermacell®!

Thermacell logo.

Image: www.thermacell.com/

Thermacell is, of course, an incredible mosquito-repelling technology that bears a 98 percent effectiveness rating. It is used by governmental agencies, on military bases, and by civilians in their yards and in swamps, meadows, and any outdoor space across the U.S. where mosquitos lurk. The product is vetted and championed by campers, hunters, hikers, boaters, and anyone else who’s used it where flying, biting insects attempt to invade our personal space.

Camper with mosquito-repellent lantern.

This camper, right in the thick of the mosquito’s native habitat, opens his tent flap wide. Why? Because of those awesome Thermacell® mosquito-repelling lanterns he’s using to clearly excellent effect! [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Thermacell’s Patio and Outdoor Lanterns, Torches, and “Repeller” Appliances all create the same noninvasive and virtually odor-free area of protection for stationary uses and mobile ones. “How does this work?” you might ask. Well, the (easily-researched) secret ingredient in Thermacell’s mosquito repellent is allethrin, a synthetic form of the insecticide that occurs naturally in chrysanthemums. Allethrin is essentially odorless and works in Thermacell devices through butane-operated diffusion. There’s no oily topical application or the usual bug spray scent, and the effect covers anyone within its 15’ x 15’ area of protection.

Hikers that AREN'T itchy!

Look at these guys! Taking a placid, dimly lit walk without worrying about the meal that would no doubt be their exposed arms and calves, were it not for that shining Thermacell lantern! [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

The lanterns and torches have a convenient base or attach easily to a pole while emanating enough light to allow one to rummage through a fishing tackle or play a card game. The repeller devices easily attach to belts, backpacks, or a pocket for portable and hands-free protection against the bugs that pester even the best prepared hikers among us. If you’re changing the oil in your car, relaxing with friends around a bonfire, spending your day as a professional or recreational landscaper/gardener, or are just anyone who enjoys being outside as much as we do, this is the device for you. No more hovering pests looking to make a meal of you!

Grow food, don't BE food!

Here’s a representation (with some graphic embellishment) of how nice it can be to grow food and not BE food. Note: The svelte device working hard to keep the gardener’s hands free to work their green-thumbed magic! [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

Perhaps best of all, each of the repellent devices is designed to be lightweight and portable and are powered by AA batteries. So you don’t have to worry about cords or charging, and least of all, wrangling bulky lighting gear and bug spray out to your favorite campsite, tree stand, or fishing spot. It’s all compact and conveniently located within a single device!

To hunt and not be hunted.

Fun fact: Thermacell’s Earth Scent Mosquito Repeller is the only butane-operated mosquito repellent that doubles as a mask for human scent, which is as good a combination a hunter could hope for to keep the focus on hunting rather than being hunted. [Image: www.thermacell.com/]

If you think we’re stoked about our new sponsor, you’re right! We’re all about getting outside and doing what we love, and this device definitely adds to the quality of outdoor adventure. If you’re curious, you can find out more about this wonderful mosquito-repellent technology by visiting the Thermacell website here. You’ll learn about how the devices work, what they’re guarding against, and how to get your hands on your very own Lantern, Repeller, or Torch! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to use your favorite Pocket Ranger mobile apps to plan a perfect trip to give those mosquito repellers a whirl!

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!

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.