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Travel Medicine Insect Repellents Field Test

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  • Jeff Widman
    Here is my Field Test on the Travel Medicine Insect Repellents. Now that I m back from Vancouver Island, I m catching up on the various things that I need to
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 1, 2002
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      Here is my Field Test on the Travel Medicine Insect Repellents.
      Now that I'm back from Vancouver Island, I'm catching up on the various
      things that I need to do. Thanks to Ron Martino for giving me permission to
      wait until after my seven weeks of North Dakota/Vancouver Island to write
      this report.
      I would appreciate it if list members would critique this and let me
      know. I know that I missed a few things, including a few commas here and
      there, but I'm not quite sure where. (Please note: it would be best to let
      me know the changes privately, as per the current protocol.)
      I also need help identifying the two types of ticks that I found while
      in North Dakota. Read down the report for a description, found under the
      section entitled 'Ticks.' I'd really like to know the name of the 'big white
      nasy ugly white ticks,' and a confirmation description of Wood ticks. Wood
      ticks was what everyone at camp called the red ticks, but I'm not totally
      sure.
      Jeff

      -------


      Item being tested: Travel Medicine Insect Repellents
      Report Number: Field Report (#2)

      Name: Jeff Widman
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6'3"
      Weight: 164 lbs.
      Age: 16 yrs
      Area of Residence: Bellingham, WA (two hours north of Seattle.)
      E-mail address: jeffwidman@...
      Date: 7-31-02
      (Please see end of report for a short biography of my backpacking exploits.)


      Manufacturer: Travel Medicine 1-800-TravMed (1-800-872-8633)

      Manufacturer's Website: http://www.fitebite.com, which redirects you to
      their 'true' website: http://www.travmed.com/

      Intro/Description:
      Once again, I will be commenting on each of the repellents individually. As
      a dedicated tester, I have traveled 1500 miles away, gone overseas, and even
      traveled to a foreign country to test these repellents. Please see the
      section entitled 'Test Duration/Location/Conditions' for more information.
      I personally feel that testing bug repellents in real life, outside of a
      laboratory, is a highly subjective matter. I considered attempting to
      eliminate as many variables as possible in order to have non-biased tests,
      but then decided that it would be more useful to just use the repellents a
      lot in normal everyday situations. Please be aware that my results are
      probably slightly skewed. Besides, what is a long-term test for anyway?
      I will be categorizing this report into three sections; mosquitoes, ticks,
      and flies. Within each section I will report on each specific repellent.
      Please also read the note near the end entitled 'Permethrin.' In the Long
      Term Report, I will be listing each repellent separately, with my
      conclusions for each repellent.

      Test Duration/Location/Conditions:
      I live near several small ponds that abound with mosquitoes. These
      mosquitoes are amazingly strong, persistent, determined, and bloodthirsty.
      Obviously, I have had a little bit of time to test the repellents against
      these killer mosquitoes. However, I have only had a little testing time at
      home, because, dedicated tester that I am, I spent five weeks in North
      Dakota attempting to repel ticks and flies. Actually, I went as a counselor
      to a boy's camp in North Dakota. (I regret to report that none of the
      repellents successfully fended off the bloodthirsty campers.) I also learned
      that the ubiquitous mosquito really is ubiquitous when I found six new
      mosquito bites on me after a particularly sweaty game of capture the flag.
      As a dedicated tested, I went overseas to another country to continue my
      testing. In other words, I took a two-hour ferry ride to Vancouver Island,
      in Canada. It was supposed to be two things: a) a nice family vacation, and
      b) a chance to test the repellents against some killer mosquitoes. It was a
      wonderful vacation with my family, but the expected mosquitoes never really
      materialized. I had expected hordes of bloodsuckers, but found only a few
      mosquitoes at one campground where we spent two nights. As much as I lost
      out on an expected testing opportunity, I still realized that not everything
      always works out properly. Oh, well. (Besides, why should I bewail a lack of
      mosquitoes?) While on Vancouver Island, my family and I hiked up Mount
      Arrowsmith, the tallest point on the island. I unexpectedly found flies on
      that memorable hike (and incidentally I learned that Canadian trailbuilders
      seldom use switchbacks; they just build the trails straight up the
      mountainside, literally.)

      Mosquitoes:
      The worst mosquitoes I faced were found in North Dakota. According to a
      biology teacher back there, dragonflies eat mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are
      terrible for about two weeks. After that two-week time period, the
      dragonflies hatch, and most of the mosquitoes get eaten up. I probably just
      totally mangled his scientific way of explaining it, but it makes sense to
      me.
      Deet is proven repellent against mosquitoes. Thus it came as no surprise to
      me when both Ultrathon and Fite Bite 30 repelled 95% of the mosquitoes. The
      main differences between the two repellents became obvious when I applied
      them both in the morning, and then tested them in the evening.
      Comparatively, both had the same results, but Ultrathon, utilizing a time
      release formula, performed better after several hours had elapsed.
      Fite Bite 6-Hour did not provide much, if any protection against
      mosquitoes. I wore it for several games of capture the flag, but then gave
      up on it after sustaining multiple bites to all portions of my anatomy. I am
      not sure that I applied it thoroughly enough, so I will try it again against
      mosquitoes on several upcoming backpacking trips.
      Permethrin worked great. I haven't used Permethrin 13.3% yet, as I'm saving
      it for when I go backpacking, but I did use the Fite Bite trigger spray. It
      was very handy, especially for spraying right onto mosquitoes, then watching
      them die.

      Ticks:
      The only place I found ticks was in North Dakota. There were two types of
      ticks, big white ones, and Wood ticks. I don't know the name of the big
      white ones, but they were great big, ugly white things. Several were found
      on the horses, but no one ever found any on themselves. Unfortunately, (or
      fortunately,) I never had a chance to test the repellents against the big
      white ticks.
      My testing was confined to Wood ticks, which are little red things, about
      the size of the end of a pencil eraser. Whenever you walked through grass
      and brushed up against the blade of grass they were on, they crawled onto
      your leg. Some days I found six or seven ticks, some days I found none. I
      found an average of a tick a day. One particular time, I walked a distance
      of 300 yards and found seven ticks in a time span of less than five minutes.
      None of the repellents worked against these ticks. I surmise that the
      ticks' method of falling/climbing right onto whatever disturbed their
      resting-place meant that the repellents could not repel a touch based
      acquisition method. Overall, the ticks were pretty common. They were a
      nuisance, but I had fun with them on the 'Arm of Death' (See the section
      entitled Permethrin.) I also learned that the small sharp can-opener blade
      of my Swiss Army Tinker made a great tick decapitator.


      Flies:
      Vancouver Island, specifically Mount Arrowsmith, was the main place that I
      found flies. I did find them in North Dakota, but they only bothered the
      horses, not the riders. Since I was only able to test the repellents for one
      day, I enlisted my sisters' help.
      Both of the Deet based products worked great. Once again, near the end of
      the day, Ultrathon's superior longevity became apparent. Also, please note
      that both of the Deet products, Ultrathon and Fite Bite 30, could be
      eventually sweated off.
      I was also able to test Fite Bite 6-Hour against flies on the hike up to
      Mount Arrowsmith, and in North Dakota. I had mediocre success against the
      flies in North Dakota. Most of the flies weren't the biting kind; they were
      interested in the food that was leftover after we ate outside in the
      evenings. They were very annoying, but they were not the carnivorous kind.
      Overall, no flies bit me when I used the Fite Bite 6-Hour. Neither did I get
      bit when I wasn't using Fite Bite 6-Hour, nor did anyone else ever get bit.
      (However, I should mention that horseflies accompanied us on every trail
      ride. A friend of mine and I competed to see who could get the biggest
      splotch of blood from a dead horsefly. You don't want to know how big it
      was. The horseflies only bothered the horses, never the riders. Moral of the
      story: always bring along a horse whenever you know there will be
      horseflies.) Hiking up Mount Arrowsmith, the flies were a bite worse (poor
      spelling intended.) We had to keep moving because stopping meant continually
      swatting. My sister and I both thoroughly applied Fite Bite 6-Hour. She
      received one bite an hour later. Otherwise, it prevented the flies from
      landing on us, though not from flying formation in close proximity to us. I
      was satisfied with Fite Bite 6-Hour as a fly repellent.

      Permethrin:
      I have not yet used the Permethrin 13.3% bug repellent. I will be applying
      it sometime this coming weekend in preparation for four backpacking trips
      upcoming. I have used the Fite Bite Trigger Spray, but only slightly. I
      sprayed it on a one arm of my synthetic Zip-T. Then I went to a marshy area,
      stirred up the mosquitoes, and successfully attempted to let them land on my
      one arm, but unsuccessfully attempted to let them land only on my one arm.
      While I did get bit several times, I was never bitten through the treated
      arm of the Zip-T. Mosquitoes landed, then died a few seconds later. It was a
      very emotionally fulfilling experience to watch them die.
      I also let several ticks that I pulled off of my leg crawl onto the treated
      arm of the Zip-T. They died too. Some campers were watching me do this, and
      after that, any ticks that anyone found were put on the 'Arm of Death.' I
      re-applied the Permethrin spray halfway through camp, because the ticks were
      taking longer and longer to die.

      Overall Conclusions:
      I am satisfied with all of the repellents. They all have their specific
      niches, and their problems. Some, like Fite Bite 30, suffer from packaging
      problems. Others, like Fite Bite 6-Hour, have a distinct odor to them. Still
      others, like Ultrathon and Permethrin, appear to be great for backpacking. I
      will be writing up my overall conclusions on each repellent in the Long Term
      Report. Until then, may my pain enrich your life.

      About the author (me): I have spent around 15 nights actually backpacking.
      During those three trips, I have covered close to 100 miles (160 kilometers)
      carrying a 35+ pound backpack (15+ kilograms.) However, my parents
      (especially my dad,) have been enthralled with the outdoors since long
      before I was born. As my three younger siblings and I have grown, we have
      day-hiked over 1000 (1600 kilometers) miles as a family. Over the past year
      and a half, backpacking has become a natural extension of day-hiking. The
      summer of '01 was the first summer that my dad really started taking my
      siblings and I backpacking. For this coming summer ('02,) we have already
      tentatively planned another 15-20 nights (125+ miles, 200+ kilometers) of
      backpacking.
      On another note, I am a very analytical person, more commonly known as a
      gear freak. I have spent many tens of hours learning about gear on the
      Internet. I have also spend many hours testing gear, returning some gear,
      keeping other gear, as I continually strive to achieve that perfect balance
      of weight-function-durability-cost. My current shelter is an old Sierra
      Designs tent, but I have been seriously considering either a hammock or a
      modified tarp design (ID Silshelter, HS Tarp Tent, etc.) I live and backpack
      mainly in the North Cascades. I have day-hiked in the following National
      Parks: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Yellowstone,
      Glacier, North Cascades, and quite a few others that I am forgetting. My
      family currently averages between 2-3 mph (3.5 - 5 kph) while both
      day-hiking (faster,) and backpacking (slower.)
      Our average day-hike is approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) long.
      Currently, our favorite backpacking trips are 4-6 nights long, and
      approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) long. My current base pack weight is
      around 25 pounds (approximately 11 kilograms,) depending on conditions.
    • starnescr
      ... then watching ... You should show a little remorse. Sounds like you enjoyed watching then die. ... types of ... the big ... were found ... Unfortunately,
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 1, 2002
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        --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "Jeff Widman" <jeffwidman@v...> wrote:
        > It
        > was very handy, especially for spraying right onto mosquitoes,
        then watching
        > them die.

        You should show a little remorse. Sounds like you enjoyed watching
        then die.
        >
        > Ticks:
        > The only place I found ticks was in North Dakota. There were two
        types of
        > ticks, big white ones, and Wood ticks. I don't know the name of
        the big
        > white ones, but they were great big, ugly white things. Several
        were found
        > on the horses, but no one ever found any on themselves.
        Unfortunately, (or
        > fortunately,) I never had a chance to test the repellents against
        the big
        > white ticks.
        > My testing was confined to Wood ticks, which are little red
        things, about
        > the size of the end of a pencil eraser. Whenever you walked
        through grass
        > and brushed up against the blade of grass they were on, they
        crawled onto
        > your leg. Some days I found six or seven ticks, some days I found
        none. I
        > found an average of a tick a day. One particular time, I walked a
        distance
        > of 300 yards and found seven ticks in a time span of less than
        five minutes.
        > None of the repellents worked against these ticks. I surmise that
        the
        > ticks' method of falling/climbing right onto whatever disturbed
        their
        > resting-place meant that the repellents could not repel a touch
        based
        > acquisition method. Overall, the ticks were pretty common. They
        were a
        > nuisance, but I had fun with them on the 'Arm of Death' (See the
        section
        > entitled Permethrin.) I also learned that the small sharp can-
        opener blade
        > of my Swiss Army Tinker made a great tick decapitator.

        The big white ones were the little red ones before filling up with
        blood. Also you might want to disenfect the can opener blade before
        using it on a can. I hear ticks are nasty little critters.


        I did spot a couple of grammer errors. Will get back to you on them.

        Coy Boy
      • dawnhark
        ... Thanks to Ron Martino for giving me permission to wait until after my seven weeks of North Dakota/Vancouver Island to write this report. ### Hi, Jeff,
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 2, 2002
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          --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "Jeff Widman" <jeffwidman@v...> wrote:
          Thanks to Ron Martino for giving me permission to wait until after my
          seven weeks of North Dakota/Vancouver Island to write this report.


          ### Hi, Jeff, sorry about the confusion there. I now understand you
          had indicated in your application that you would be gone during the
          Field Test due date. I was given the job of Monitoring this test after
          the applicants were chosen by Ron. (I do read almost every post, but,
          strangely enough, I had not memorized the apps of all the potential
          testers.) For future tests, if you think you might be unable to post
          at the required times, just drop a quick note to your Test
          Monitor--thanks. Oh, and Happy Birthday!


          > (Please note: it would be best to let me know the changes privately,
          as per the current protocol.)


          ### This will continue to happen on-list.


          > I also need help identifying the two types of ticks that I found


          ### I am very happy to report that I will be of no use to you here,
          since (thankfully!) there aren't any ticks in my stomping grounds. I'm
          sure folks in tick-zones will have input for you.


          > I will be categorizing this report into three sections; mosquitoes,
          ticks, and flies. Within each section I will report on each specific
          repellent.


          ### Nice organizational concept; I like it.



          > Deet is proven repellent against mosquitoes. Thus it came as no
          surprise to
          > me when both Ultrathon and Fite Bite 30 repelled 95% of the mosquitoes.


          ### Consider changing to "Deet is a proven..."


          > I surmise that the ticks' method of falling/climbing right onto
          whatever disturbed their resting-place meant that the repellents could
          not repel a touch based acquisition method.


          ### I take your meaning here to be that the ticks fall/climb onto your
          body, and the repellent doesn't work to keep them from initially
          contacting your skin. Did you find that the repellent also failed to
          induce them to depart once they arrived?


          ### Thanks for the report, Jeff, and for taking the time and trouble
          to edit it so well prior to posting. Good job!

          Dawn, your Travel Medicine Monitor
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