Monday, November 18, 2013

Gear Review: Mosquitno Insect Repellent Products

Rocking a Mosquitno wrist band.

Mosquitno (emphasis on the "no") is a family run company out of Kansas City that makes natural insect repellent products using citronella oil. Currently their 2 main products are citronella infused wrist bands and stickers that are easy to apply, reusable, and come in a variety of colors and designs. 

Lets be real here. When we talk about "insect repellent" what we usually mean is "mosquito repellent". Mosquitoes can be a total nuisance, and when they are swarming can turn any outdoor adventure into an exercise in misery. Mosquitoes can also carry a variety of diseases like West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, and Malaria to name a few, so it's important that when we venture into areas with a mosquito presence we protect ourselves. That is where Mosquitno insect repellent products come in.

Unlike DEET (the chemical most commonly used in insect repellent), Mosquitno products use citronella oil, a natural insect repellent obtained from various species of lemongrass. The EPA lists citronella oil as low to non-toxic and says that citronella "will not pose unreasonable risks or adverse affects to humans or the environment." That safety factor is really what separates citronella oil from DEET. I know a lot of hikers (including myself) are hesitant about using DEET because of some of the risk factors involved from overuse or improper application, such as disorientation, dizziness, and even death in extreme cases.

On the other hand citronella oil is both a safe and effective repellent. It works by masking the scents your body gives off that would otherwise attract bugs like mosquitoes. In spray form, citronella (and other natural repellents) need to be regularly applied to remain effective, but with the Mosquitno brand products one band or sticker can last for hours.

Mosquitno products
Testing the Mosquitno products was somewhat of a challenge since the presence of mosquitoes was required. My first testing was done at home where it seemed like every time I went outside around dusk my feet and ankles were mauled by mosquitoes. I used the Mosquitno stickers (called Spotz), and just stuck one directly to the top of my foot. The Spotz are basically small round citronella infused stickers that will stick to pretty much anything. They are also easy to remove and last up to 72 hours. Since Spotz come in a package of 6 you are looking at 432 hours of bug protection in one package. Pretty cool! The best part is that when you go inside or the temps dip and the bugs disappear, you can reseal the sticker in the package to maintain effectiveness.

The silicone wrist bands (called Bandz) work the same way. They come in adult and child sizes, and slip on just like a bracelet. The Bandz last up to 150 hours and can also be resealed. What I love about the Bandz is the convenience. Keep it in your pocket until the bugs show up. When the bugs are gone, just take the Bandz off, reseal it, and shove it back into your pocket. No fuss, no muss. No gunk on your skin. No funky chemical smell. No worrying about applying another coat or ruining your fabrics.

The only issue one might have while wearing the Bandz is that the citronella smell is extremely powerful. So powerful in fact that your hiking mates and camp buddies will smell it when they get near you. The lemon-like smell is quite pleasant to me (in fact citronella oil is commonly used in aromatherapy), but some may find it a bit much (like my buddy James last weekend for example).

Overall, I really think the folks at Mosquitno are on to something. I like the idea of NOT using sprays or creams, and am always on the lookout for safe yet effective alternatives to DEET. In my experience citronella oil repellents are most effective when the bugs are light to moderate, and Mosquitno Bandz and Spotz are ideal for those types of conditions.

Mosquitno Spotz on my foot.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Mosquitno Bandz and Spotz for free from Mosquitno as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication