Several months ago, I was contacted by the folks at 45N68W (the coordinates of the northern terminus of the AT) to test a new insect repellent they have on the market. I took it with me to the Everglades in May, but wouldn’t you know … no mosquitoes to speak of! I’ve done my best to try it in a variety of habitats since, to ward off different types of critters that are a real pain this time of year.
To test this stuff, I’ve used it while hiking in a variety of habitats, from coastal mangrove forests where sand fleas and yellow flies are a pain, to wetlands along the edges of lakes where mosquitoes congregate, and upland forests where ticks and chiggers are a known problem. When hiking in the uplands, I concentrated on spraying the repellent from the knees down to the shoes, and in places with heavy mosquitoes, pretty much all exposed skin and some of the clothing, too.
I’ve tried quite a few non-DEET repellents before with miserable results. This repellent passed what I consider one of the top challenges in a Florida summer – a walk through Flat Island Preserve. Granted, I had to stop and spray my clothing, which I didn’t do at the car, to keep the mosquitoes and yellow flies from biting through the fabric. But the whine in my ears of the clouds of mosquitoes that seem to always be present along this trail (which is surrounded by the Okahumpa Marsh) stayed just that – a distant whine. No bites to speak of except those through the clothing before I sprayed it.
So what makes the magic in this stuff? It’s a mix of essential oils, including lemon eucalypus and citronella, witch hazel and rosemary, and what might be that special extra something that I haven’t encountered before in an all-organic repellent, neem, extracted from a well-known medicinal tree native to India.
The bottom line: I’m extremely impressed. If you’re looking for a non-toxic alternative to DEET, you need to try this product for yourself. I know I’ll be relying on it!
PS. My next test of the product: one of the worst spots I know for chiggers and ticks along the Withlacoochee River. Results to be shared after the hike!