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Mosby: The bugs are out - battle them

Posted: April 12, 2014 - 1:29pm

The calendar tells us we are a day away from the center of April. We have had a cold winter, coldest in a number of years. Spring has been wet and cold.

Did it kill pests like ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes?

Hah. Already this writer has encountered all three, with a couple of ticks requiring careful removal in the evening after getting home from an outing. Chigger itching has lasted several days. Mosquitoes seem lethargic at present, but they are on hand.

I am convinced that there is no cure, no solution for ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes, but all of us can fight their attacks by preventative measures.

The first and most common method is to spray or douse or wipe on insect repellents when you are headed into woods, grassy areas or generally anywhere outdoors.

Alright, what is the best product for this?

Many a friendly argument — and occasionally a few not-so-friendly — have taken place on this topic.

Use this, don’t use that. Try this at night when the wind is blowing. Put on that in early morning and change to something else later in the day. The doctor recommends this. Here is what lumberjacks use.

This writer uses two products, usually not at the same time. Pardon me while I scratch a chigger bite.

One is a spray with the chemical DEET. Off and Deep Woods Off are a couple of brands found in most stores. For most people, contact of the spray with skin doesn’t bother them. For some folks, very young children in particular, it can cause problems.

The other product is Permethrin, which comes in a number of brand names including Repel, sold at Walmart. You put Permethrin on clothes and shoes, not on skin. It is not a repellent, it is a bug killer.

Treating your pants, shirts, socks and shoes with Permethrin will last for days — if you don’t wash them. And some people claim it will last through a single washing but not repeat washings.

Some other methods of combatting ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes include pet collars. Yes. In Arkansas, a number of U.S. Forest Service rangers, and some Game and Fish field people, use dog and cat flea collars around each ankle — over socks, not touching the skin. They swear by it this tactic.

Fairly well-known is the use of clothes dryer sheets like Bounce. Opinions are sharply divided here. Some folks say it works, some say it does not. Many users put the dryer sheets under their caps. Others put them in pockets.

An oldtimers’ repellent still in use, but not commonly, is sulfur powder. It’s hard to find sometimes, but drug stores and some garden outlets may stock it. The sulfur can be sprinkled in and on socks and pants. Get wet, though, and it will lose is effectiveness quickly.

Wearing rubber boots seems to work well for ticks and chiggers, not for mosquitoes. Tuck pants legs into the books. The critters won’t crawl up the rubber books like they can pants legs and shirt sleeves. But, yes, rubber boots are hot and uncomfortable in warm weather.

Wear long pants. Sure, shorts are cooler, but bare legs are magnets for ticks and chiggers. Skeeters too.

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