Is Permetherin beneficial in the Sierras?

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    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Headed to the Sierras for a few weeks in about a month, never been there before. Being from the Midwest, ticks are a big concern (lime disease) and I use permethrin treated pants here (RailRiders Eco-Mesh). I don't like the thought of wearing a pesticide for a few weeks on end if not needed. Don't like DEET much either. Should I be OK in my normal untreated convertible pants that I use the most or would I still be better off using the treated Eco-Mesh pants? Thanks

    Eileen Duncan
    BPL Member


    Locale: The Sierra or the SF Bay Area

    Doing trail work, I am often a sitting target (literally) for mosquitoes in the Sierra. They LOVE me, and they drive me crazy. So, although I'm trying to eliminate chemicals from my life, two summers ago I finally broke down and decided to treat my clothing with Permethrin. Bought two bottles; followed the directions to the T; and treated pretty much everything but base layers, down, and rain gear. I did not notice any difference in the mosquitoes' interest in me or the number of bites I got.

    I'm not sure about ExOffico's anti-bug clothing, but a friend of mine thinks her ExOfficio hat keeps the skeeters away from her head. As far as more natural products go, I now use Herbal Armor™ Insect Repellent; it works surprisingly well! Cutter's "natural" bug spray products seem to work okay too. Of course, if you're going as light as possible, those options are out. I'm doing the JMT in a couple of weeks and will bring a little DEET. I think you'll be okay in your regular convert pants. The bugs will probably be more interested in your feet/ankles, shoulders, head, and hands than your legs anyway.

    For the morning and evenings, a head net may be the ticket to maintaining your sanity. Unless I'm super early or late in the season, I wouldn't backpack in the Sierra without one!

    Have a great trip!

    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Thanks Eileen. I gather more fear of mosquitoes than ticks in the Sierras. This is good because I like my convertibles more than the Eco-Mesh anyway. Being it is a low snow year, I would imagine mosquitoes will not be too bad. The headnet and small amount of DEET are on the list just to be safe.

    Have fun on the JMT, that is where we are headed too!

    Rick Dreher
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northernish California

    Hi Ryan,

    This year, mosquitoes will be long gone in a month most everywhere–it's that dry. Ticks are not present in alpine zones (famous last words)–they're more concentrated in the foothills and coast ranges, along with the poison oak and rattlesnakes. Yes, paradise.

    I love having treated clothing when mosquitoes are around, though, as I prefer that to slathering in DEET. It definitely reduces the bite count.



    Stephen Barber
    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    Permethrin kills bugs by contact, though it takes a kittle while. DEET confuses mosquito's ( and other biting bugs?)sense of smell. A mozzie will happily bite you through a permethrin soaked t-shirt, then fly away and die. At least I hope so – I like to think the bugs that bite me gotten bitten back!

    About the only place in the higher Sierras you might possibly run into a tick is in a damp or wet meadow. Our ticks out here don't seem to like the dry, or the high. Mosquitos show no such good sense. But it looks like a pretty mi nimal mosquito year.

    drowning in spam


    Locale: SoCal

    Mosquitoes didn't really seem to bother me unless I stopped moving, although at one of our work camps there were a pair of mosquitoes that would bite me in the same spot on my hand every day as I returned to camp. Those two were very quick and applied a painful bite. The rest weren't much of a problem though. It seemed like they preferred to bite through surfaces facing the sky and in the edge of my hat where they could reach through and get me in the forehead. So while sitting they'd get me in my shoulders, knees and then that forehead spot. Hands too if I didn't pay attention. If you carry a giant bandana, you might spread it over your hat and shoulders to safeguard two of those bite areas.

    I used permithrin and DEET, but I still got bites. I didn't compare against the rest of the crew, so I don't know how well the chemicals worked.

    Walter Carrington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mass.

    Permethrin does not repel mosquitoes, but kills insects that crawl on it. A bit of bare skin an inch from permethrin treated clothing is almost unaffected by the permethrin. It does help with mosquitoes because they are less likely to bite through thin cloth, i.e., mosquitoes will bite through a thin cotton shirt but won't bite through it after treating with permethrin.

    The most effective approach is permethrin treated clothing and DEET on bare skin. When they're bad a head net is good. I highly recommend Peter Vacco's head nets:

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