Jul 9, 2012 at 7:44 am #1291805
Hello! I purchased this insect repellent and have put it on my clothes and gear, and am just wondering if anyone out there has any experience with this? the bottle states you still need to use Deet on exposed areas, but was wondering if anyone with experience with the product actually does this or if the fact that it is on my clothes is repellent enough?Jul 9, 2012 at 8:23 am #1893322
Stephen BarberBPL Member
Permethrin is NOT a repellent. It's a poison to bugs. It kills bugs that come in contact with it. It's the active ingredient in anti-flea shampoos, collars and treatments for dogs. It kills the fleas. Put on clothes, it kills ticks and other bugs on humans. It will kill the mosquito that bites you, but might not kill it fast enough to keep her from biting you at least once. It will kill the tick that crawls up your leg looking for a tasty meal before it bites you.
DEET is a chemical that confuses the smelling system of mosquitoes and some other bugs. It keeps them from biting you by keeping them from figuring out just where your bare skin is.Jul 9, 2012 at 8:28 am #1893324
I don't backpack without my pants being treated. I wear pants and socks treated at a minimum. I've been in some bad tick country and didn't get any. I love the stuff.Jul 9, 2012 at 10:43 am #1893358
Yeah, I use it. That said, it is not much of a repellant. It does seem to repell those insects that rely on smell to target you, but, not all of them. Like Stephen was saying, it may be that the ones I noticed being "repelled" were already dosed heavy enough to die. It is (or used to be) the active ingrediant in RID or NIX for human use for lice, scabies. The military used it for clothing in the Viet Nam era. I picked it up from a vet ten or more years ago. I believe they still use it in jungle areas.
There are several caveats for usage: The first and formost is that it IS a poison. It will also loosly bond with most clothing. Some cothing does not work that well. Things that do not absorb water do not bond with it. Wool, cotton, nylon, bond pretty well with it. Poly propylene does not bond too well. It is fairly deadly to cats. NY restricts usage of it as do some other states. It is not something you apply in a washer. Anything left over will go through a treatment plant and kill fish, amphibians, etc. Once it is on cloths, and rinsed, it stays pretty good, through many washings, depending on the clothing…it does not wash out. Any leftovers, should be exposed to UV (bright, direct sunlight) for a day or two to break down the remainder. Use caution with any poison, but in particular this one, it kills honey bees, too. A lot of concern centers around it's use in agricultural areas because it kills ALL bugs…good and bad.
Sprays work but more effective is dipping cloths in a 5 gallon bucket. Then, letting them air dry. Then rinsing out the remainder in a 5 gallon bucket. It appears safe enough to pour the remainder on your driveway and exposing it to bright sunlight. Caution should be used around cats, again. It is also sold as a bug dust or ant killer. Normally, concentrations should be about 2-3% for treating cloths. But, since it sort-of acts like a dye, you can effectivly treat cloths with .25% bug dusts. You need to add about 8 times the amount. I have found about 1/4 cup of .25% dust to about 1 quart of water will treat 1 set of clothing: pants and shirt. After drying, I rinse these in a 5 gallon bucket, pouring the excess water on the driveway (after locking the cat in the house for the day.) Then I wash them. I do not do my socks since I wear long, high topped socks. Nor do I do my underwear/long johns. The long johns are polypropylene which does not pick it up that well or smartwool (merino wool) which is worn under something else. In either case, it is not needed since it will be in my sleeping bag, under my pants or other clothing.
I suggest you study up on the stuff and make your own decision. I do not recommend it to anyone without insuring they know the risks. A lot of poisons can cause cancers and other odd diseases. Secondary kills remind me of the older DDT killing off the birds, too. For my time in the woods, I feel it is worth it. You may not feel that way. Use caution and be responsible with any left overs.Jul 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm #1893396
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
I use both DEET and Permethrin. As mentioned above…
1. DEET is for you (i.e. exposed skin areas — or areas under thin garments)
2. Permethrin — for your clothing (including socks) and gear (e.g. boots, tent)
My experience, the two go well together. DEET is fantastic except when skeeters are heavily concentrated. Being "transparent" to skeeters is not much help when the place is saturated with them. DEET is suboptimal against black biting flies though. Permethrin works very well for me.Jul 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm #1893403
Scott HaydenBPL Member
I spray my stuff a couple times during the summer with the Sawyer spray from bass pro or REI. Not a single, LIVE, tick on me so far this year. I reapply after about 5-6 weeks. I sprayed my pack too just to keep crawlies off of it. Also apply on my hammock suspension but not the entire hammock. So far it works.Jul 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm #1893418
Dave HeissBPL Member
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
I was checking out the 6-7 different permethrin products for horses and livestock that were on the shelf at our local feed store yesterday, and while all these products have permethrin concentrations higher than the 0.5% found in Sawyer spray products I also noticed that many had other active ingredients – and almost all of them also contained "petroleum products".
For permethrin users who mix up dunk/spray solutions using products formulated for animals, has this been a problem? Is there a "safe" brand you'd recommend?Jul 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm #1893423
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
If you're using Permethrin yourself, just buy the pre-mixed Sawyer. It's more expensive per ounce, but most people use so little that by the time they've used up the container, it's several years old and probably lost some of it's effectiveness.
If you mix it yourself, it's poison so you have to use the right precautions. On a small amount it's not worth the hassle.
If you had a barn full of bugs, then probably the concentrate would make sense.Jul 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm #1893493
Ticks are bad in my area, during the summer. This year I started treating my clothes with Permethrin to ward off ticks. The last several times that I have been out I have not had any tick bites and everyone that I was hiking with had multiple bites. I also tuck my pant legs in my socks. I did find a dead one on my sock(sock was also treated). I don't use any other repellents. I am becoming a Permethrin believer.Jul 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm #1893498
Ken T.BPL Member
You can go to Home Depot and buy Ortho Basic Solutions Lawn & Garden Insect Killer in a 32 ounce bottle of 2.50% solution for less than double the Sawyer price. If you toss this into a gallon of water, you'll have 150 ounces (10 Sawyer bottle equivalents) of the same stuff.Jul 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm #1893505
FYI- the military still uses Permethrin. There's nothing "Vietnam era" about it. The FRACUs that I was issued were pre-treated, as a matter of fact.
Permetrin-treated clothes aren't really meant to keep mosquitos and biting flies off of you, though I'm sure they help somewhat. Wearing Permethrin-treated headgear and long sleeves/pantlegs probably optimizes any aid it will give in that department.
Where permethrin-treated clothing excels is in keeping crawly bloodsuckers off of you- fleas, lice, ticks, chiggers, scabies, etc. You know- the critters that like to crawl under your clothes. Not so much the flying/buzzing bloodsuckers but as I said I'm sure it helps, especially if you dress properly. Luckily (?) I live in an area where the crawlies are more of an issue than the fliers so I make do with just Permethrin.
Permethrin is probably less toxic than DEET. Well, less acutely toxic. But both DEET and Permethrin have a very long safety record. A few idiots HAVE managed to poison themselves to the point of death or hospitalization with DEET but they generally had to try really hard to do it. That kind of idiocy takes PRACTICE, brother. I haven't done a google search but I haven't heard of Permethrin poisonings.
EDIT– Yes, a brief google search shows Permethrin to be much less toxic (to humans). And by "toxic" I mean acutely so, not chronically. (The party line still seems to be that both have minimal chronic toxicity.) Conversely there are pretty regular descriptions of clinical DEET toxicosis in the literature but, as I hinted, you nearly have to bathe in the stuff.Jul 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm #1893507
Ken T.BPL Member
They spray livestock with it. It's also in K9 Advantix. Organic base.Jul 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm #1893535
Evan McCarthyBPL Member
I love Permethrin for ease of use. Just treat your clothes and put them on when dry and ready to hike. I don't have anything against deet (and will put it on when the bugs are bad) but gosh darn it, it smells and tastes horrible. No matter how careful I am, I always end up feeling I can taste it for hours. I don't worry about being poisoned or developing a cancerous swoon — I just don't like it's terrible taste.Jul 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm #1893538
Travis LeannaBPL Member
Its good stuff. As others have said, keeps the crawlies at bay, and makes the flying biters think twice. You will still get a few mosquito bites, but I think that the Permethrin gets to them and most fly off (hopefully to die).Jul 10, 2012 at 8:59 am #1893645
Thanks, I guess I will take some deet too, was hoping to avoid it but seems like both are still needed.Jul 10, 2012 at 9:44 am #1893655
Great tip on the Ortho Basic. I will look into that.Jul 10, 2012 at 9:55 am #1893659
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
If you get the spray on Permethrin it's easier to contain.
Hang up your clothes, spray them, and just leave them there to dry. All the poison is on the outside of the clothes (with a little spray floating away)
If you soak your clothes in Permethrin solution, then you have to pull the clothes out with your hands, wring them out, and hang them – hard to avoid getting it on you. And the remaining solution has to be dumped down the sewer where it will contaminate the environment.Jul 10, 2012 at 11:40 am #1893681
I found this online:
Mostly negative but brings up secondary or semi-metabolized byproducts.
Choose for yourself after reviewing this and other writings.Jul 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm #1893699
jeffrey armbrusterBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
My deet-free anti-mosquito set up is this: long nylon pants, a western mountaineering sun-shirt that I spray permethrin on, sun-grubbies for my hands, a head net. In the worst of the season I use a drape-style sun hat that can be velcro-closed when you enter a cloud of moquitoes. And then a shell for camp.
In my experience, skeeters can't bite through nylon. The WM sun shirt is loose fitting and has some nylon in the weave. Three weeks ago I was virtually unbitten wearing this set up. I don't even think that I needed permethrin on the shirt. Even the sun-grubbies protect my hands, which are very vulnerable because I use poles. I will spritz deet on the sun grubbies if necessary; then remove the grubbies when I eat (which I do anyway since they really do get grubby.) But I haven't needed to for a season and a half.
I always wore a capilene base layer for my hiking shirt but it provides no protection from mosquitoes, although permethrin helps a lot. I'm real happy that I traded for a loose fitting sun shirt.Jul 11, 2012 at 10:32 am #1893950
Steven McAllisterBPL Member
@brooklynkayakLocale: South West US
I used the concentrated stuff that you get at farm supplies a lot, but it is a pain in the ass to use to treat clothes. You have to be more careful how you use it. It must be mixed properly and clothes soaked in a bucket.
It also seems to have that faint pesticide smell on your clothes until washed a few times.
The Sawyer spray is much easier to use and doesn't seem to smell much at all after the initial washing.
I highly recommend that you do treat your hiking clothes with permethrin. Lyme is way to common anymore to take chances. I have many friends who have had it, some with very bad results.
Just keep it away from cats.Jul 11, 2012 at 10:35 am #1893956
Some quotes from James' link:
"Pyrethroid insecticides are some of the most widely used pesticides in the world because they are believed to be less harmful to humans than other pesticides."
"The most dangerous route is inhalation through the lungs, as this allows the chemical to move directly to target sites (e.g., the brain) without being metabolized by the liver and other organs.[…] Absorption through the skin is slow and it appears that only a fraction of the applied chemical penetrates the skin, thus reducing its toxicity via this route.[…] Among the general population, ingestion (usually as residues on food) is the most common way that people are exposed to permethrin. The health department advises “Make sure you wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them”"
Every so often someone shows up ranting about the dangers of DEET and Permethrin. (I'm not saying that James is doing so- this is just a general observation.) These tend to be the same people who are unrepentant smokers because "it's natural" and they all recommend various alternatives that are essentially placebos- citronella, lemon oil, eucalyptus, etc. (There actually is one other agent out there that's meant to be applied to skin and that might have decent efficacy and probably is less neurotoxic than DEET, but I forget what the name of it is…)
The TEDX website that James linked is dedicated to enumerating possible causes for people with very obscure endocrinological derangements, no matter how much of a stretch it might be. Needless to say, this is not most people. If you actually look up the toxicological studies on permethrin you'll see that the doses required to have a clinically detectable effect upon a human are absurdly high.
DEET, as I have said, is another matter. I'll take permethrin over DEET any day of the week, but even DEET doesn't scare me- it's just an annoyance unless you're an idiot. Mostly I hate the greasy carriers that it comes in more than any worry about toxicity. As several people here have said, it is probably more useful to simply dress appropriately- so I do that and carry a headnet if it is needed, and since my bloodsucking threat is more crawlies than fliers I use permethrin if I use anything at all.
But I do pity those of you in Minnesota and Alaska and other places where the mosquitoes carry off cats and have unions and all.
EDIT– Aha! That other stuff for skin application is called picardin (or icardin), and it is used more in Europe and Australia. Honestly I don't know much about it but it is touted as being less toxic than DEET.
But it, DEET, and permethrin are the ONLY agents able to be applied to humans that have been proven to have ANY durable effect. Not lemon oil, not eucalyptus, not citronella, etc. If anyone says otherwise they have bad data- usually from the manufacturer involved. :) And I quiblle with the word "durable" because some of them do have an effect for five or ten minutes or so- that's how the manufacturers have their "scientific studies" showing that they are effective.Jul 11, 2012 at 11:05 am #1893968
Jeremy and AngelaBPL Member
@requiemLocale: Northern California
(There actually is one other agent out there that's meant to be applied to skin and that might have decent efficacy and probably is less neurotoxic than DEET, but I forget what the name of it is…)
I believe that's Picaridin (spelling may vary). Supposed to perform as well as DEET without the side effect of melting plastics.Jul 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm #1893988
Dean, I have no problems using permethrin and DEET in combination to avert the black flies in spring and following hords of mosquitoes, then punkies in the ADK's. I just don't like to recommend a poison to be in constant contact with anyone without their knowlege and through ignorance. I do indeed use it, just never recommend it. People should choose for themselves after their own research.
Citronella does NOT work well in the ADK's. Nor, eucalyptus. Picardin does not last as long as DEET. 2-3 applications over a couple days will hold me about a week with maybe one more application. I have to use 4-5 applications of Picardin per day…tried it. It does not build up a layer on my cloths (around cuffs, collars, and hat brims) as well as DEET.Jul 12, 2012 at 7:24 am #1894231
Yeah, I knew where you were coming from, James. My interest was piqued only because links like that can sometimes scare people who don't know any better. They see mention of scary effects on the brain, confusion, tremors, convulsions, etc., and they don't realize that they'd actually have to DRINK a mug of the stuff to get that effect. "My God- it mucks with my BRAIN CHEMISTRY ?!?" So I was just trying to put it in perspective.
I read up quite a lot on both permethrin and DEET- by which I mean the actual scientific studies- when this same discussion came up here a couple of years ago and I gotta say I feel perfectly safe using permethrin. Flea/tick/louse-vectored rickettsial diseases scare me a HECK of a lot more than the permethrin!
PS- All substances are poisons. It's just a matter of dose. :)Mar 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm #1964819
Sorry to bump an old thread.. I've never been a heavy DEET user, but over the last few years I've started developing horrible skin reactions to the stuff. I have to search out the DEET free offerings if I want any skin coverage. Someone recommended I treat my clothes/tarp with Permethrin before a trip into the woods, but I was curious if anyone with a similar DEET tolerance (or lack thereof) could comment on Permethrin and skin sensitivity.
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