The headline above was the actual headline from an article published in the Globe and Mail on Monday, August 6, 2018. In it, writer Wency Leung reports on the results from a New Mexico State University study. But, first, a quick story.
Vas almost dies
The article above came out a few days after I almost died in the field while stump grinding. I was removing two tree stumps close to Kanaka Creek in Maple Ridge, British Columbia and I couldn’t believe the number of mosquitoes around me. I kept working but after a while, totally desperate, I called my boss to bring me repellent. Any repellent. I didn’t care. I was suffering.
Because I was alone with a rented stump grinder, I couldn’t really leave my work site. My boss eventually rescued me.
The study looked at all sorts of products from scented candles, skin patches, wearable devices to sprays containing essential oils. The result? Most of the products were useless except for the ones containing DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
One of the study authors explains that “mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale, and to the molecules that are created when our skin bacteria break down components of our sweat.” When you stump grind for a few hours you generate a lot of sweat. That’s the way we like our employees to work.
“The insects have odour receptors and they’re specialized in what they can smell.” The magic of DEET is that it “binds to specific odour receptors of mosquitoes and over-activates them; and over-activation is as bad as blocking them completely.”
This is the key: “Without smell the insects can’t switch from host-seeking to biting mode.” Aha.
According to the article, DEET has been used for over 70 years and is considered very safe.
Save your money and stay safe in the landscape by purchasing repellents containing DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Next time I’m sent to work by Kanaka Creek I will be ready.