How to Keep Biting Insects at Bay
Recently, some friends and I spent a few days camping at Cottonwood Lake #2 in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s always nice to escape to the mountains, and the Cottonwood Lakes has long been one of my favorite places to explore.
Here’s the view from our campsite.
It was certainly a nice sight to wake up to every morning. But there’s one part of the trip that you can’t see in that photo.
From sunrise until well after sunset, if a strong breeze wasn’t blowing, we were relentlessly attacked by an army of the bloodsucking insects. These vile beasts turned a pleasant escape from civilization into an exercise in misery. Each night, as soon as we were done eating and cleaning up, we retreated to our tents to avoid being eaten alive.
Fortunately, I had a tube of Ultrathon Insect Repellent in my bag of backpacking essentials.
The whole crew smeared our exposed flesh with liberal amounts of this magic cream. The mosquitoes still buzzed around us in droves (and if you weren’t careful, you could easily inhale one or two). But they didn’t land on any exposed flesh, and they didn’t suck anyone’s blood.
The only downside to Ultrathon is your skin gets kind of sticky—especially after a day of arduous hiking—but that’s a small price to pay for keeping the blood inside your body.
The Ultrathon tube boasts an active time of “up to” 12 hours. That might be a bit bold, but we found a liberal application of Ultrathon would keep the mosquitoes off of us for upwards of eight hours.
Controversial Active Ingredient
The active ingredient of Ultrathon is DEET—the common name for diethyltoluamide—is a somewhat controversial chemical. It has been linked to health problems in some people and is really good at dissolving synthetic fabrics, possibly including those used in tents and sleeping bags. When I was a kid, I remember using “bug juice’ with a concentration of something like 75% DEET. But Ultrathon dials that back to a mere 34.34%—and that seems to be enough.
Say what you want about DEET, but when it comes to aggressive biting insects, the stuff just works. You can keep your citronella and other essential oil blends. You can toss your anti-mosquito frequency sonic devices right in the trash. None of those work—at least not as well nor as long as a dose of Ultrathon.