Experience From - Andy Williams , Matt Mahoney , Al Zeller , Chuck Zeugner , Bill Andrews , Scott Rafferty , Ray Zirblis , Mike Franusich ,
What repellent, if any, do you recommend?
I had heard rumors about the black flies in Vermont when I was getting to do their (and my) first 100 mile run. In my schedule of preparations I experimented with different types of insect repellant. Here in Florida we have : "no-see-ums", mosquitoes, sand fleas, dog flies, deer flies, and several other noxious insects that make life unpleasant.
What I found that works very well for me (and note -- different people have different body chemistry so you may want to do some experimenting yourself!) was a mixture of 50% "Skin So Soft" (Avon product), 45% water, and 5% straight DEET. You can obtain straight DEET from several camping outlets -- Campmor is one, and here in Pensacola I got some from Weatherford's, a local outdoor-adventure store.
For me, one application of this mixture will repel almost all biting insects for 3 to 5 hours -- depending on how much I am sweating. I can carry enough for a 40hr span in a single 1/4 oz eye drop bottle.
You might want to experiment with different mixtures before your run. One over-the-counter product that seems to work fairly well is the brand name CUTTER.
There is stuff that works for mosquitos, but as long as you are moving, they can't bother you anyway. Repellents are worthless against biting flies.
There isn't a mosquito around that can't keep up with you as you walk up a hill. By all means apply a good spray every few hours. There's no need to add to your problems by spending all night swatting bugs or continually forcing yourself to bend over to squash one on the back of your calf. If there is a good supply of ticks available, then be sure to spray your lower legs with a deet containing repellent.
I donate enough blood to the briars, rocks and roots that enrichment of the insect life is an unjustifiable burden.
If you use DEET based bug juice, you should stick with the lower concentration versions.
There are a few pyrethrin based sprays that are made to spray on clothing, shoes, etc. They may provide some relief.
Can anyone recommend a mosquito repellent that doesn't sting your eyes or numb your lips?
I ran the canyons on the Western States trail last weekend and used Cutter Insect Repellent. The mosquitos were so thick they actually blocked my vision. I had to put the insect repellent in my hair (which is very short) and all over my face. But, by the time I got half way down one of the canyons I was blinded by the insect repellent that rolled down into my eyes because of the sweat. I called REI and they told me that DEET, the active ingredient in all their insect repellents, is actually toxic to humans and shouldn't be used on your face.
I use Natrapel, which is Citronella-based and non-toxic. It smells nice, but I have not tried putting it in my eyes.
I find that an Avon Product 'Skin so soft' works pretty well against mosquitos and deer flies. A head net is a bit of a pain, but is useful for trail running for deer flies that particularly go for the back of the head.
Friends of mine mix equal parts Skin So Soft and their sun protection de jour with good results.
After the chat a couple of weeks back about wearing clothing for sun protection, long sleeve top, bottom, and hat help with this problem, too. For years I wore the same battered baseball cap dowsed in Old Woodsman's Bug Dope when I worked in the woods, but I've pretty much declared it a federal toxic waste site and retired it. I find Penny Royal oil moderately effective, and supposedly non-toxic, so I will sometimes sprits that on to a bandanna to wear around the neck, which is another area, along with the back of the head, where the deer flies seem to congregate.
And picking up the pace seems to help!
When I moved east from California I quickly discovered deer flies. Mosquitoes were bad enough, but deer flies like to zoom round and round your head in some kind of target acquisition pattern before landing and taking a big old bite that feels like a hard pinch. Sometimes a whole squadron will work together, waiting at the edge of the woods for you to come shuffling down the trail and then jump you in a swarm.
So I armed myself with the nastiest DEET loaded ultra strength goop I could find, and it kept me from getting bitten. It didn't stop the maddening swooping 'round and 'round, but they didn't bite when they landed. DEET was the stuff until a few years ago when I overloaded on it while crewing and pacing at Laurel Highlands. I got so got so sick from the DEET that I had to shut down. For several weeks after that just smelling the stuff made me ill. And all this after the runner I helped warned me about using DEET.
Last year I found this stuff called "Bite Blocker" by Consep. It's made from "natural" ingredients like rancid oils and ground up geraniums, and smells like it might have a bit of essence of armadillo road pizza in it, too, but it works like a champ. I mean this stuff stinks so bad that the deer flies come in for a single pass and decide to go elsewhere. I don't recommend it for a date, 'cause it probably repels all living creatures, but it's fantastic on the trail.
Besides the terrible smell, it can burn your eyes or sensitive skin. The label warns against rubbing it in your eyes, etc. Flushing with water works for me when I overdo it, but I'll take the burning to those @#*!! deer flies any day.
Bite Blocker is manufactured by Consep, Inc. in Bend, Oregon. Their website is http://www.consep.com
Might be worth a look-see to read about the down side of DEET before nuking yourself in the woods.