How the Latest Technology Helps Keep the Bugs Away

3/19/18 by Emma Walker

There’s not much worse than gearing up for a backpacking trip or day at the beach, getting out there, and spending more time swatting at bugs than taking in the scenery. Luckily, gone are the days of tromping around in the woods reeking of DEET. Thanks to huge advances in insect repellent technology, there are some great alternatives to sticky bug spray and smelly lotions.

Here are a few tips for what to look for when you’re choosing gear to keep the bugs at bay.

You don’t even notice it

With Insect Shield® built right into your clothing, you can hit the trail without worrying about annoying insects, and since it’s odorless and invisible, you’ll never even know it’s there. You don’t need to do anything in order for it to work.

The active ingredient that makes Insect Shield® work is permethrin. It’s part of a family of chemicals, pyrethroids, that are man-made copies of natural extracts you’ll find in plants like the chrysanthemum. Permethrin has been used since the 1970s in a range of insect repellent products, like kid-safe lice shampoo, flea wash for dogs, and in mosquito nets.

It’s great safety record speaks for itself—mosquito nets with pyrethroid incorporated are the only kind approved for use by the CDC. (The World Health Organization also recommends these nets for use in areas affected by malaria.)

It actually works

Insect Shield® is built into your clothing so it won’t get on your skin or wash out. Photo courtesy of ExOfficio

Insect Shield® is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, meaning not that it works against biting insects without being harmful to humans or the environment. The EPA doesn’t take the registration lightly: products go through an intense, lengthy evaluation process to determine how effective they are.

In this case, several rigorous studies were undertaken to be sure that Insect Shield® was truly effective. In 2010, a study at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill found that people who wore Insect Shield® while working in wetlands found got 99 percent fewer tick bites than the control group, and the US army treats all its combat uniforms with permethrin insect protection.

It won’t come out in the wash

Insect Shield® is built into your clothing so it won’t get on your skin or wash out. Photo courtesy of ExOfficio

The beauty of bug protection that’s built into your clothing is that, unlike insect repellent you spray on your clothes, there’s no need to reapply. Insect Shield® keeps working through 70 washes, which is about as long as most garments are expected to last. It’s also longer-lasting than many other finishes you’ll find on clothes—such as stain resistance, moisture wicking, and UV protection—which usually only last about 20 to 30 washes.

There’s no need to dry clean these clothes (it’s actually not recommended). No special care required—just throw your Insect Shield® repellent clothing in the wash with the rest of your laundry.

It repels the right bugs

It’s always a good idea to wear pants when you’re hiking in an area where there are bugs (aka just about everywhere). Photo courtesy of ExOfficio

Not all insect bites are created equal. Sometimes, mosquito bites are just itchy and annoying, but depending on the region you’re traveling in, mosquitoes could be carrying malaria. Bug bites can also be downright dangerous. Biting insects can carry diseases like Zika virus, Lyme disease, Dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus, Leishmaniasis, and Yellow Fever, among others.

Fortunately, Insect Shield® is meant to protect wearers from the very bugs who carry those diseases, including mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges.

The entire family can wear it

Insect Shield® isn’t harmful to humans, either—even when it’s directly touching your skin, and even for young kids. In fact, there are no restrictions on its use, which means anyone in your family can wear it.

Insect Shield® is also hypoallergenic. It’s undergone tons of testing to ensure that clothing containing Insect Shield won’t irritate skin, and since it’s not a spray, there’s no risk of using too much or getting it in your eyes.

The more BugsAway® apparel with Insect Shield you wear, of course, the greater the protection. Consider long sleeves like the BugsAway Halo Stripe and pants like the BugsAway Sandfly instead of a t-shirt and shorts when you’re traveling in more heavily-infested areas.

You’ll also find Insect Shield in hats and socks, and for areas you can’t cover with clothing, traditional insect repellent is still a good option to work in tandem with your apparel. (Read up on more about how Insect Shield technology works here.)

Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated in partnership with ExOfficio.