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Which Bug Repellent Is Best?

In DEET, Lyme Disease, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on September 2, 2012 at 11:05 am

Bucks - Making the Most of Your Money

August 30, 2012, 4:17 PM

If your family is like ours, you’ll be spending time outdoors this Labor Day weekend.

And if you’re a mother like me (read: a worrier), you’re well aware of news reports

about the abundance of ticks this year,

and about an increase in cases of West Nile virus in some parts of the country.

That means we’ll be spraying ourselves and our children with bug repellent, to ward off both ticks

and the pesky mosquitoes that carry West Nile.

(Generally we avoid slathering our offspring with chemicals.

But we make an exception in this case,

if they’re going to be out in nature for extended periods of time). But which repellent is best?

Consumer Reports has updated a test of widely available repellents that work on both deer ticks and mosquitoes that carry West Nile,

along with cost information on a per-ounce basis. The six top-rated products are $2 an ounce or less.

The data on costs is from 2010, according to Consumer Reports, but all the products are currently available.

(And a quick check online suggests prices are about the same, or in some cases, lower.)

Just how much chemical you are comfortable exposing yourself

and your children to is up to you. The four top-ranked brands

— Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II, Cutter Backwoods Unscented, Off Family Care Smooth & Dry,

and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent — all contain DEET in varying concentrations from 15 percent to 30 percent,

and were able to repel mosquitoes for at least eight hours.

DEET is effective, and the Environmental Protection Agency says it is safe when used as directed,

but you shouldn’t use it on babies under 2 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises

against using products with more than 30 percent DEET on children.

The fifth- and sixth-ranked products — Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus and Natrapel 8-hour with Picaridin —

don’t contain DEET, but provided long-lasting protection as well.

The lower-ranked products also repelled mosquitoes effectively, but generally for shorter periods of time,

and some had other drawbacks, like a tendency to stain clothing.

The upshot, Consumer Report says, is that “most of the tested products will do the job if you’re

going to be outside for only a couple of hours, but look for a highly rated product to protect you on longer excursions.”

The E.P.A. has information on its Web site to help you choose a repellentbased on your specific needs,

although it doesn’t include cost data. General information about West Nile is available

from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are you stepping up your use of bug repellent due to West Nile?


First Westchester County, NY West Nile Mosquitoes of 2012

In Lyme Disease, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on July 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Updated: July 20, 2012 8:35 PM

An undated file photo of a mosquito, a

Photo credit: Getty Images | An undated file photo of a mosquito, a carrier for the potentially lethal virus West Nile.

Lab tests have confirmed the first mosquitoes contaminated withWest Nile virus in Westchester County this summer, county health officials said Friday.

The “batch” of mosquitoes — found in Mamaroneck — was sent to a state Department of Health laboratory for testing.

“We expect to find mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus at about this time, so we hope confirmation of their presence reminds residents to take precautions” including using mosquito repellent and wearing protective clothing, Sherlita Amler, Westchester County’s health commissioner, said in a statement.

The midsummer find mirrors results last year, when health officials confirmed the first infected mosquitoes in early August. Overall, 32 batches of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus last year in Westchester County.

Across the river, health authorities in Rockland County found contaminated mosquitoes in late June, at least a month earlier than has been typical. The infected mosquitoes were found in Haverstraw and Ramapo, according to the Rockland County Health Department.

The lab tests prompted a response from County Legis. Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, who blamed County Executive Rob Astorino for trimming the health department’s budget. Because of budget cuts,Jenkins claimed, in 2011 Westchester County applied larvacide to 20,000 fewer catch basins than it did in 2010.

“In matters like public health and safety, I think we have to always move forward with an abundance of caution and vigilance,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Last year, the number of inspections and larvicide applications were reduced sharply from the previous year because of funding cuts by theAstorino Administration, and this short-sighted approach could lead to deadly consequences.”

West Nile virus was first identified in New York in 1999, and since then the virus has spread across the continental U.S. Although most people don’t realize they’ve been exposed, the virus can have serious consequences for the very young or old and people with existing health conditions or compromised immune systems.

West Nile fever, the less-severe form, can lead to symptoms similar to the common cold or flu, including headache, nausea, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, according the Centers for Disease Control.

More serious infections can have debilitating symptoms, such as confusion and loss of consciousness, tremors, muscle weakness and vision loss.

Stagnant water is the best breeding ground for the virus, and Amler urged people to “remove standing water from gutters and play equipment, empty buckets and other containers around your property, and turn over children’s pools after their use.”

The health department offered a list of tips and recommendations:

Avoid the outdoors in the early evening when mosquitoes are active and feeding. Use insect repellents when outdoors during these times, following the repellent directions. Adults can apply insect repellents with up to 30 percent DEET onto their own hands and then rub the repellent onto their children. Products containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under two months old.

Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are feeding.

Check around property for cans, containers and ceramic pots and discard or turn them over.

Check and remove standing water from children’s toys, pools, wheelbarrows and play houses.

Remove discarded tires.

Drill holes in the bottoms of all recycling containers that are left outdoors.

Change the water in birdbaths at least twice weekly.

Sweep driveways after it rains to clear puddles.

Keep storm drains and gutters clear of leaves and debris.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor spas and hot tubs and drain water that collects on their covers.

Residents who notice large areas of standing water on public property that could serve as potential mosquito breeding grounds should report it to the Westchester County Department of Health by calling 914-813-5000 or emailing the Health Department at

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease

In Lyme Disease on June 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm

JUNE 18, 2012, 3:00 PM

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease


Deer ticks are aptly named, in a sense; a Northeastern deer can carry over 1,000 of these ticks on its body. But as far as humans are concerned, the ticks might be more relevantly called mouse ticks. That’s because white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is spreading in the Northeast and the Midwest, and according to the national Centers for Disease Control, the number of annual cases over the past decade has been increasing. However, no one is quite sure why. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers tried to figure out what is driving the proliferation of Lyme disease in human populations by studying populations patterns in animals that interact with ticks. Their study suggests that large predators like coyotes and foxes that aren’t typically associated with Lyme disease transmission may have a big impact on the spread of the disease.

The life cycle of deer ticks depends on interactions in the entire ecosystem in which the ticks dwell, said Taal Levi, the study’s lead author, who did the research while a doctoral student at the University of California Santa Cruz and is now an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York.

Ticks rely on “bloodmeals” from other animals to move through their three life stages: larva, nymph, and adult, Dr. Levi said. When the ticks hatch into larvae, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is not present.

For a tick larva to grow into a nymph, its next life stage, it needs blood. If the larva gets its blood meal from a mouse already carrying B. burgdorferi, the larva picks up the bacteria and becomes a carrier itself. It grows into a nymph and waits for its next host so it can get the blood meal necessary to grow into an adult tick. “Sometimes one of those nymphs doesn’t bite a small mammal but bites a person, and that’s where we get the disease,” Dr. Levi said.

While people used to blame deer for the spread of Lyme disease, Dr. Levi said that scientific evidence has indicated that deer probably aren’t significant transmitters of B. burgdorferi bacteria because their systems tend to quickly flush it out. But “some hosts, like white-footed mice, don’t clear it at all,” he said, which means the bacteria hang around long enough to be transmitted to ticks.

Dr. Levi hypothesized that because these small animals are prey, their abundance – and the spread of the Lyme disease bacteria within them – depends on the abundance of their predators. In the study, he and his colleagues did a computer analysis of known cases of Lyme disease and population data for red foxes — a key predator of rodents — in four states with a high prevalence of the disease: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Virginia. For good measure, they also compared deer populations with the tally of Lyme disease cases in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York.

The models showed higher numbers of Lyme disease cases in places where there are fewer foxes. They detected no significant relationship between numbers of deer and numbers of Lyme disease cases.

The researchers also ran computer programs comparing Lyme disease cases with coyote populations in the states where they modeled red fox populations. As coyotes have spread through the Midwest and Northeast, they have tended to displace foxes, Dr. Levi said.

But coyotes don’t generally pack themselves as tightly into an area as foxes, meaning that there tend to be fewer coyotes in an area than there were foxes. “If you replace fox habitat with coyote-occupied habitat, you lose a large number of predators, and those predators you’ve lost consumed a high number of mammals,” Dr. Levi said. So the models showed a significant relationship between high numbers of coyotes and high numbers of Lyme disease cases.

So: more coyotes equals fewer foxes, which means fewer predators, which means more small animals are running around that could be carrying the bacteria for Lyme disease. More bacteria is therefore transmitted to more ticks, which then transmit the bacteria to humans. It’s complicated.

In fact, it’s so complicated that Maria Diuk-Wasser, an epidemiologist at the Yale School for Public Health who was not involved in the study, said she was skeptical about the connections drawn between top predators and Lyme disease cases in the study.

Modeling patterns can show relationships between data, but not necessarily the causes of the relationships, she pointed out. For example, to say that there’s a correlation between the number of coyotes in an area and the number of cases of Lyme disease reported there is different than saying that a high number of coyotes in an area causes more cases of Lyme disease in humans.

“What they say is plausible,” Dr. Diuk-Wasser said. But she said she wanted to see more experimental studies performed out in the field to support the models. The models in the study use historical population data recorded by hunters and state wildlife management services rather than data collected specifically for the study.

Dr. Diuk-Wasser said that birds are also major carriers of Lyme disease bacteria and might be even more significant carriers than rodents because of the distances they can easily travel.

Given the health implications, “understanding the ecological mechanisms that drive Lyme disease in nature is very important,” she said.

Tracz to Speak in Thailand to the International Conference on Biopesticides

In Dengue Fever, Malaria, Uncategorized on August 12, 2011 at 1:30 pm

A Novel Biopesticide Spatial Repellent for Malaria Avoidance


Dennis Tracz



A Novel Biopesticide Spatial Repellent for Malaria Avoidance

Tracz, Dennis

141 Repellent, Inc. Lexington, Virginia 

Mosquitoes are becoming resistant to current insecticides used in treating bed nets and for Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) of interior surfaces. Because of a toxic mode of action current generations of mosquitoes in some areas are not killed or repelled by pyrethroids or even DDT. We are developing formulations and materials for introducing a recently discovered natural, biopesticide arthropod spatial repellent with a deterrent mode of action that prevents mosquitoes from feeding.

Isolongifolenone and it’s analogs as discovered by Dr. Aijun Zhang of the USDA, ARS and colleagues acts effectively in in vitro testing in preventing feeding by malaria vectors. Additional testing by Nicole Achee and colleagues from Uniformed Services University demonstrated spatial repellency effects from the compound. DDT has demonstrated effective spatial repellency over the years even where mosquitoes have developed resistance to its toxic mode of action. The mosquitoes in many cases will not enter a dwelling where DDT has been sprayed on the walls. Initial lab testing in conjunction with ICR Labs and International Flavors and Fragrances patented PolyIFF have demonstrated that infusing an isolongifolenone analog into a molded plastic form in thin film or thicker formats results in a long lasting and effective spatial repellent. Indications are that the spatial repellent effect can be engineered to be effective for up to 3 years.

We are now starting investigation of adding our spatial repellent to clothing in conjunction with Insect Shield, LLC, the leading manufacturer of insect repellent clothing. We believe a non-toxic spatial repellent can improve lives and save money.

Aggressive and Hard to Kill: Two Asian Mosquito Cityslickers Swarm the East Coast

In Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on July 20, 2011 at 9:06 am

Wall Street Journal

JULY 20, 2011

Attack of the Urban Mosquitoes

Aggressive and Hard to Kill: Two Asian Cityslickers Swarm the East Coast

The latest scourge crossing the country has a taste for the big city.

The Asian tiger mosquito, named for its distinctive black-and-white striped body, is a relatively new species to the U.S. that is more vicious, harder to kill and, unlike most native mosquitoes, bites during the daytime. It also prefers large cities over rural or marshy areas—thus earning the nickname among entomologists as “the urban mosquito.”

“Part of the reason it is called ‘tiger’ is also because it is very aggressive,” says Dina Fonseca, an associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University. “You can try and swat it all you want, but once it’s on you, it doesn’t let go. Even if it goes away, it will be back for a bite.”

Swat Team: What Works

Insect repellents

  • Look for brands containing DEET, such as Off! Deep Woods, and products containing Picaridin, such as Cutter Skinsations.
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a repellent that uses natural materials.


  • For the Asian tiger, use a mosquito trap that emits carbon dioxide (Dragonfly II shown at left.) Add what’s called a lure that contains lactic acid to attract daytime mosquitoes. Lures with octenol attract other mosquito species.
  • Sources: Dr. Bruce Robinson; Ron Crittenden, owner of; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


  • Here are some ways to ease the pain of mosquito bites, according to Bruce Robinson, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
  • In general, treating with heat or cold can offer relief by confusing the brain, he says. It’s like when you hit your knee and then rub it to make it hurt less. “Even though it doesn’t actually hurt less, the sensation of touch reaches your brain earlier than the pain, and you feel that it helps with the hurt,” he says.


  • Ice. An ice pack decreases inflammation and reduces itching.
  • Anti-itch lotions. Creams containing 1% hydrocortisone reduce inflammation. Products that contain camphor and menthol, such as Sarna, also help. To boost the effect, store the lotions in the refrigerator. (Note: Calamine lotion dries out the affected area and therefore is not recommended.)
  • Benadryl. It stops the release of histamine, which triggers inflammation.
  • Therapik. This device, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, delivers heat to the affected area to reduce itching and inflammation.
  • Toothpaste. It helps, but only if it contains menthol.


  • Paste of baking soda and water
  • Apple-cider vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Deodorant
  • Bleach
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Fabric-softener dryer sheets

Sources: Dr. Bruce Robinson; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Fonseca is leading a U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to develop a cost-effective method to control the Asian tiger mosquito(Aedes albopictus) population. The university is currently focusing on using larvacides, which render larvae incapable of growing into adults.

Since urban areas tend to be warmer—often by 5 to 10 degrees—than rural areas, cities are seeing tiger mosquitoes earlier and sticking around longer, often into October.

“The Asian tiger mosquito arrived this year in June—three months earlier than last year,” says Wayne Andrews, superintendent of the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project in Taunton, Mass.

The species has been traced to 1985, when a ship arrived in Texas loaded with used truck tires, perhaps from Japan, which is a major used-tire exporter, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The eggs hatched when they were exposed to water. Since then, the species has made its way from Texas to Florida and up the East Coast, says Gary G. Clark, a research leader with the Agriculture Department. “Now, more than half of the states have this aggressive species,” he says.

Another species imported from Asia is the rock pool mosquito (Aedes japonicus), which also came to the U.S. through the tire trade, experts say. This species is blackish-brown, with white scales on the lower part of its thorax and legs. It was first detected on Long Island, N.Y., and in areas of New Jersey in 1997, according to Dr. Fonseca. “Even though it is not as vicious a biter as the Asian tiger mosquito, it is a big pest,” she says.

These urban mosquitoes are what entomologists call “container mosquitoes.” Instead of marshes and natural bodies of water, both Asian tiger and rock pool mosquitoes can breed in small, artificial containers, such as tires, toys, cans and concrete structures. “A rule of thumb for container mosquitoes is: Water plus seven days equals mosquitoes,” Dr. Fonseca says.

Weather patterns can help Asian tigers readily spread beyond the Northeast. “As a result of climate change, the summer lasts longer and arrives earlier,” says Andrew Comrie, a climatologist at the University of Arizona. Eggs of Asian tiger and rock pool mosquitoes are also able to “overwinter,” meaning they can survive a cold, dry climate—all they need is exposure to water in warmer temperatures.

The Asian tiger was responsible for transmitting more than 200 cases of dengue fever, a sometimes-fatal viral infection, in Hawaii in 2001-02. A similar (but less lethal) virus called chikungunya was transmitted in France and Italy, but no cases have been cited in the U.S. from the Asian tiger. Likewise, the rock pool mosquito is capable of transmitting the West Nile virus, but no cases have been traced to the species in the U.S., Dr. Fonseca says.

That does little to take the sting out of their bites. Irritation and itching are the body’s allergic reaction to the protein secreted from the female mosquito when it bites.

Cities that spray for mosquitoes may find these latest breeds tough to tackle. “The usual methods of spraying cannot control the population of these species because their preferred breeding areas are difficult to reach,” says Mr. Andrews, the Massachusetts mosquito-control agent.

Moreover, the optimum conditions for spraying are early evening, after these mosquitoes retire. Also, Dr. Fonseca, the Rutgers entomologist, explains that spraying kills only the adult mosquitoes and not the eggs or larvae.

To reduce the chances of getting bitten, remove containers that have standing water in them. The best personal protection comes from products that contain DEET. The chemical has been controversial, but “as long as you don’t bathe in DEET or inhale too much of it, you should be fine,” says Bruce Robinson, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Since the tiger is a low-flying mosquito, keep ankles and legs covered. Also, the Asian tiger is a very visual mosquito, Dr. Fonseca says. “If you wear dark-colored clothes, you will be inviting it to bite you.

Maui Dengue Fever Risk High

In Dengue Fever on May 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm

May 4th, 2011  

By Wendy Osher

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa authorized the purchase of nearly $3,000 worth of mosquito repellent as a caution against the spread of dengue fever.

The purchase from Maui Distributors was made last week and will be handed over to the Maui District Health Office for use in East Maui upon arrival.

“We’ve faced dengue once before and managed to keep it under control,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “Now we have a chance to stop it before it even starts,” said the Mayor.

“This repellent will be crucial in containing dengue fever,” said Maui District Health Officer, Dr. Lorrin Pang.  “Since the dengue virus must pass through a human being, we can break the cycle by preventing people from getting bitten by infected mosquitoes or keeping mosquitoes from biting infected people.

“The repellent will protect both infected human beings and mosquitoes from each other,” said Pang.

Dr. Lorrin Pang, file photo by Wendy Osher.

The Maui District Health office plans to distribute the repellent to tourists and residents in East Maui – particularly in Upper Nihiku and Hana where the mosquito population is greatest.  Health officials said they needed about $1,000 worth of repellent for a month.  The new supply should be enough to meet the needs of the visiting summer crowds.

The county’s donation comes of the heels of a similar donation made by the Maui Visitor’s Bureau and the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH) last month.  The initial $1,000 supply was passed out at key locations along the Hana Highway.

The VASH program is a visitors’ assistance program that is funded by Hawai’i Tourism Authority and administered through Maui Visitors Bureau.

County officials say they hope other organizations will also donate money for repellent. The Maui Hotel and Lodging Association has already committed at least $500 for future purchases.

*** Supporting information courtesy County of Maui.

“Takes 10 yrs & approx $30 million to bring to market a new repellent”

In DEET, Dengue Fever, Malaria, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on February 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm
UC Davis water tower

Image via Wikipedia

News Briefs from University of California Davis

Monday, February 21, 2011

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, will present these findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 17-21, 2011

Presentation: Olfactory Molecular Targets for Reverse Chemical Ecology
Presenter: Walter Leal, UC Davis Department of Entomology
Date and time: Monday, Feb. 21, 9:45 a.m.
Location: 145B Washington Convention Center
Symposium: Chemically Speaking: How Organisms Talk to Each Other

With current technologies, it takes about 10 years and approximately $30 million to bring to market a new repellent for mosquitoes, which transmit devastating diseases such as malaria, dengue and West Nile virus. Hoping to decrease the time and money needed to develop new mosquito repellents, the Walter Leal lab has looked beyond the rich genome of the mosquito to the fruit fly genome. An abundance of information is already available about fruit fly olfactory receptor neurons, which play an important role in the sense of smell and are key to developing insect repellents. The research by Leal and colleagues has yielded a wealth of information about fruit fly receptivity to a variety of repellents, including DEET, and has led to new techniques that should prove valuable in screening candidate mosquito repellent compounds in the early stages of research and development.

Contact: Walter Leal, Entomology,–anb021411.php


Ideal Insect repellent

In Bed Bugs, DEET, Dengue Fever, Lyme Disease, Malaria, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on December 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

The best repellent will repel multiple insects’ bloodsuckers, effective for six to eight hours, no skin irritation or mucous membranes, no systematic toxicity, resistant to wash off, greaseless and odorless, and cosmetically appealing.

This is our goal with 141 Repellent!

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