Happy (soon-to-come) Canada Day/Fourth of July/First week of summer!
Spring is officially done, and for many people that means that summer fun can begin in earnest. More active, outdoor lifestyles means more weekends at the local park, at the cottage, biking, hiking, and, of course, camping — all of which mean mosquitos.
In the buggy times for the upper USA and Southern Canada, it’s time for me to stay along the lakes, where it’s breezy and bug-free.
You can’t always choose when you’re needed in bug country or season, so you should have a good roster of deterrents, and their relative effectiveness.
Today, I look at the Mosquitno line of products, which include their flagship wristbands (“Bands“), and a secondary product called “Spotz“. Their website seems a little light, but this is a simple, straightforward family-run company, so most people’s questions would be answered in their FAQ, and, of course, reviews like this one!
(Skip down to the pros and cons!)
According to the manufacturer, Mosquitno Bands are a citronella-based insect repellent designed to be easy, fun (perhaps a stretch), and easily integrated with your outdoor activities.
From my experience with the demon-mosquitos in Canada’s interior boreal forest during the worst of blackfly season, I knew that any citronella-based product wouldn’t be appropriate — I swear I’ve seen some bugs just saunter up to 40% deet like it was hot sauce.
That’s fine, however, because the company doesn’t presume to market to the hard-core infested swamp hiker. Their placement shows a casual outdoor enthusiast that’s enjoying a day in the fresh air.
I decided to take them up on that image, and spend a couple of days in a cottage setting (tough work, I know?!). There was a bit of a swamp nearby, but it was small enough that there really was only a magic hour around sundown.
I distributed the Bands and Spotz from my review package, and a few friends and I sat around waiting for the night to fall. The Bands are simple, rubbery wristbands that stretch over your wrists. I thought they would be uncomfortably unnatural, or start to chafe with heat or activity, but they were very easily forgotten once on.
In time, the ‘skeeters came out, and proceeded to do their thing. I got bitten. And again. And again.
Is this product a bust, then? Not necessarily. See, I only got bitten on the side of my body that wasn’t wearing the band. Furthermore, I was mostly sitting down, not active at all. Mosquitos follow a trail of CO2 and heat after performing a rather random pattern search — when you’re walking through the woods, they’ll come across your backtrail of exhaled breath and heat, and switch to a targeted search, following you until they can dig in for their meal.
The Mosquino bands have a radius of effectiveness, as I could tell from my one untouched side. I expect that if I were moving my arms more, the cloud of effectiveness would grow, and if I were hiking, the deterring chemicals would mix with my backtrail and make me less appetizing.
The Spotz are small, round stickers, which were more effective when protecting the ‘trouble’ areas, such as at the neck or hair line. I put one on the brim of my hat on the back, and my neck and ears survived unscathed.
There was a slight smell of citronella when you bring your nose up to the product, but for the most part, it was forgettable. Still, it might be annoying for some sensitive snouts, and some pets might avoid you. This is, of course, true of all citronella products, but in this case, it’s on your person, so it’s a different consideration.
- Non-toxic. Where this really shines is as a solution for children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers, since there are multiple proven health hazards associated with prolonged DEET usage. You’ll have to take care with younger ones that want to eat everything (especially with the Spotz, which are stickers roughly the size of a quarter).
- These are safe around pets and food.
- Most citronella products need to be sprayed on, or take the form of candles. There’s no spray to apply that will end up on unwanted areas, or open flames that may be a hazard
- Versatile. Spotz, especially, were great to put on my hat for the back of my neck. I’m sure you could even use it to repair a hole in a bug screen.
- Clean and spill proof. No worried about it getting crushed in your luggage or pack or pocket, ruining other gear.
- Useful for up to three days for Spotz, and almost a week for Bands. This is a nice long time from a personal standpoint, but see my note below about sustainability.
- uses a mild repellant (citronella), so not appropriate as a replacement for when harsh chemicals like DEET are required.
- small radius of effectiveness when sitting idle, so multiple bands might be needed.
- slight odour, some may find distracting, or distasteful around food.
- not sure how comfortable I’d be with the smell in bear country. Other critters might be curious and come calling as well.
- sustainable reuse and the environment. I found myself wondering what to do with this once it’s done. Is it just destined to end up in a landfill, or can it be re-impregnated?
All in all…
Turns out it can be reused/recycled, and the company has made a good effort to encourage you to recycle by sending you two free new bands for every ten you send their way, but it’s still a disposable silicon rubber product, so you need to see how that fits your philosophy.
It’s still a heck of a lot better than most disposable products out there, and the company has their head in the right place for people that want to reuse.
The biggest high point for me is the lack of toxicity, especially if you’re needing something like this on a daily basis. The alternatives are usually very inconvenient, impractical, or extremely toxic, which makes this ideal for ongoing use around animals and children, and other sensitive areas like food preparation.
In the end, these seem like a useful product — you just need to make sure it’s the right one for you.
- Use it for light-duty, as intended. When you’re off exploring a local creek, or playing some frisbee in the park, or hanging at a BBQ.
- Make sure you’re not just sitting around in a big group. You’ll end up giving off a very skewed target vs. deterrent profile, and almost nothing works in those situations.
- Use Spotz for specific trouble areas, near exposed skin or often-bitten areas.
See the Mosquitno website for more details.
* Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Mosquitno Pack for free from the company as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication. This in no way influenced the contents or conclusions of this review.