Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Essential Garden Tool

This is not a product endorsement (this is a totally commercial-free blog).  This is a review.  In the summer during mosquito season, which seems to last from April to October (the entire summer, plus some spring and fall) the only way I can get out in the garden is by wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, tall socks, a hat, gloves and a bucket of mosquito repellent.  Being that I am an organic gardener, I do not endorse the use of DEET (one exception: in tick infested areas I might spray it on my hiking boots only).  But do these these natural repellents actually work?  Yes.  Do they last a good while?  Yes.  Here is my review of 4 of them.

Starting from far right:
Repel:  This is my go-to spray.  It is easily available at large chain stores (though read the label, they do have a version with DEET).  It sprays on in a fine mist, I can spray it on my clothes (though these are grimy garden clothes, folks, not nice clothes!) and it works for hours and hours.  I might see mosquitoes approach and swarm, but they do not land.  The drawback is that the smell is a strong, piney, citrus, and eucalyptus smell.  I don't care, I shower after I garden anyway.  One problem is that the spray pumps sometimes break, so I transfer the contents to another spray bottle.  To apply any of these sprays to your face, you need to put them on your hands first, not directly spray them on your face.  About $5 to $6 for 4 ounces. I buy 3-4 per season.

Cutter Natural: this also works, the smell is nicer, floral, the lotion creamier, and less oily, than Repel.  However, this is the main drawback, it is thicker and streams (not sprays) out of the pump bottle, so I cannot apply it easily to clothes (and it does stain) and have to rub it on like sunscreen.  Easily available at large box stores. 

Bert's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent: this is a more pleasantly-scented, though very oily, spray.  Pictured above is an old container and the pumps on these were ineffective.  I have not tried the one in newer packaging, hope the pump is better.  Harder to find at stores.

Skeeter Buster: the most pleasantly scented, like gardenia, as well as the most expensive and hard to find.  Due to the high cost (I paid $7.99 for 4 ounces) I would not search for it, but I would use it if I were going to a place or event where a strong, sharp smell would be a problem.  The pump works OK.  (I bought it at a beach shop in Nag's Head, NC.)

I have not tried the grandmother of non-DEET sprays, Avon's (though I think it was sold to another company) Skin-So-Soft, but I hear people rave about it.

Happy bite-free gardening!

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