Expert opinions on biting insects, repellents and insecticides
Want to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the never-ending struggle with the bugs of summer? Ask the Buggman. Having researched insects, repellents and bug killers for over 15 years, this Minnesota resident has most likely seen it all.
Known as "The Land of 10,000 Lakes", Minnesota is a recreational paradise. Add in the wetlands, swamps, rivers and streams, and you have an ideal breeding ground for a multitude of insects. The mosquito is recognized as the unofficial state bird and swarms of black flies are notorious in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Ticks, deer flies, stable flies and horse flies are also very abundant, especially bothersome and may carry disease.
"We have had the opportunity to do research on almost every repellent or active ingredient, device, and insecticide and then field test them on bugs of concern to humans," said Brian Weekley, a chemical engineer and founder of Bugg Products LLC. "There are plenty of gimmicks and folklore out there when it comes to what works and what does not. We are trying to help people save time, money and aggravation so they can figure out what is best for them."
The Buggman has worked a booth at the Minnesota State Fair for five years, the Northwest Sportshow for six years, five home & garden shows, and various fishing and hardware shows. "This experience has given us the ultimate market research opportunity in allowing us to talk with literally tens of thousands of consumers," said Weekley. "We also heard their concerns, experiences and suggestions. It has given us a wealth of knowledge."
A manufacturer of DEET-based Buggspray (brand) Insect Repellent since 1994, Weekley stays on top of the competition by testing their products and seeking the best solutions. He also remains in close contact with industry suppliers, pest control operators, trade journals, mosquito control programs, public health experts and government regulators. Through the website, www.buggspray.com, consumers from around the world contact him seeking answers to their bug problems. This experience is allowing Weekley to expand the business in the area of insecticides with a revolutionary bug killer for mosquitoes, flies, ants, box elder bugs and multi-colored Asian lady beetles. This product, Buggslayer, will be available later this year.
So give the Buggman a buzz. He will dispel the myths and add some real-life, hands-on, unbiased scientific perspective and practicality to your article, news story or radio program.
Bugg Products LLC is located in Long Lake, Minnesota. Their products are distributed to grocery stores nationwide through SuperValu and sold mainly in the Midwest at retailers such as Cub Foods, Shop 'n Save, Coborns/Cashwise, Byerly's & Lunds, Walgreens and Ace Hardware.
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Buggins® uses a natural herbal repellent found to be as effective as DEET
Over 60% of the population does not use an insect repellent containing DEET. This can be due to perceived toxicity concerns, the oily feel or smell, infrequent use or consumer's dislike of synthetic chemicals and 'pesticides'. While DEET continues to be the gold standard in the repellent industry, people are searching for effective, preferably natural, alternatives.
Entomologists at the University of Florida have been researching insect repellents for years. After testing thousands of compounds, geraniol has been shown to be an effective alternative to DEET. An FDA-GRAS ingredient, it is extracted from plants that have the natural ability to protect themselves. They note, "Geraniol-based repellents appear to be effective for a wider variety of blood feeding arthropods than low rate DEET products."
Most consumers will agree that bug spray has to smell bad to work*. With a human's large infrared signature, volatile vapors, rather than a scent mask, are needed to keep bugs away. "Even under severe conditions, our field tests on mosquitoes, gnats and stable flies show Buggins® provides better overall performance than picaridin, lemon eucalyptus or other essential oils," explained Brian Weekley, a chemical engineer at Bugg Products LLC. "My three year old son and I observed over 200 mosquitoes below the knee in northern Minnesota with no bites. It will work on those ankle-biter flies in the bottom of the boat too!"
In a different test with a light population of mosquitoes (<20), a 7% picaridin solution produced bites as soon as it dried. More field research on picaridin has shown poor performance with other human subjects on mosquitoes and very poor performance on biting flies. Using it at this low concentration, coupled with a relatively high vapor pressure [picaridin - 2.25 mm Hg (1347x), geraniol - 0.02 mm Hg (12x), DEET - 0.00167 mm Hg (1x)], leaves little product on the skin and makes this formula evaporate too quickly - roughly 1347 times faster than DEET.
Buggins® uses pure peppermint oil combined with geraniol and has a unique aroma consisting of refreshing mint, garden roses and creamy vanilla. These plant-based ingredients are mixed with water, not alcohol or oil. It is not sticky or greasy and does not need to be washed off. When there are only a few nuisance bugs and the power of DEET is not required, Buggins® provides relief from annoying insects like mosquitoes, no-see-ums, gnats, ticks and biting flies (stable, black, deer and sand flies). It's great for little kids (Ages 1+) as well as adults.
* While this has traditionally been the case, Buggspray Original with 25% DEET breaks that paradigm.
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Q How do you get rid of box elder bugs? I had a problem last fall but they went away, and now they are back. Did they lay eggs that hatched? These look like fully grown insects.
A No, they aren't new insects or hatchlings. The box elder bugs you're seeing now have been with you all winter.
Last fall, the black and orange beetles entered gaps, crevices and cavities in your home's walls and foundation to spend the winter.
Now, the warmer weather has prompted them to become active and seek the outdoors. But they get turned around and end up inside.
Box elder bugs are harmless, but they leave a stain and an unpleasant odor when crushed.
The best way to get rid of them is to simply pick up the bugs with a paper towel. You may need to use a vacuum cleaner for heavy infestations. (Try covering the open end of the vacuum hose with pantyhose to catch the insects and make disposal easier.)
To prevent a return engagement next year, keep the insects from entering in the fall. Seal as many holes, gaps and spaces as you can this summer. That includes around windows, doors, siding and where the foundation meets walls.
The beetles typically congregate on south- or west-facing walls, so you can also spray them with a solution of one-half cup of laundry detergent in a gallon of water. Use a hand sprayer or garden hose attachment. Although that only affects the bugs that are sprayed, it reduces the numbers that get into your house.
Asian lady beetles, too
You may also be seeing Asian lady beetles around your home now. They look like the common ladybug, but are bigger, bolder and have a noticeable bite. Like box elder bugs, they are simply coming out of dormancy. Control is the same, except that they apparently don't succumb to a detergent blast as do box elder beetles.