No Mo’ mosquitoes

In this edition of our monthly Gadget column, we examine insect repellant.

No mo’ mosquitoes

OFF Clip-On Mosquito Repellent

OFF, a long-trusted name in mosquito repellent, tells smelly, stick sprays to bug off with a portable, clip-on fan that fills the air with an odorless repellent. The small fan—which is surprisingly quiet—is easy to operate and features a rotating clip so you can attach it to your belt or backpack and an indicator window so you easily determine how much repellent is left. The fan comes with one refillable pack and retails for approximately $9—additional refills are sold in packs of two or four and come in around $2.50 per refill. Each refill will last 12 hours, but the website suggests throwing it out after two weeks once you open it. Unable to save open refills for extended periods, this set-up could become very costly, very quickly. Instructions suggest that the fan needs a few stationary minutes to provide head-to-toe protection so leave this on the backyard table when you go hiking. While it’s incredibly effective, the price and limitations—keep it one place, don’t place it around food or heat, and use it or lose it—make it a great idea with a flawed execution. $9.


With the swirling health concerns around DEET in insect repellents, it’s natural to look for something a little more, well, natural. BugBand’s insect-repelling wristbands rely on Geraniol, an alcohol found in rose oil, citronella oil and lemon oil, to repel bugs. The plastic band is easy to take on and off, which is great because after putting it on you’ll want to take it off. The smell—like Pine-Sol dumped into an overly hoppy beer and then poured into the rose bushes—is annoying and may even cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to perfume. Since there’s no delivery method for the oil, such as OFF’s fan or a citronella candle, the effectiveness of the bracelet is questionable. Wearing it, I survived bite-free, but I only left it on for 10 minutes before throwing it back in the plastic container meant to keep it fresh for 120 hours of use. If you can handle the smell, expect to see what the website calls, “Lite Duty Protection,” but count on a fragrant, bite-filled summer. $5.

OFF Botanicals Towelettes

OFF offers another natural option, this one using oil found in eucalyptus. These individually wrapped moist towelettes stink when you first open the package but after applying to your skin, they mellow into a barely-noticeable scent. Despite the size of the package, the towelette can cover quite a bit of surface area. This, along with the fact that they’ll remain effective over time, makes them perfect for a permanent spot in a beach bag or purse. On my arms, I was able to rub the moisture without leaving a sticky film, but my hands, in constant contact as I applied the towelettes, weren’t so lucky. Out of the three products, this all-natural choice wins for dollar value—$7 for eight towelettes—effectiveness, and portability. Sure, your hands suffer the same fate as spray-on bug repellents, but sometimes you have to get a little sticky to be effective. $7.