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Field Tested: Thermacell Radius and Scout Mosquito Repellent

Whether or not you’d use the word sweet to describe me is still in question, but there is no arguing that there is something about my blood that is more enticing to insects like mosquitoes. It seems like I come home from camping with a dozen bites for every one or two that my friends have.

My story is about the time I went to the doctor after getting so many bug bites I had flu-like symptoms. I wasn’t sure if it was Lyme disease or just an allergic reaction. In situations like these, I usually turn to WebMD only to find out that if I am not already dead, I will be shortly.

After that experience, I went ahead and outfitted myself with bug-repellent clothes impregnated with permethrin. While these work reasonably well, there are a few drawbacks. Namely, sometimes the clothes are in the wash, and it is hard to share your shirt with your fellow bug-magnet friends.

When I found Thermacell’s line of products, I was a bit skeptical on how effective they would be. But after looking into it I found that they use metofluthrin which is a pyrethroid chemical like permethrin. Permethrin is better for fabric uses and metofluthrin is for air-based uses, but they have the same general effect. To activate metofluthrin, a device just needs to provide a small amount of heat for as long as the effect is desired.

The Thermacell Radius ($50) is battery powered and recharges via USB. It comes with a 12-hour cartridge of metofluthrin, but you can replace it with a 40-hour one if your situation warrants that kind of mosquito onslaught. I had the chance to take the Radius out on several of the summer’s buggiest trips and was nothing short of impressed. It is dead quiet and has absolutely no smell. The mosquito-free zone was about a 6- or 8-foot bubble and just outside of that you could see the bugs lying in wait. This device is also air-travel friendly, unlike the ones that contain flammable gas.

Thermacell also makes a few different versions to meet other needs and cover larger areas. Their Scout ($40) is an LED lantern that uses a small fuel cartridge for heat and a replaceable mat that contains the metofluthrin. I guess if I were an insect it would be hard to decide if that lamp was worth it. (Post your best moth memes below).


Please note:
I have weighed the potential side effects of pyrethroid chemicals against the known side effects of my reaction to bug bites and made the best decision for myself. I would encourage users to do their own research. Please take care not to expose waterways to pyrethroid chemicals as it can be harmful to aquatic life.

In its most basic form, the second law of thermodynamics states that the universe tends to go from order to disorder without any energy added to the system. Sarah’s primary function is to be that added energy, preventing the world around her from going into disorder. Her main tool to accomplish this job is her trusted spreadsheets, and the people around her know that if you ask her a question, she probably has a spreadsheet put together with the answer. So, you can call her the spreadsheet queen, or the destroyer of chaos, just so long as you don’t *actually* call her without putting it on the calendar first.