Picaridin keeps the bugs away | SierraSun.com

Picaridin keeps the bugs away

Bruce Ajari

Mosquitoes are a nuisance and can carry some potentially harmful diseases, such as West Nile Virus. For outdoor enthusiasts, insect repellents made from various concentrations of DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) have been the standard for keeping pesky insects at bay.The effectiveness of the product in preventing insect bites is well documented. However, there have been some serious concerns about DEET. Most involve potential health risks. These include anything from skin irritations to even more serious concerns, such as a link to cancer.It has been pretty much the only effective game in town for many years. Those of us who have used the product have been bothered by it for several reasons: It feels oily on your skin. It has a tremendously strong odor and it can ruin the plastic coating on an expensive fly line.Out this year after being approved by the EPA is a new chemical to combat biting insects, called Picaridin (pronounced pick-CARE-a-den).Picaridin is new to the United States, but has been used in Europe and Australia for several years. It has the advantage over DEET because it is more pleasant to use. It has a light, clean feel and is virtually odorless and is equally, or more effective.Here’s the big one for you fly fishermen: The effect of Picaridin on various materials was tested and the results showed that it has no adverse effect on plastics, synthetics, plastic coatings and sealants. This means you do not have to worry about ruining any of these very pricey fly lines!The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised recommendations on insect repellents that provide effective protection against mosquitoes that may transmit Wes Nile virus. In addition to DEET-based repellents, the CDC is now recommending repellents that contain the active ingredient Picaridin.Right now Picaridin is exclusively available in the United States in CutterAdvanced Insect Repplent. The product was introduced earlier this year in all states except California and New York. Apparently, California state approval to sell Cutter Advanced with Picaridin was accelerated at the requests of state and federal officials. Approval in New York state is expected this summer.Consumer response to Cutter Advanced in the United States has been strong. It is difficult to find it in some areas of the country because stores are selling out of it.According to the CDC only 40 percent of Americans regularly use mosquito repellents – and only 23 percent use it on the West Coast, where West Nile cases are expected to peak this year.One other feature to consider is that besides being fragrance free, it does not need to be washed off when returning indoors. I know I can hardly wait to take a shower when using DEET.With its obvious advantages, this product should be worth a try for the outdoor enthusiast. The only drawback, the stuff costs quite a bit for a small amount, about $7 for a 6-ounce pump bottle or $2 per ounce. In spite of the cost, It seems to be worth the try.Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident.