The sun poked through the clouds yesterday, and I took all my Wranglers out to the picnic table and spread them end to end. Starting at the cuffs I soaked each pair with Permethrin from an aerosol can manufactured by Sawyer Products.

After about an hour, I flipped them over and soaked the back side of each pair.

When they dried, I used a red permanent marking pen to mark the pant pockets. I used a black marker last year. Now they are ready to kill ticks and other insects for up to six washings before I will have to spray them again.

Permethrin is derived from African mums and it kills or repels ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers. If you’ve ever got into a nest of chiggers, you’ll wish you had sprayed your clothes with permethrin.

Deer ticks carry Lyme disease, but now and then, a wood or dog tick can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The Lonestar tick, mostly found further south, has been seen in Pennsylvania. It can also carry diseases.

Ticks lie in wait by climbing a stalk of grass or bush and cling, until an unsuspecting warm-blooded critter brushes the bush or grass stalk. The tick climbs on and burrows down into skin, where it takes a bite and engorges on blood, transferring whatever disease it got from previous victims.

They say it takes about 24 hours for a tick to bite and transfer disease, such as Lyme Disease, and, by then, maybe a victim can feel the tick crawling around. Why wait, when permethrin sprays can kill them as soon as they cling to the fabric?

Mosquitoes carry Encephalitis, which has been blamed for killing ruffed grouse and other birds. But encephalitis can kill horses, too. The sprayed clothing can repel or kill mosquitoes. The best preventative measure is to spray some ball caps and shirts with permethrin. I think it can also repel black flies, especially when fishing from the witching hour to dark. It’s the only time when a lit cigar is the best repellent.

Permethrin can work as well on tents, sleeping bags, fabric camp chairs and life jackets.

Another Sawyer product I carry is their suction snake bite kit. I don’t think I’d wait to use it on a snake bite unless I’m a long way from a hospital. They call it an extractor, and it works for first aid treatment of bee and wasp stings. The kit comes with several clear cups. Just black it over the sting and push the plunger. I’ve watched it suck a stinger from a bumble bee and all the venom with one plunge.

It’s worth carrying along on outdoor outings, especially if someone has allergies and needs Benadryl or a quick trip to a doctor’s office.

Another product I found to be just as effective as DEET, but safe to use for children and definitely best because it doesn’t dissolve $75 fly lines is Picaridin by Sawyer Products, and it’s a body spray that repels mosquitoes, biting flies, no-see-ums and gnats, and lasts 12 hours.

(1) comment


What a great article! Very informative! I just discovered something called Bug Bite Thing - it's similar to a Sawyer Extractor except you can control how much suction is used. I don't think it's meant for snake bites though, but removes bug saliva and venom from under the surface of the skin. I use it on my kids all the time - works great!

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