I got sent a supply of Ultrathon insect repellent ages and ages ago for review and since I received it I have not come across any significant numbers of insect nasties at all. I assumed, for a while, that merely carrying a bottle of the stuff in my rucksack pocket was deterring the little blighters from having a go at my delicate flesh. My recent trip to Wales , however, has proved this theory to be incorrect. they were, in fact, just waiting in ambush for the Right Kind of Weather.
It seems that The Right Kind of Weather has now happened, in particular for yer horsefly or cleg. There are fahsands and fahsands of these on the hills at the moment, as many of you will have already discovered, and they’re all hungry for blood. The problem with yer cleg is that you often don;t notice their presence until after they’ve taken a chunk out of your skin. They take such a big chunk, in fact, that blood is drawn and the resulting bite site can often swell up and require piriton or similar to make it go down again (vinegar seems to work by the way…)
So it was with very mixed feelings that whilst half way up my first Welsh hill, one such cleg took away a piece of my leg. Whilst on the one hand, I was being assaulted by roving nasties, on the other, I had armaments in my pack which ought to put an end to any more of this free lunching. So I used the pump spray. I used it on as much bare skin as I had going and, whilst I still encountered collisions with horseflies for the rest of the day, the only place I got another bite (another two bites, actually) was on an unprotected and untanned part of my gluteus maximus. A couple of the evil little swines had managed to invade my shorts.
The next day, on the Cwm Amarch skyline, I used both sun block and the Ultrathon aerosol spray. The results were similar to the previous day. I didn’t get bitten by another cleg, although there were many collisions with clegs who’d decided I was ripe for a nip. They don’t like it, y’see…
The evening on the campsite was a midgie heaven (heaven for midgies anyway) I used the aerosol again and whilst it didn’t prevent midgie expeditionary forces from circling quite closely, and, occasionally touching down on an ear or a forehead, it soon became apparent that no nibbling was being done.
Finally, on the last of the three walks, I used the lotion. Pretty much the same effects, really.
Yesterday’s paddle/swim/plodge down the North Tyne from Ashgill to Garrigill (you must try this some time!), where I was unprotected and wearing only shorts and hiking boots ( a lovely sight and one reason why there’s no pictures – pic is from a previous trip) resulted in multiple opportunistic clegs having a right good go at my bare skin. They only stopped for the five or ten minutes after a deep bit where my skin was cold. (This must say something about horsefly behaviour and whatever it is that attracts them to you)
So, it seems to work:
Some Ultrathon facts and info:
Ultrathon is manufactured by 3M and is available through Tesco’s or Co-op pharmacy or various on-line suppliers.
The “time release” technology used in Ultrathon means that the evaporation of Deet repellent is slowed down, which in turn means that lower concentrations of Deet can be used and that you don;t need to re-apply so often. Concentrations of the Deet in the Ultrathon products I was sent vary from 25% to 35% and the effect is claimed to last either up to 8 hours, or up to 12 hours, depending on the product.
The lotion has 34% Deet and lasts for up to 12 hours and costs £8.29
The pump spray gas 35% Deet and lasts for up to 12 hours for £8.49
The aerosol spray has 25% deet for up to 8 hours protection for around £8.29
You can use sun block in tandem although it may reduce the effectiveness of the sunblock.
The sprays may damage man-made fibres, nylon and plastics but can be used on natural textiles.
The repellent is splash and sweat resistant. (Note that blackfly, which don’t bite, but seem to be attracted to sweat, tears, blood, etc, are repelled but I found that after I suffered a small cut to my shin, I couldn’t use Ultrathon where there was an open wound and it was soon buzzing with blackflies having a good old lick. (eeeyooo!) The answer to this, of course, is elastoplast!
Did it work? Yes – though, probably not for a full 8 or 12 hours but I did get a full day’s walking out of an application. The evidence seems to be that unprotected bits of my superbly honed [koff] anatomy got chewed whereas places where I’d squirted didn’t. It didn’t prevent optimistic approaches by clegs or midgies, and these can be unnerving, even if they’re not biting. I didn’t see any ticks. I expect there were plenty of ticks, though…
I liked the lotion best – just because it’s the easiest to see exactly where it’s been spread.