Does It Work: Thermacell Mosquito Repellant

Does It Work: Thermacell Mosquito Repellant
Left to right: Boy Scouts Timothy Babers, Joseph Hazard, and Ethan McMillan.
Left to right: Boy Scouts Timothy Babers, Joseph Hazard, and Ethan McMillan.

(KFVS) - As the sweltering summer heat gives way to mild autumn days, many people will spend more time outdoors. However, mosquitoes will continue to be a problem.

The makers of the Thermacell Mosquito Repellant system claim their device will repel disease-carrying mosquitoes and other flying pests.

The product packaging states Thermacell creates a 15 x 15 foot mosquito-free zone without the use of stinky, greasy bug spray.

To put Thermacell to the test we enlisted the help of a group of young men who've been feeding mosquitoes for years.

"By the first day of summer camp I'll already have bites all over," 12-year-old Boy Scout Nick Stearns of Cape Girardeau's Troop 5 said.

12-year-old Boy Scout Kaden Mitchell agrees.

"I come home from camping and shower and then I realize I have mosquito bites all over my legs and arms."

As such, the older Scouts with upwards of 70 camp outs under their belt have become near experts in the science of repelling bugs.

"I've tried low DEET and high DEET, other brands like cutter and off. Cutter high-DEET works best," said Scout Noah Karkanen. "Bugs won't come anywhere near you when you have it on."

Thermacell claims its users can drop the DEET, and other greasy, messy repellant sprays and lotions.

A Thermacell product advertisement calls Thermacell "the world's most effective area mosquito repellant" and states the product will repel "virtually all mosquitoes, black flies and other flying insects."

The Boy Scouts agreed to bring Thermacell along on their most recent outdoor adventures.

The first two times the Scouts used Thermacell, troop leader Joe Wolsey said there was a bit of a breeze, and the boys had limited success.

"It sort of keeps out mosquitoes and other flying insects," said 15-year-old Boy Scout Timothy Babers.

Babers said while the product's advertisement claims Thermacell is "virtually odor free", the smell bugged him.

"It smells worse than me after marching band without deodorant," Babers said.

Heartland News cameras met up with the Scouts on their third and final Thermacell test.

"It takes 30 minutes to create the bubble," Babers said.

To 12-year-old Boy Scout Joseph Hazard, it appeared standing still that long was unfathomable.

"Why would I stay in one place and wait for it to turn on?" Hazard asked.

Once Thermacell was warmed up and producing a small amount of smoke, it seemed to be working – at least on mosquitoes.

"Mosquitoes are gone for me, but the gnats are the bad part," said Babers.

A glance toward the group of parents patiently waiting for the test to wrap up showed one Scout father, Brian McMillan, swatting repeatedly at gnats that were evidently orbiting his head.

When McMillan came to check on the boys' progress, he noted that there seemed to be fewer gnats annoying him the nearer he was to the Thermacell.

While the Thermacell did appear to thin out the bugs in our area, it ultimately left the boys itching for bug spray.

"I would stick with the DEET," Scout mom Jamie Hazard said. "These kids move around a lot so they wouldn't be good for stationary bug repellent."

Given the product's space limitations and smell the boys give Thermacell 2.5 stars on this Does it Work test.

We purchased the Thermacell used in our test at Wal-Mart for $19.99.

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