DEET vs. Insect Shield

Nothing says summer quite like the bloodsucking buzz of the mosquito. And it’s not just the mosquitos — the ticks, midges, no-see-ums, ants and other creepy crawlers are just as relentless. Luckily, we humans have developed various bug repellent tactics to combat Mother Nature’s most annoying pests: lighting citronella candles, burning sage, dousing ourselves in DEET, rubbing picardin lotion all over, and our favorite,  Insect Shield Technology woven right into our clothing. Before we get into why we love Insect Sheild protected clothing, let’s dive into the alternatives.

What is DEET?  

 DEET (or diethyltoluamide), is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It was actually developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to protect soldiers in insect-infested areas, and a few years later it hit consumer shelves.

DEET works by basically taking you off of a bug’s radar. Insects can sense people and animals by detecting the air that we breathe out. DEET masks the smell and thus makes it harder for insects to find you. Sounds harmless enough, but the issue with DEET lies in the chemistry.

The compounds that make up DEET are toxic when absorbed or ingested into the human body – it’s a pesticide, after all. And if you’re rubbing or spraying DEET onto your skin, the chances to absorb are high. Though it’s not been proven by the FDA to cause cancer, DEET has been linked to skin irritation, redness, rashes, and swelling. And DEET actually stays in the body for a long time. DEET absorbed through your skin can be found in the blood up to 12 hours after it is applied. Once it’s in your body, DEET travels through the liver where it’s broken down into smaller chemicals, and finally exits through the urine. Most DEET has left your body within 24-hours of application.Because DEET is so widely used, it has been found in wastewater — and in places where waste water becomes part of the environment.

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So let’s talk about the effects of DEET on the environment. First of all, DEET does not dissolve or mix with dater very well, so it needs. To be broken down by other chemical processes – even natural ones. When DEET gets into the soil it will stick to the soil unless it can be broken down by microbes, like bacteria and fungi. Like the human kidney, these microbes just break the chemicals down into smaller compounds without actually “removing” it. Like most pesticides, once it’s out in the world, it stays there. Think of it like plastic. The same thing happend when DEET is sprayed or evaporates: it will be in the air as a vapor and then begin to break down slowly in the atmosphere.

The producers of DEET have spent a lot of money trying to say that it’s not toxic, or that it’s safe for kids. But as parents and environmentalists ourselves, we don’t buy it. To be on the safe side, we avoid DEET sprays and DEET mosquito repellents and look for alternatives that do not absorb into the skin or the environment.

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What is Insect Shield Technology?

The DEET alternative that we like is Insect Shield Technology that utilizes permethrin (per-meth-er-in). Permethrin has been successfully used in the United States as an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered product since 1977, with an excellent safety record. It is used in lice shampoos for children, flea dips for dogs, and various other products, some of which are regulated by the FDA. The Insect Shield process binds a permethrin formula tightly to fabric fibers which result in effective, odorless, permethrin-treated clothingfor insect protection that lasts the expected lifetime of apparel.

And best of all, it does NOT absorb into the skin. Insect Shield Repellent Apparel puts insect repellency near your skin, instead of on it, and the protection is invisible. Also, the repellency is long lasting, so no re-application is needed.

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Permethrin treated Insect Shield® Repellent clothing has been proven and registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges (no-see-ums). Insect Shield® Repellent Gear has been proven and registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and flies. The EPA requires extensive effectiveness data to prove a product’s ability to repel insects. Many species and varieties of these insects have been tested, including those that can carry dangerous diseases.

Permethrin treated clothing is not toxic to dogs or cats, and is safe for kids and toddlers – though we recommend monitoring your kids closely when you use any new products. Insect Shield Technology has been deemed safe by the EPA and has actually been used in millions of uniforms for US Military as well as in millions of permethrin-treated bed nets that are distributed globally via malaria control programs. 

Check out more on Insect Shield Technologyand shop our Debug Collections for safe, permethrin clothing for men and women.

 

Why We Need Bugs

Fun fact: humans cannot survive without bugs. Yep, those things that creep into your sleeping bags and go splat on your windshield are vital to the health and survival of our ecosystem. The honey bee is a simple example of why bugs are critical to human life: They pollinate plants that produce crops. Without bees, there’s no pollination, without pollination there’s no crop… you get the idea. Bees are just one of thousands of insects that are pulling more than their tiny weight. That’s why we love bugs (from a distance). Here are some of the reasons why:

Bugs add an estimated $57 billion to the US economy.

According to the Cornell Chronicle, insects are a primary food source for fish, birds, and mammals, and they do a heck of a job at keeping things clean. The study found that “native insects are food for the wildlife supporting a $50 billion recreation industry and provide more than $4.5 billion worth in pest control. They also provide crop pollination valued at $3 billion and clean up grazing lands, saving ranchers some $380 million a year.” Well, that sure puts our yearly savings to shame!

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Bugs make great models.

When engineers need to create a spacesuit for Mars, or create a damage resistant car, they look to nature. In this TedTalk, Robert Full explains how examining cockroaches can inform how robots learn to stabilize on rough terrain, walk upside down, do gymnastic maneuvers in air, and run into walls without harming themselves. Way cool.

 

Bugs are highly civilized.

In a human world that can seem increasing more separatist, some insect societies are a shining example of teamwork. Take ants. Ants live in colonies that will grow and flourish for decades. In this TedTalk, Deborah Gordon explores how ants successfully collaborate, delegate, and even multitask – all without language, memory or visible leadership. Understanding these complex systems can help humans better understand our own complex systems from the human brain to high speed computer networks.

 

Bugs are delicious and nutritious.

In Mexico, you can buy a bag full of fried grasshoppers. In Japanese cuisine, bamboo caterpillars are a celebrated appetizer. And in Sardinia and Corsica, Casu Marzu is cheese that’s inhabited by live maggots, and (apparently) it’s divine. Listen to this TedTalk by Marcel Dicke on why insect delicacies are nutritional and eco-friendly additions to our daily diets. Mmmm.

 

Bugs are beautiful.

There’s inspiration all around, but sometimes it’s the little things that can be the most delightful – seeing the twilight dance of fireflies, watching a spider make its masterpiece, listening to the flight of the bumblebee… Bugs just bein’ bugs are some of Mother Nature’s finest works of art. Whether you capture the magic with your fancy human contraptions or just soak in the moment, pause for a moment to witness the beauty of bugs.

 

Bugs are buddies.

Like even our best friends, bugs can really be a pain in the neck sometimes. When ants invade your hammock or gnats keep you awake (and don’t even get us started on mosquitos), bugs can be a real buzz kill. Luckily, we’ve found a way to coexist: Our Toad&Co Debug styles featuring Insect Shield® Technology. Our Debug styles have a bug deterring fiber woven into the fabric, creating an odorless, non-lethal repellent that’s safe for humans and furry friends alike (and a billion times more pleasant than DEET or Citronella). Now we can appreciate bugs without being their lunch.

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Bugs Be Gone: Debug Clothes for Summer

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The great outdoors can come with some real buzz kills. And we’re not talking inclement weather – we mean bugs. Small bugs with big bites that can really put a damper on your day (and beyond). Like the recent Zika virus, devastating insect-borne diseases like Lyme disease and Malaria can spread virtually unseen by unsuspecting bugs. So we’ve taken some of our favorite travel styles and turned them into high-tech Debug clothing to help protect you all season long.

Our Debug styles are treated with Insect Shield® technology for effective, odorless protection against insects that can carry devastating viruses. Here’s why we like Insect Shield® technology:

  • It converts your clothing into long-lasting, effective and convenient insect protection
  • The technology is built right into the clothing and lasts the expected lifetime of the product
  • Effective, odorless insect protection lasts through 70 washings (and yes, you can wash it regularly!)
  • It repels mosquitos, ticks, chiggers and midges (no-see-ums)
  • It protects against insects including those that can carry Lyme disease, West Nile virus, malaria and other insect-borne diseases
  • Insect Shield® technology is EPA registered, which means it’s been evaluated to ensure it will not have adverse effects on people or the environment

Check out our Men’s Debug Styles and Women’s Debug Styles to get ready for all your summer adventures – sans the bugs!

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Our Women’s Debug UPF Stretch Shirt and Men’s Debug UPF Stretch Shirt also feature UPF sun protection!