Summertime observing pests

a mosquito on a bottle of repellent

Image via Wikipedia VanTucky

Observing in the summer is like heaven on earth.

In fact, now is one of the best times all year to look at the night sky.  I was out last night for four hours wearing shorts, sandals and T-shirt enjoying the weather and the stars.  As a Canadian, what a far cry from January when you can feel you’re toes getting numb after only a few hours.

But with summertime observing, comes those nasty mosquitoes and bugs.

If the bugs are really bad, I’ll put on some pants and a long sleeve shit. There are also a few other remedies such as wearing a bug jacket or a mosquito repellent containing DEET.

Even though DEET can be an effective mosquito repellent, it can harm your liver. This is not good.

Recently, there have been a few new developments in bug repellant technology.

The Insect Defend Patch is one. The patch is applied to a bare spot of your skin before you go out observing or any other outdoor activity. It’s made with Vitamin B1 or thiamine and the manufacturer claims that it’s safe and can protect you from these flying pests for up to 36 hours. They also claim that it’s still effective even if you take a shower or go swimming.

In the good old days, I remember my teacher telling me that some people used to gobble B1 capsules before they went out into the woods to protect them from the bugs. The problem with this method, is that B1 can be flushed out of the body easily and the patch helps with absorption.

Another option is Soyweet Relief Insect Spray. The manufacturer Soy of Life claims that it’s 100 per cent natural, chemical–free and non-toxic alternative that uses the naturally repelling properties of specific essential oils to stop insects from biting.

One of the essential oils is Catnip Oil, which according to a 2001 Iowa State University College of Agriculture study is 10 times more effective than DEET. The manufacturer also claims that the product can help soothe existing bites, and its antiseptic properties can help prevent infection.

I’ve never tried either of these products. They are probably worth a try if the bugs get too bad. So get out there and enjoy summertime observing despite those nasty pests while you can.


About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of publicity for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appeared on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at or
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