Health Beat 2-1-2004

Insect Aside

We share this planet with approximately 900,000 (and increasing) species of insects, according to the Smithsonian Institution. In other words, it’s wise for travelers to pack the bug spray.
   Insect expert Lawrence J. Zwiebel, associate professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, says the only sprays truly proven effective against the pests are ones containing the chemical DEET. “There is some concern about it, especially when used by children, but the large majority of drugstore products contain low concentrations,” notes Zwiebel.
   Popular brands such as Cutter, Fite Bite, Natrapel, Off! and Repel all contain DEET and can be used to safeguard against chiggers, gnats, sand flies, mosquitoes and no-see-ums.
   For the best protection, Zwiebel advises travelers to wear clothing that covers legs and arms, and to spray the clothing, not the skin.
   Another smart move: Keep clean. Bugs are attracted by body odor, so hit the shower before an outdoor activity or open-air event.