A few weeks ago, I was listening to Jonathon Brandmeier’s show on the radio, and he was talking about the AgraCo Mosquito Patch. I’d never heard of the product, but the caller on the line with Johnny was passionate about how well it works, saying it is a DEET-free patch that actually does what it says it will do — repels mosquitoes without synthetic chemicals.
I was intrigued. Who doesn’t want to be mosquito-free? The mosquitoes have been especially bad here as of late thanks to the rain the Midwest has received this summer. My boys and I also had two weeks of scout day camp to look forward to this month — they as campers, I as an activity leader. Having volunteered at camp for several years now, I also knew that Boy Scout camp is mosquito heaven — lots of trees, wooded areas, and skeeters.
I ordered the mosquito patches from Amazon, and they’re not exactly cheap. Depending on the size of the package that you buy, each patch is a little over a dollar. Each patch is also supposed to last 36 hours. The patches work by saturating your skin with vitamin B1, which makes your body’s scent unattractive to mosquitoes. I’ve heard of campers and outdoorsmen trying to achieve the same effect by taking lots of vitamin B1 prior to spending time in mosquito country, but I hadn’t heard of a vitamin-based mosquito patch prior to the radio segment.
Still, the thought of keeping the kids and myself bite-free for our days in the woods seemed worth taking a chance on. I bought the 20-pack of patches for $22.49. Amazon reviews of the Mosquito Patch are mixed – there are many positive reviews and a smattering of reviewers stating that the patches did not work for them. This week, we slapped the patches on and headed to camp to see what would happen.
The instructions on each patch recommend putting the patch on three hours before heading outdoors. We put our patches on (kind of in the hip/back area so they’d be under our clothes and not affect camp suntan lines!) around 7:00am each day. Camp began at 9:00am, but none of us felt like waking up at 6:00am to put the patches on.
I packed cans of Deep Woods Off in my boys’ backpacks just in case the patches didn’t work as they went about their days at camp. I was stationed in an open-air camp shelter manning the craft areas, so I decided to brave the mosquitoes and tough it out to really test these patches. When I saw my boys throughout their days at camp, we gave each other updates and compared mosquito stories.
I was actually quite surprised how well the patches worked for us. The mosquitoes were thick and all around the kids and leaders at camp. Throughout the day, most of the other boys got many mosquito bites on their faces, arms and legs despite using various bug sprays, citronella wristbands and the like. My oldest son got bit on the leg once in the morning, and I also had one mosquito bite on my arm around 10:00am. My youngest son wasn’t bit at all. Two bites over the course of a day seemed pretty good.
The patches say that they are good for 36 hours, so we kept them on overnight and didn’t apply a new patch on the second day of use (we were trying to get our money’s worth out of those patches!) By late afternoon on the second day, I had a few mosquitoes buzzing around me and landing on my clothing. I swatted them away before they could bite. We decided that it was probably best to plan on using one new patch each day for maximum effectiveness. After switching to one patch per day, guess what — no bites for the rest of the week. None.
If you are sensitive to smells, know that the patch may change the way you smell. The vitamin B1 in the patch is being absorbed by your body to the point that the packaging notes that it may change the color of your urine (really.) I didn’t notice any changes in the way my sons smelled while wearing the patches, but I noticed the change in the scent of my own skin. I’m sure that sounds terrible, but it wasn’t that bad. If you’ve ever sniffed a bottle of vitamins, the scent is something like that — it’s “vitaminy.” Oddly, the scent also reminded me of my parents’ old canvas camp tent. It’s not a bad or offensive smell, but I was definitely aware of it while wearing the patches.
We put our patches on around 7:00am, and around 11:00am I could smell the effects of the Mosquito Patch coming through my skin. On the first night of wearing the patch, I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep and I could still smell the vitaminy scent on me — even after a shower. By mid-morning on the second day of use, I could barely smell the scent on my skin any more, which I took as a sign that the patch was wearing off.
After wearing the patch for two days, we also noted that the patches weren’t the easiest to remove. One of my sons had no trouble peeling his patch off. My other son and I found that the patch’s adhesive stuck to our skin after we pulled the patches off, and the sticky residue was also tough to wash off. We didn’t have issues with this when taking the patches off at night after a day of use.
Still, I think the effectiveness of the patches were worth enduring the stickiness and scent issues — they actually worked for us. With West Nile cases confirmed in Illinois this season, we plan to use them for camping trips too or any days that we’re outdoors for extended periods of time.
The AgraCo Mosquito Patch is available online. I purchased the patches for our family’s use and chose to write about our experience. This post has not been sponsored by the manufacturer.
Additionally, if you’re headed to the Caribbean on vacation and haven’t read or heard about Chikungunya (also known as CHIKV), it’s a nasty mosquito-borne disease that’s sweeping the Bahamas, Caymans, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and many other Caribbean countries. Jamaica has declared a state of emergency with Chikungunya. While the Caribbean Public Health Agency says it’s “rarely lethal,” there is no cure for the disease, and its painful effects on one’s body and joints can last for years.
I first learned of Chikungunya when two of my former neighbors contracted the disease on a Jamaican vacation last year. They shared their story with the Daily Herald — they’re from Elgin, Illinois — and the whole thing just hit too close to home for me. Our family has vacationed in the Caribbean several times too, and the Chikungunya outbreak has scared us enough that if we travel that way again, we’ll definitely bring these mosquito patches along (as well as traditional repellant sprays for extra measure!) to try to reduce the risk as much as possible.
Perhaps I’m overreacting a bit, but strange diseases without cures terrify me. (I also have an irrational fear of dying of a Naegleria fowleri infection — the”brain-eating” amoeba — but that’s another story…) I also hadn’t heard of Chikungunya at all until my old neighbors came down with it, so since I’m already on the topic of mosquitoes, I figured I’d pass the knowledge along.