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What’s the honest efficacy of these things? Has there ever been a real study?
Consumer Reports did a study in May of 2016. Here's the link to it:
They studied clothing, not bandanas, though some of their findings would certainly apply to the bandanas as well. It's pretty much a mixed bag of results, some positive, and some not so much. More than a year ago, some of the diseases, especially Zika down here in Dixie, weren't as widespread as they are today. Consumer Reports' findings could be summed up as permethrin-treated clothing of any description should be one of several strategies used to combat mosquito and other species' biting and/or transferring disease to humans. These bandanas are not likely to work well by themselves, which is somewhat of a disappointment to me since I joined the drop, but I'll just look at it like I added another tool to my survival kit. If they don't work much at all, well then hey, I got a couple of new bandanas. I won't really bitch about it if that's the case, but I will come back either here or to the Reviews section and let everyone know that they don't work as-advertised.
This is fantastic thanks. I too was hopeful this might be a replacement, but it just sounded too good to be true. I’m curious to hear some first hand stories, though. Look forward to hearing what you think.
TL;DR works great, but only for the skin covered by bandana.
I don't have this specific item, but I have the ExOfficio BugsAway shemagh (big square 52" scarf) I got here last year and it works great. I live in Minnesota and suit up every time I take my dogs outside. I wear home treated permethrin pants & shirt, gloves, permethrin treated hat, and a headnet. Because there's a gap between my shirt and headnet, I wear the scarf. Zero bug bites!!! It's great.
Also for less bug heavy areas I will wear the scarf around my head like a grandma, and that keeps them from biting.
At the beginning of bug season 2018 I was concerned that maybe the InsectShield treatment would have lost its efficacy, since it was a year old and UV light & washing removes permethrin. I put my scarf in an open tote and dropped a few ants inside. When I checked back later they had died (rest in peace).
Keep in mind that the protection is *only* for the area covered. If there's 1 square millimeter of exposed skin NEXT TO the bandana, a mosquito will bite you :-)
Permethrin is a biocide, so it will kill insects and arachnids that remain in contact with it for too long (think nerve gas for humans). So while it's not a repellent, it has repellent qualities (mosquitoes can tell something isn't right about the fabric and usually won't land). Ticks don't seem to notice the permethrin, and will eventually die if they remain in contact for too long.
Hope this helps!
Assuming they are using Permethrin, not only are there decades of studies citing it's efficacy but the World Health Organization literally placed it on their list of vital medicines as it's not only extremely widely used as an aerial or sprayed pesticide on crops and other areas, but it's also used for treatment of human and pet parasites. Permethrin has been in use for longer than any of us have been alive, and it's remarkably great stuff; in a video created by the US Army's PEO Soldier program (which is responsible for the development of equipment for individual soldier use) they show treated and untreated fatigues, with mosquitos literally not even landing on the treated fatigues. I recently did several days/several nights in.a popular US National Park that can be famous for their mosquitoes and I wore long clothing that I had treated before leaving - mosquitoes would hover, but not land and certainly not bite.
Permethrin is by all accounts great stuff when used carefully and accordingly - it's not without it's dangers to humans and certainly not without it's dangers to animals and environment impact. Thing is, it's so widely and commonly used it's also quite, quite cheap. For the price of a single well marketed aerosol can you can buy less diluted permethrin in bulk and dilute it down for probably 5 years' worth of applications.... including to your favorite bandana.
Permethrin does break down in light, air and water exposure and rather quickly as well. This is why I do not, and will not, buy any "insect shield" type clothing or gear - not only are you drastically overpaying for the initial treatment but it's going to become ineffective in a hurry - much faster than say a DWR - at which point your' on your own to re-treat it. Just buy untreated stuff and treat it yourself I say; it's remarkably cheap and easy and some backpacking clubs will even host "permethrin days" where they treat everyone's clothing and gear for the season.
I prefer to do it at home, using diluted bulk (not really bulk, I bought about a quart) so that I can treat not only my clothing, but my tent, netting and fly's as well. Go read up on the stuff, it's a pretty vital piece of backpacking gear and knowledge.
Great answer! The benefit to InsectShield is that it does last longer based on their experiments and my own personal experience, but you are 100% correct in that it is way more expensive than doing it yourself. I did it myself two years in a row but I'm forbidden from doing it again to our clothes & indoor "welcome mat" towels (we provide our local ticks hitching a ride on our shoes with a warm welcome of permethrin ;-D ) because my boyfriend doesn't like the smell. I used Martin's Permethrin 10%. I used the Sawyer mix before and I doubt thick that has as strong of a smell... but costs more. Anyway, permethrin ftw!
I just get a couple of garlic cloves and eat them ....then bite one in half and rub the juice all over.