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updated: 7/10/2014 12:03 AM

Surviving the outdoor bites of the season

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Like so many others in the Northwest suburbs, we who have trudged through the jungles of the world and cityscapes, and wound up as the main course for flying bugs, I for one have finally fought back with great vigor.

When I lived in Minnesota the state bird there (mosquito) took liberties with human flesh, my flesh and that of my two small children.

I tried educating my wife then not to wear perfume if we were going to sit in our backyard. The neighborhood mavens knew the sweet-smelling fragrances would be like a radio beacon calling in the hordes of divebombing mosquitoes. And they came, flying in every direction.

This was back in 1971, and anti-mosquito technology was questionable, to say the least, so every trip into the outdoors was another lesson in survival techniques and lots of repeated scratching while inventing new expletives.

Over the course of time chemical companies that were busy manufacturing gooey, pasty-like, anti-mosquito liquids for the military, primarily in the World War II, South Pacific campaigns, saw their markets expanding to the consumer. Their liquids still smelled like something left over from high school science-lab experiments gone bad.

And with decades of personal experience, I am honestly telling you I have tried almost kind of modern-day sprays, with and without DEET.

Of course, now the "keepers of safe and clean bodies" decry the use of DEET because of claims of harmful reactions to both body and psyches alike.

I don't have to remind you we here in the flatlands have gone through a very wet spring and early summer.

Perhaps you have seen those small, yellow trucks with rear-mounted nozzles in your neighborhood, spewing supposed nontoxic to human sprays of mosquito killer in between homes.

The trucks are part of a very small army of mosquito hunters, but I question their actions and results, only because I honestly don't know what's worse for my household, the mosquito bites or the actual chemical spray. Could the result worth the risk?

So now I'm trying something that seems to be working like a champ.

I have two ThermaCELL® products, and even under these very tough 2014 mosquito conditions, the break in the prior pattern of mosquito attacks has made a marked difference.

On most trips to a lake or river I take a portable, clip-on ThermaCELL unit that has come through for me every single time. The other device is the stay-at-home, backyard deck ThermaCELL lantern that allows my wife and me to sit and enjoy our beautiful backyard and landscaping at dusk as well as beyond.

The sunset time period used to be air-raid time for us with swarms of biters invading our space.

ThermaCEL mosquito repellent appliances are powered by a single butane cartridge. Butane provides the cordless, portable heat that activates the patented devices.

The heat generated by the butane cartridge is directed to a metal grill that is part of the design of the unit. A small mat, saturated with repellent, sits on top of the metal grill. Heat vaporizes the repellent, allowing it to rise into the air.

The latest test run occurred when my wife and I went to one of the fireworks displays during the July Fourth celebration. We sat on damp grass, sometimes a killer spot for prospecting mosquitoes. I used the portable, belt-clip unit, and nary a bite was encountered. My wife was thrilled and bite-free.

• Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and podcast at

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