Outdoors

Mosquito-free time outdoors with a Thermacell

The Thermacell unit, left, is about 99.9-percent effective at repelling mosquitoes.It is powered by a butane cylinder which heats a blue pad treated with repellant. The holster, sold separately, comes with a clip.
The Thermacell unit, left, is about 99.9-percent effective at repelling mosquitoes.It is powered by a butane cylinder which heats a blue pad treated with repellant. The holster, sold separately, comes with a clip. The Wichita Eagle

Kathy and I have enjoyed several leisurely dinners on our deck this spring and summer. One evening last week I worked in and around our garden, taking out some high weeds in a pubic easement. Neither time did/we I get a single mosquito bite.

Like most places in south-central Kansas this spring and summer mosquitoes have sometimes seemed as thick as the lush grass in our lawn because of all of the moisture. There have been times when I could only take the buzzing and biting for a few minutes before I was literally chased back into the house by the dreaded bugs.

The reason we/I didn’t have that problem on those evenings we ate outside and I worked in the garden was completely because of our Thermacells.

That’s basically a plastic, coffin-shaped device that is close to 99.9-percent effective at keeping mosquitoes away from you. It runs on a little butane cylinder which heats a pad that comes coated in insect repellant. I’ve yet to speak to anyone who has been disappointed in the product.

At times when we’ve hunted teal at September marshes we could literally see a wall of mosquitoes hovering just outside the effective range of our Thermacells. They work so well I even bought one for my dog. Here are a few facts -

▪ Thermacells usually retail for about $25, though I got one on sale for about $20 once. That comes with enough butane and repellant for about 12 hours of protection. That’s a long time when it’s 20 minutes here or 30 minutes there.

▪ It takes about five to ten minutes for the unit to get hot enough for the repellant to do much good, so it’s wise to place it where you need it ahead of time.

▪ Each Thermacell provides an area about 15’ by 15’ of protection. The breeze may shift that some, so set your Thermacell upwind a bit if it is windy.

▪ To light the Thermacell, there’s a simple switch to turn it on. You then wait about five seconds and push an igniter. You can hear when it lights, or see a glow down inside the unit.

▪  Butane cylinders generally last 10-12 hours and just screw in the bottom of the unit. There’s a small window where you can look in to check how much fuel is remaining. I generally go ahead and just unscrew the cylinder to check ours, though.

▪  The pads last three to four hours and lose their coloring as they lose their effectiveness.

▪ Replacement cylinders and pads are generally easy to find at any store that sells Thermacells, which includes most major sporting goods stores and the sporting goods sections at large retailers.

▪  A holster with a clip, and places to store two cylinders, can also be purchased. Be careful the clip can spin the Thermacell, which could allow the pad to fall out. (Trust me, the mosquitoes will let you know when that, or any other problem, occurs with a Thermacell.)

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