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With the Month of May being “Lyme Disease Awareness Month”, it seems like the perfect time to discuss the importance of using insect repellents.

However…Before we go any further, I’d like to state that the insects never really quit here in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky (and other locations). Sure…They slow down, but they definitely do not stop.

I have personally pulled ticks off of myself in freezing temperatures before. I thought I was okay without repellent, only to come back home later on with that tickling feeling running down my chest. I went for a tick check and sure enough…there it was. With that said, make sure you take precautions. Even when you think insects “aren’t going to be out”.


Ticks are certainly my biggest nemesis around here. I am personally very anxious about the chance of getting Lyme’s Disease with the amount of time I spend outdoors and I know these little critters are a big cause of this disease. However, I’m also very aware and pro-active against Mosquitoes, as my youngest daughter is extremely allergic to their bites.

At least 2 or 3 times a year my daughter gets bit by a mosquito to the point where she has an allergic reaction from it. If the bite occurs anywhere on or near her face, she swells up to the point where she cannot see out of her eyes. As you can imagine, my wife and I searched high & low to find the best insect repellent out there to prevent mosquito bites. Picaridin Lotion has been our go-to for a couple of years now.

In fact, my daughter is the reason I wanted to write this article. It is my hope that other families and individuals can enjoy the outdoors without the risks associated with these pesky insects.


For years, I thought spraying some “bug spray” on myself at the trailhead was enough to keep all of the insects away. And who knows, you might be of that mindset now. But, let me say from firsthand experience, “bug spray” is not enough.

Successfully repelling insects is a two-part process:

  1. Use Permethrin on your clothes and gear.
  2. Use Insect Repellents on your skin/body.

Let’s dive deeper into each of these preventative measures below…


This is where I went wrong for years. I did not pre-treat my clothing or my gear with Permethrin. And this was one of my biggest mistakes in my defense against insects.

Now days, I have a pretty locked in regimen for pre-treating these items before I spend time outdoors…

  • I apply Permethrin to my clothing items and any gear that will be exposed to the outdoors 12-24 hours prior to leaving my house. I do this in a well ventilated area and let the Permethrin soak in, then dry overnight.
  • I, personally, like to pre-treat every clothing item I plan to wear with Permethrin (outer garments, under garments, bandanas, shoes, hats…everything). I also treat any blankets, backpacks, tents, pouches, etc that will be with me.
  • I also keep a log in my field notebook of what items I have pre-treated and when they need to be treated again so that I stay on top of it. You could easily put this type of information into your phone’s calendar as well and receive notifications for your next treatment date.

Since using Permethrin (paired with insect repellent) on my clothing and gear I have seen a huge decrease in insect activity.

See FAQ Here: Sawyer has a fantastic FAQ Section on Permethrin and their other Insect Repellents here.


Pre-treating with Permethrin is a great and necessary first step. Next, you need to take active precautions with a Picaridin or Deet spray.

  • I like to keep one of the large Picaridin Insect Repellents (as seen above) in the door of our family vehicles and a couple of smaller bottles of Repellent and Lotion in backpacks. This allows us to blast our exposed skin and hair as we leave the car. And touch up with the smaller bottles in the field if we stay out past their effective timeline.
  • Should you go with Picaridin or Deet? In my experience, it all depends on where you’re at and how prone to insect bites you are. I do very well with Picaridin for most of the year. However, there are certain locations (ex: deep woods and around slow moving water) that demand I use DEET. It also seems that late July into early August are the most problematic times of the year for mosquitoes around here. So, I would recommend you get both types of repellent and see what works best for you.

See Insect Repellent FAQ Her


With the 2 steps mentioned above (pre-treatment and active in-field treatment), you are guaranteed to enjoy your time outdoors more. And most importantly, you are going to be doing it more safely when it comes to disease & reactions associated with insect bites.

See all of our Insect Repellents Here


If you have a pup that you like taking on your outdoor adventures, check out Permethrin For Dogs. Your furry friend will love you even more after a quick treatment with this dog-friendly Permethrin treatment.

We use it on our German Shepherd/Border Collie and she has done great with it!


October 6, 2023

Written by
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Anthony Awaken

Media Mentions from Anthony Awaken

Commercial Photographer & Outdoorsman based in the Appalachian Mountains

Based in the Appalachian Mountains, Anthony is a commercial photographer who specializes in studio & lifestyle product photography. Alongside his commercial work, Anthony also maintains his own content here, which is geared towards the adventure & bushcraft community.

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Media Mentions

Sawyer has an alternative [to DEET] made with Picaridin, which works just as well without spoiling your clothes.

James Wong
Freelance Writer

Media Mentions

Zinzi Edmundson, the founder of Treehouse newsletter, who gardens in Maine, suggests spraying your shoes, especially (she uses Sawyer’s permethrin).

Laura Fenton

Media Mentions

I carry bottles of water, but I also have a Sawyer squeeze water filter. Also, if it’s cold, make sure you sleep with your water filter in your sleeping bag, so it doesn’t freeze.

Shilletha Curtis