I have heard of people spraying their clothing with pyrethrins to ward off the bugs. Has anyone used the flea and tick spray sold in pet shops for dogs which primarily contains pyrethrin and permethrin?

I plan several BWAC and ADK trips this year and would like to have some bug protection. Thanks.


is not the word for the technique. I have used the produce - a permethrin spray whose manufacturer’s name escapes me. Spray can is green. Product is a synthetic pyrethrin and is specifically listed (EPA Registration) for application to clothing.

I have used it only on cotton trousers that I wear for hiking and specifically trail maintenance work. My goal has been to be tick-free, and so far I have been. Cannot say how well it will work for shirts, but permethrin is the active ingredient in Buzz-Off clothing. Anechdotal evidence suggests that it works OK. As with all insecticides, read and follow label directions.

Permethrin does not have a very high LD50 for insects - rather is affects their receptors and inhibits their ability to zero in on a warm-blooded animal. And the LD50 for humans is incredibly low as with all products in the pyrethrum class.

Another “secret weapon” in my arsenal is t heOriginal Bug Shirt". Have one, love it. I recommend the cotton Elite model.


big black flies
I have different bug sprays, but I am not too often a target of mosquitos. so I don’t try too hard. I was told that Vic’s Vap-o-rub keeps the black flies away. I used it on my hatband when I was in Algonquin and I was not bothered, but it could have also been keeping the elefants away, who is to say. It is just what i have heard.


Makes me wonder
I would’ve sworn that when we covered this stuff in insecticide toxicology back in my grad school days, they said permethrin had tremendous knock-down power, and that a small group of people walking repeatedly through a grassy field with the stuff applied to clothing could actually kill-off most of the ticks that were present in a very short time, or the amount of time necessary to come in contact with most of the grass. Not saying my memory might not be wrong of course. Perhaps that was something else, but whatever it was, it was something that came about during the early research on what would later become the best chemical for clothing-applied tick protection.

That statement about interfering with finding a host is something I’ve often heard about DEET, but not regarding insecticides.

Knock down is good
for teh pyrethrum family, but without the additived found in insecticides a large percentage of the insects would recover.

I misspoke about the receptors - blame it on th eNyquil I am currently swigging - the actual mode is CNS interruption. The little bastards can still smell you, but cannot make a controlled approach and landing.


I’ve used this to treat clothes on several trips.

Other folks were complaining about ticks and skeeters. I didn’t notice any.


But what about using
the pet store flea and tick spray? What’s the difference between that and the stuff advertised for clothing?

I kind of knew about the biology from when I had dogs before the advent of Frontline and Advantage.


Insufficient info
You would need to compare active ingtredients in the two products.

Technically, if you used a flea and tick spray labeled for pets on clothing you would have applied the product in a non-approved manner, a violation of the Federal law regulating these products (FIFRA). Doesn’t mean it won’t work though.


Synthetic vs Natural
This (ag chem.) used to be my bag many years ago. I recall that the very low oral LD on humans was one of the bonus points for these chemicals as it allowed workers back in the fields quicker after application. I never worked with the natural versions only the synthetic. The link below gives specific info on the human issues involved with exposer to the synthetic compounds. It looks pretty good. As stated above, the use is outside of the federal regulation and therefore, you are probably on your own in regards to risk.

I personally hate putting any bug spray on me. It creeps me out, but when the mosquitos are biting I would rub plutonium on me if I thought it would help.

Good luck.



– Last Updated: Feb-04-07 9:59 AM EST –

I'm reading from the spray can from REPEL a brand sold in the Camping section ar Walmart...

0.5% permethrin, 99.5% other ingredients...

I've used this on my Hennessey Hammock to keep the Skeeters from biting through, on my Gaiters and pants legs to keep ticks out, and on my hat and even on my PFD to keep no seeums from swarming around is an excellent product for it's intended use.

this link leads to a site for Equi Spot, a 45% solution for fly treatment in horses..note there are no human precautionary statements...when you curry and comb, ride, etc you come into contact with this strong a solution...if there were problems with higher concentrations, I'd think you'd of heard them by now.....

Apply the drops
on the scruff of your neck, like I do to my dog? Hasn’t killed him yet! :wink:

Other than repellents, I’ve found a full body check every six to eight hours works for ticks. They seem to take their time searching for a place to start feeding. Last summer, hiking around in tall grass and scrub forest searching for lost graveyards, I collected plenty of ticks, even with my clothes sprayed with DEET. But I’d check myself after I got out of the field, and none of them had sunk in for a drink yet, hours after I probably picked them up.

More info–clothing.html

The first link is to a site that has a political agenda. The last link provides some lab evidence that favors permethrin application.

You be da judge. Personally, I will continue using permethrin on clothing.


Go to and see the fourth letter down and its response.

I use Advantage.
My owner puts a drop behind my neck (so I can’t lick it off) once a month, and it protects me just fine. Much better than a flea collar.

Bug shirt
I second the vote for the “bug shirt” - works great and keeps them out of your face etc.

you might want to research
there might be some linkage between pyrethrins/permethrins and parkinsons and other central nerve problems. would you have an inner layer of clothing to separate your skin from the chemicals? not wanting to be alarmist but my beautiful friend is dying of old age at 60, she was a horse trainer who absorbed a lot of bug spray

I thought I’d get wise and pop one of
my dogs flea and tick pills. Damned if that pill didn’t turn out to be for heartworms. And it cost about $15.00. I am back to using Deep Woods Off.

use the stuff meant for clothes, not dog

– Last Updated: Feb-06-07 3:30 PM EST –

With pesticides, you really do want to follow the label's instructions. Pyrethrin/permethrin sprays work well against mosquitoes, and the active ingredients are relatively safe on your skin (permethrin is the active ingredient in scabies medicine, which people with scabies use on their skin, of course).

But it's all the carrier ingredients that you need to be cautious with. They don't need to be listed on the label, but they can be quite toxic when not used as directed.

Vet researchers test the dog sprays for canine toxicity; the REPEL manufacturers test the REPEL spray for possible human toxicity if a little gets on your skin. But don't assume that the dog spray is safe for a person, or the clothing spray safe for a dog. Just follow the directions. It's not worth saving a buck or two.

By the way, don't breathe REPEL--the carrier ingredients in the spray can really knock you out for a while. When they tell you to use it outside and then avoid all contact with the sprayed material for some time, do what they say! I sprayed it on a tent, went inside a while later, and just about passed out from the fumes.