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Cinde W. Ingram

Keeping the bugs away

More gardeners are invading the outdoor spaces of wildlife and insects, but swatting and scratching are not the desired results of America's most popular activity. As a result, new products are available to keep bugs at bay.

According to recently released data from the National Gardening Association, people in a record 91 million households worked on their lawns and gardens last year. Consumers constantly bombarded by technology during the day are looking to slow down and literally smell the roses.

Technology, though, isn't far from the home front. Consider the following new products, designed to ward off mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums or territorial wasps.

  • ThermaCell, a butane-operated area insect repellent, provides a 15×15-foot cell of protection against mosquitoes and other biting bugs. With the click of a button, the ThermaCell cartridge heats a mat and releases Allethrin insect repellent, a synthetic version of pyrethrin, a naturally occurring insecticide. Placing a ThermaCell unit in a central location can keep an entire 225-ft. back yard mosquito free.

ThermaCell uses the opposite approach of products that attract and kill bugs, said Allegra Lowitt, vice president of marketing for ThermaCell, a division of Bedford, Mass.-based The Schawbel Corporation.

"This creates a zone of protection where bugs won't want to come," Lowitt said. "It's actually being used by our Army right now in Iraq; they use it to go to sleep. We have reams of test data to prove it works and have gotten a number of seals of approval."

Independent retailers who carry ThermaCell, a butane-operated unit similar in size to a TV remote, have been most successful with countertop displays, Lowitt said. It's also sold through hardware stores, sportsman shops and mass merchants.

Related products, the ThermaCell Lantern and Mood Lantern, provide protection from insects along with ambient outdoor lighting. The lantern is silent, odor-free, has no messy wax and turns off automatically if accidentally tipped over. The lantern is available in a standard clear and a mood version that provides an ever-changing color show. Both lanterns are 8.5" tall and 5" in diameter at the widest point. They also operate by heating a mat to release Allethrin and come with repellent mats, batteries and a butane cartridge, similar to a lighter. Suggested retail is $29.99 for the Mood Lantern and $24.99 for the clear lantern.

  • The Original Waspinator mimics an enemy nest, which encourages wasps and yellow jackets to leave the area. Distributed by Vancouver-based That Marketing, the Waspinator was introduced in 2005 by two sisters who previously used a homemade version of the old wasp control tactic.

The Original WaspinatorKim Cassar Torreggiani said she and her sister, Vikki Olson, had experience bringing wholesale gift products to market but worked for about two years developing the recyclable polypropylene Waspinator, which is weatherproof, can be squished to take along and puffed out again for an appearance that fools the territorial pests. The Waspinator works as an alternative to traps and is environmentally friendly.

"Now all the entomologists love it because you don't really want to kill wasps because they kill aphids and other garden pests, so they serve a purpose in your garden," Torreggiani said. "It's a great alternative to the messy traps with sticky disgusting dead wasps and also to chemicals, which shouldn't really be an option. I think people are looking for green products now that aren't harmful to the environment."

During product development, the sisters learned more about wasps and other flying insects "that come and bug you when you're eating," Torreggiani said. For example, when wasps are killed, a pheromone is released that attracts other wasps. "If you put out a trap and kill them, you're actually signaling the rest of the colony to come as well," she said.

Hardware stores and lawn and garden retailers were first to recognize the Waspinator's potential value. All the retailers who ordered it in its first season have placed reorders, she said. Others who were more skeptical at first have placed orders after using samples. So the sisters have collected lots of testimonials from customers, but are only now seeking seals of approval. For more information, visit, call toll-free 1-866-999-8428 or e-mail

  • Bug Band, Inc. offers a range of patented bug repellent products, which use the natural plant extract Geraniol.

 Bug Band, Inc. offers a range of patented bug repellent products, which use the natural plant extract Geraniol.

 Wristbands and towelettes are handy ways for people with active lifestyles to use bug repellent vapors.

 Bug Band, Inc. offers a range of patented bug repellent products, which use the natural plant extract Geraniol.

 Bug Band, Inc. offers a range of patented bug repellent products, which use the natural plant extract Geraniol.

The entomology department of the University of Florida, Gainesville, directed by Dr. Jerry Butler, spent 17 years researching the most effective, long-lasting insect repellent and conducted more than 4,000 studies of blood-feeding insects to develop the "next generation" insect repellent.

As a result, Bug Band developed bands for wrists/ankles, towelettes, pump sprays and repellents for yard, garden and animal bedding. In addition to being effective on people, Bug Band, Inc. has developed Geraniol products for use on animals such as dogs, cats and horses. For more information, visit

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