Whether you're hiking, camping, picnicking, or relaxing on your porch or fire escape this summer, this gadget will keep mosquitos 15 feet away.

By Susan Brickell
August 18, 2020
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While summer brings amazing weather for a slew of outdoor activities—including hiking, camping, biking, fishing, picnicking, concerts, and relaxing on your porch or patio—it's also a season known for being humid, muggy, and buggy. There's nothing like venturing outside to connect with nature, to spend a majority of your time swatting mosquitos and dealing with itchy, swollen red bumps at the end of the day.

Have you ever wondered why exactly bugs treat your body like a feast, yet your friend or family member only gets attacked once or twice? "The reason mosquitoes prefer some people to others is not fully known, but it’s thought to be related to their attraction to chemicals released by your skin (primarily CO2) and unique smells that are subtly different from person to person," explains  Rachel Nazarian, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist and fellow at the American Academy of Dermatology. That being said, your reaction to the mosquito bite can also differ based on your body's immune system and level of allergic behavior, she adds. When a mosquito bites you, it leaves behind a small amount of its saliva, and this allergen induces an immune response that can vary in severity from person to person. "People that are more allergic to the saliva will release more histamine and other chemicals under the skin and mount a much greater allergic reaction, meaning the area becomes more red, itchy, and swollen," says Dr. Nazarian. (Related: Natural Mosquito Repellents May Not Actually Protect You)

Well, here's some news mosquito magnets will appreciate: Amazon shoppers have luckily discovered a highly-rated mosquito repeller that is DEET-free, has no chemical-to-skin contact, zero scent (yay, no more suffocating bug spray smell!), and won't leave you feeling sticky. The Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller (Buy It, $20, $28, amazon.com) is a lightweight, portable gadget that offers 15 feet of protection (talk about social distancing!) from pesky mosquitos for up to 12 hours.

How? It's not magic (even though it seems like it). The device works by using heat-activated repellent (read: allethrin, a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants). The device has a butane fuel cartridge that provides heat to the front-facing metal grill, and the heat activates the small repellent-soaked mat inserted on top of the metal grill, dispersing the repellent into the air and creating a zone of protection. The simple design means you don't have to be a Girl Scout to use it—just flip the front switch to turn the device on and press the button to start the heat source, which keeps the bugs at bay. More good news: It doesn't utilize an open flame, so you'll have peace of mind taking it into the wilderness. The product comes with one fuel cartridge and three repellent mats, so you'll have 12 hours of refills (each mat offers four hours of protection and turns from blue to white when it needs to be replaced). Once you're ready for more, you can buy more fuel cartridges and repellant mats on Amazon (Buy It, $22 for 12 mats and 4 cartridges, amazon.com).

If you hate the smell and feel of insect spray and would rather take your chances with hungry bugs when outdoors, it might be time to consider an option like the Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller. Why? "Mosquitoes have the ability to carry and transmit a number of diseases with greatly negative health implications," notes Dr. Nazarian. Mosquito borne illnesses include malaria, West Nile, and the Zika virus, among others—and for some there are vaccines, but for many there or not. While the risk is generally low here in the United States (compared to other countries with much higher rates of mosquito-borne illness and a greater potential for disease), the government's focus primarily has been on protective equipment and repellents for mosquitoes, she adds. (Related: 5 Zika-Fighting Bug Sprays That Actually Smell Good)

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Credit: AMAZON

One of the best things about this mosquito repeller is that, unlike other bug repellent, it's free of DEET, a chemical that's extremely effective in preventing mosquito bites, but that could pose health concerns. "Years of studies have found [DEET] to be safe and with a general low irritation profile; however, older stories (including one where people died drinking it) had raised concerned about the safety of it on our nervous system," points out Dr. Nazarian. While using insect repellent containing DEET should not be harmful (if you follow the directions on the label and use the product safely), in some rare cases DEET products may cause skin rashes. What's more, if you're using a product with a high concentration of DEET or if you're exposed to excessive amounts of DEET, you could experience rashes, blisters, and skin and mucous membrane irritation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

DEET is still recommended by many in the medical community and by the government as an effective tool against mosquito borne illnesses, adds Dr. Nazarian—but DEET-free products, like this one, are preferable for anyone who has concerns or has allergies to DEET. (Related: This $10 Product Painlessly Sucks Insect Saliva from Under Your Skin to Get Rid of Itching and Stinging)

With a 4.2 rating on Amazon, customers love the Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller for everything from hiking and camping to porch use and outdoor work—claiming that it's a must-have for mosquito magnets.

"[Thermacell] is the best product I have found for repelling mosquitos," shared a reviewer. "We live in Colorado and are outside every weekend all day. I will wear this on my belt when walking around camp. Although it’s bulky it does such a great job I make it work! I have a terrible reaction to mosquito bites so this is a must have for me. Have used this product for 2 plus years."

"Brought this camping with us. We slept in tents for 2 nights in a forested site next to the creek and not one of us had a mosquito bite the whole time. We had 2 of these running the whole time and they kept the bugs away!" raved a shopper

Another customer wrote: "I have used this a few weeks on our patio at home and have yet to be bitten while using it. I’m usually that person who can sit in a group where no one will get bitten but I’ll get bitten 20 times. So I’m always desperate to find something that keeps mosquitos off of me. I love this thing so far. The only downside is replacing the cartridges which don’t last quite as long as I’d hoped they would but as long as it keeps working, I’ll keep replacing them! And I LOVE not having to cover myself in DEET, and then having to shower again when I come in from outside just to get the sprays off of me. I do keep the unit right beside me or I hold it in my hand and wave it around my area every now and then. My husband laughs but hey, it’s working so far!"

Not to mention, it's available at a super affordable price of just $20 right now (originally $28)—so you save a few bucks. Instead of investing in stinky insect spray or a bottle of calamine lotion for post-hike bug bites, snap up the Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller to help keep mosquitos at a safe distance during your next outdoor adventure.