As a tree-planter I worked in some remote areas where the air was so thick with mosquitoes that we gave up trying to squish them. You couldn’t do it; you’d be slapping yourself in the face all day long. So, we gave up and simply let the mosquitoes eat us. We had no other choice.
It’s commonly understood among tree-planters, who spend several months of the year covered in the little winged leeches, that only two things will repel mosquitoes; a chemical called ‘deet’ (which is present in varying amounts in most mosquito repellents) and, for reasons that no one has explained, a lotion marketed to old women for a short time in the 90’s called ‘Skin So Soft’. Deet is toxic and the perfumed scent of Skin So Soft if vile, so many of us opted not to wear any repellent at all.
When Haeleum offered to send me an odorless sports shirt that was designed to repel insects of all kinds (including mosquitos), my curiosity was piqued. According to product literature, Haeleum uses Insect Shield technology , which binds a man made version of a natural repellent found in flowers called permathrin to the fabric. The shirts sell for $35-40 USD.
The Haeleum shirt is good-looking and functional. It’s a simple solid black (also available in a variety of basic colors), is made of a breathable and quick-drying light synthetic fabric that is good for outdoors activities, wrinkles little, and takes up little luggage space compared to a cotton t-shirt–all things that I like.
I was, however, skeptical about the shirt’s ability to repel mosquitos.
Now, I have had the shirt for several months and have worn it in Taiwan and the Philippines. The first day that I wore my Haeleum t-shirt around mosquitoes, I realized that there would be a problem with testing it: I would never know if a mosquito landed on the shirt because it’s black (so I wouldn’t be able to see them) and because mosquitoes rarely bite through clothing.
I must admit that while wearing the t-shirt, mosquitoes bit my legs as often as usual. I don’t know, however, if a shirt should repel mosquitoes from your legs. I suspect not. The occasional mosquito did land on my forearm. It’s hard to say whether the shirt repelled the mosquitos from my arms and sent them diving for my lower regions because mosquitoes, I’ve found, seem to have a special attraction to my calfs. My testing, it seems, was grossly unscientific.
I don’t often spend time in places where ticks and ants and the other insects that Insect Shield repels crawl on me, so, in the end, I cannot claim to be sure of how well Insect Sheild repels insects. The literature that came with the shirt did include some very impressive test data and testimonials, and the technology is used by several well-respected outdoors brands (such as Tilly, L.L. Bean, and Orvis) so I’m sure that Insect Shield must work to some degree.
Does it repel mosquitos as well as Deet or Skin So Soft? I can’t say for sure, but those products are so disgusting that I refuse to wear them. The Haeleum shirt, on the other hand is comfortable, functional, good-looking and, as promised, ododorless. So, when given the option between a sports shirt that might repel mosquitoes and one that definitely won’t (the price is basically the same), I think it would be silly not to pick the Haeleum shirt. In my opinion, Haeleum Insect Shield clothes are definitely worth testing out.
Have you ever tried Insect Shield technology? What did you think?