Bug Off Wristband: Does it Work? - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Bug Off Wristband: Does it Work?

It's inevitable that you're going to have to go outside sometime during mosquito season, and spraying down with a can of "Off" before heading out the door might not be practical for you.

Joe Terrell tests a simple product called the "Bug Off" that might not be the ultimate protection, but it's inexpensive and it might just be better than nothing. But the question is: Does it Work?

Dr. Steve Presley is a researcher at the Institute of Environmental and Human Health and he has access to 500 hungry, female mosquitos. Dr. Presley raised them from larvae. 

Dr. Presley and five brave souls plan to stick their arms into cages full of mosquitoes for our test.  Bug Off is a little wristband.  It looks like a round, colorful telephone cord.  It's treated with citronella.

Two of our volunteers will be wearing the Bug Off on their right wrists. Dr. Presley explains what else will be needed for this test. "We're going to have a positive control which is Deet. We know it works.  Each left arm will be negative control." What he means by that is, the right arm on each volunteer will have some sort of treatment and their left arm will be all natural.

After a quick wash, everyone was ready to take on blood sucking mosquitoes inside the insectary.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  And no, there is no chance any of these mosquitoes carries West Nile. Because they were all raised here, Dr. Presley can ensure they're all disease free.

Rachel goes first. She's wearing the Bug Off on her right arm and nothing on her left. Each arm in separate tanks. Three men stand in as the official counters.

And the count? Five mosquitoes were biting her arm with the band. Fourteen were on her untreated left arm.

Ritchie was wearing the wrist band too.  Only one mosquito doesn't mind the citronella, but a whopping 19 mosquitoes having a feast on his unprotected arm.

Walter has no band, just mosquito repellant with Deet on his right arm. The mosquitoes are staying clear from the Deet, but five are feasting on his untreated left arm. Les has on Deet too.  Again, the arm sprayed with Deet is 100 percent guaranteed to repel those mosquitoes and is clean. And our observers count four bugs on his untested arm.

At this point, we've lost our itch to submit anyone else to this abuse.

Dr. Presley says he has all the data he needs. 

So, "Does it Work?"

These were pretty controlled lab conditions, so we're confident saying, while the Bug Off bracelet with citronella is pretty effective, our test shows products with Deet are still clearly the best. We want to stress that. When you can, and the stakes are high, protect yourself with Deet. But you can't always spray, and the Bug Off is certainly better than nothing.

We give the Bug Off wrist bands, a yes.

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