I’d just arrived on the Island of Mustique, and after a medicinal rum punch, I slipped off to bed early. Lights off, an electric bug-repelling diffuser by the bedside table, a romantic mosquito net positioned over the bed — I thought I was safe. But then I heard it, like a World War II fighter plane on helium: A mosquito had broached my gauzy defense. It circled, hovered, and dive-bombed. Then, silence (the worst bit is the silence). I knew the little bastard had landed somewhere about my person, inserted its proboscis, and was taking a long old drink of its favored tipple: my very own blood.
A globe-trotter by passion and profession, I’ve pretty much tried all options to avoid the hideous, itchy bites and — more worryingly — the potential, in certain countries, of malaria or Zika. I’ve sprayed on natural repellents, lit citronella candles, smothered myself in chemical-heavy lotions, and even tried Avon’s Skin So Soft — which apparently the Royal Marines swear by. But to no avail. Then one day, while preparing for a diving expedition with manta rays in the Maldives, I took to Amazon and searched for something akin to ‘I wish mosquitoes would leave me the f*** alone.’ A product called Don’t Bite Me patches popped up. I mean … my dream! I obviously clicked ‘Buy.’
When applied to the skin, the transparent, waterproof, two-inch adhesive squares infuse the body with vitamin B1, which mysteriously reduces our natural odors that mosquitoes and other critters find so darn tantalizing. To hungry mosquitoes, I imagine the patches are the equivalent of me having BO, garlic breath, and stinky feet all at once. From balmy nights in
St-Tropez to surfing holidays in Indonesia to the toughest test of all — hacking my way through the Amazon jungle — I’ve survived all with nary a nibble thanks to Don’t Bite Me. And even more satisfying, I’ve actually watched a mosquito approach me, linger a while, and then buzz off. The patches can be applied anywhere about the body, but my flesh of choice is a buttock, so that it’s neatly out of sight when I slip into a bikini. While they’re both sticky and waterproof, they probably wouldn’t stay stuck if you were to spend hours in a jacuzzi or swim an Iron Man. Still, I generally find the patches stick to my posterior for their full 36 hours. And when it’s time to reapply, I just slap a fresh patch on the other cheek, and wait for the first to fall away naturally. The more the merrier, right?
The patches are also devoid of the oft-dreaded DEET, and promise to be as effective and safe for kids as they are for adults. The only unexpected side effect is that you smell a bit like Marmite. But be warned: If you’re traveling in a group, make sure you take extra patches. When word gets round you’re holding a miracle mozzie buffer, you’ll be swarmed.
More Strat-approved mosquito repellents
If you’re looking for a DEET-free repellent that doesn’t smell like Marmite, writer Maureen O’Connor likes this lotion formulated with Picaridin (another proven mosquito-repelling chemical), which she says is ‘more consistently odor-free.’
If you’re looking for a powerful on-the-go repellent, but don’t love the idea of a patch stuck to your body for a day and a half, O’Connor also swears by these wipes (which contain 30 per cent DEET).
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