Gendering Insect Repellent?

Sociological Images caught something very interesting—packaging the same mosquito repellent product in two different ways:

“the mostly blue package includes a male figure fishing and logos for hunting, camping, and fishing. ….the mostly orange package includes a female figure, perhaps on a walk.”

In addition to the colors, there are completely different fonts and images on each package.

Seriously? Is it that important to have gendered packaging for even this??
At least they didn’t have pink and blue versions.  Sigh.

I also have to question if this product will work, given the dismal performance of repellent wrist bands.  There are larger photos here, but I couldn’t quite make out the active ingredients.  It’s apparently a fan that blows out… something.  Frustratingly, the OFF product page has no information about what is being blown around.

Eventually, I discovered the active ingredient is Metofluthrin, which has been shown to be repellent to mosquitoes. However, the trial I linked to…only compared to a control:

89–91% reductions in landing rates compared with controls. Similar reductions in biting activity were also noted.  Following these tests, field trials to assess effect on landing rates were conducted with emanators positioned 1.22 m on either side of volunteers protected from biting by Tyvek® suits, with pre- and posttreatment counts being made. In Florida (predominantly Ochlerotatus spp.) 91–95% reductions were noted 10–30 min after emanators were deployed, while in Washington State (mostly Aedes vexans) 95–97% reductions were observed.

Now, that’s not too bad, but note that this was a test with TWO of these thingies on either side of the test subjects—not wearing it at the belt, as is shown on the product.  I’d like to see it compared to traditional DEET repellent to really know how it holds up.

BPR3

Frankly, I’ll stick to DEET, but there may be some folks less attractive to mosquitoes than me that this works well for.  (I am a mosquito magnet, so usually need extra repellent.)

LUCAS, J., SHONO, Y., IWASAKI, T., ISHIWATARI, T., SPERO, N., & BENZON, G. (2007). U.S. LABORATORY AND FIELD TRIALS OF METOFLUTHRIN (SUMIONE®) EMANATORS FOR REDUCING MOSQUITO BITING OUTDOORS
Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 23 (1), 47-54 DOI: 10.2987/8756-971X(2007)23[47:ULAFTO]2.0.CO;2

10 thoughts on “Gendering Insect Repellent?

  1. When I saw the title, I thought this was going to be about repellent that targeted only female mosquitos or something. Not sure why that would be an advantage, but… well, yeah. Pardon my naivete. D=

  2. I thought it was only female bugs that bite. Maybe the products should be ironically called ‘bite me’.

  3. “” Maybe the products should be ironically called ‘bite me’””

    lol…I wonder which “gender type” would generate more sales? :)

  4. Question for you . . . I used to be a mosquito magnet but recently they have stopped biting nearly as much and also when I am bitten, I don’t get the whelps I used to get, the itching is much less also.

    So, what happened? My only clue is that I’ve started using products that are based around tea tree oil. Everything I use has some in it. Laundry, shampoo, soap, etc. Do you think that could have been the difference?

    Thanks in advance for your noodle time.
    Chanda

  5. The decision to use applicable usage iconography on the “male” packaging and not on “female” design is very interesting. One wonders what the package developers reasons were for that.

  6. Chanda–it’s more likely that something in your personal chemistry changed. Has your diet or metabolism changed recently? Started taking a new drug?
    That’s usually when I see those sorts of changes.

  7. In a group of people I’m always the target, always have been (fleas too). I’ll walk into a person’s house that has icky mammalian pets and let them know about the flea problem they didn’t know they had. Are you like this with fleas too? I wouldn’t hesitate to try it under thick-mosquito circumstances, but it would be in addition to a thick application of DEET (so, not a very controlled experiment either).

  8. The sad thing is, I know several people who would be totally geeked if there was a pink version…

    I don’t think I would put this on a par with Dell computer’s “Della” site for women, but it is definitely moving in that direction. I tend to have a lot of mixed feelings about this phenom, because as regressive as it seems on it’s face, companies market this way because the market is there for it. At the same time it also runs smack into my personal desire to deconstruct archetypal social gender norms, something I think is incredibly important.

    I have actually been giving this a lot of thought since I read about the Della site and I really want to work out a coherent position on this. Because given my proclivity for writing about gender constructs, I really want to write about this phenom…

    re, mosquito repellent…I have found that eating a ton of garlic makes a huge difference. The downside being that we’re talking a lot, lot of garlic – enough that when you sweat, you start smelling of garlic. And cooked garlic doesn’t work really well either – if I am going to be going into a mosquito heavy environment, I will eat four or five average size raw cloves. I will get eaten alive if I don’t eat the garlic – I won’t if I do, even when the people around me are.

    But effective as it seems to be, garlic as mosquito repellent also functions quite nicely as a people repellent…

  9. Sadly, though, garlic is not effective for everyone. I find garlic works best to prevent colds…by repelling anyone else with a virus from getting near me.

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