Mozzie repeller lanterns

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Thermacell Backpacker
The Backpacker works with a standard stove gas canister to create a zone of protection. PIC: Thermacell

The growing threat of the Zika virus has helped to focus a lot more attention on the whole ‘mosquito’ problem and persuaded more companies to better publicise the advantages of their particular mozzie fighting product.

Of course, while Zika may not yet be borne by Australian mosquitoes, the grey nomad sitting in the Outback trying to enjoy an insect-free evening by the campfire can still benefit from some of this advanced mozzie-busting technology.

Enter Thermacell’s range of repeller lanterns. The devices are powered by a butane cartridge which generates heat which then disperses a repellent which has been soaked into a mat sitting on top of a metal grill. The repellent, allethrin – which is a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants – then wafts into the air creating a five metre zone of protection.

The company’s mozzie-fighting technology is not actually that new but, up until very recently, had been mainly manufactured for use by the military. Thermacell is now making an effort to create smaller lanterns for use by the wider travelling public.

The new Backpacker model weighs just 114g and measures just 97mm x 50mm x 67mm, while still offering the same breadth of protection zone. Thermacell says the system provides up to 80 hours of protection from a single 100g canister. Thermacell offers four and 12-hour allethrin pads.

According to a report in Gizmag magazine, there is a faint smell but the system is not nearly as intrusive as candles, sprays and other traditional mosquito solutions. It can basically be set and forgot, working in the background while grey nomads settle in for a buzzing free Happy Hour.

And does it work?

Well, various military bodies have run it through some serious scientific testing to measure effectiveness against mosquitoes and other biting insects. The results show that the unit is extremely effective at protecting people from mosquitoes and sand flies. While protection extends up to seven metres away from the unit, it is most effective within a three-metre range, delivering 95%-98% effectiveness at this distance.

The Backpacker Repeller will retail at US$39.99.

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