DEET, Mosquitoes and Birding

You love to go birding, but you hate those mosquitoes. Is it bird-friendly to use a DEET repellant? Didn't DEET make the eggs of birds too thin? Nope, that was DDT.

With all of the urban legends about lemon fresh joy, vitamin B-1 and Skin So Soft being disproven, many DEET avoiders are now heading back to the tried and true mosquito repellents that are made with this substance. DEET has been proven in numerous research studies to be the best way to prevent mosquitoes from biting at you.

Birders are by their nature a group concerned about the health of the environment, and some have confused DEET, which wards away mosquitoes, with DDT, a powerful pesticide used decades ago and thought to responsible for thinning bird eggs to the point that they broke when the mother sat on them.

The two substances are quite different. Not that either is safe to consume either! DEET bug repellents should be used on your long sleeved shirt and long pants to help keep the bugs away. It is best not to use it on your bare skin.

As a side comment to the DEET / DDT story, recent reseach has found that actually egg shells were thinning up to 50 years BEFORE DDT came into use. That it apparently was not the DDT "suddenly" causing a thinning - the thinning was going on all that time. Research seems to indicate that the industrialization of the world and the acidic air and soil contributed to the weaker shells.

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