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Mosquitos love me. I’m the type of person who walks out to the garden to pick a single tomato, and comes back inside with a trail of swollen and itchy red welts. On a normal summer day, I’m averaging at least a half-dozen bites on all extremities. I guess I’m just that sweet.
There is apparently some truth to the school of thought that mosquitos actually prefer some people over others: “Some people produce more of certain chemicals in their skin. And a few of those chemicals, like lactic acid, attract mosquitoes,” Dr. Jonathan Day, a medical entomologist and mosquito expert at the University of Florida told TIME. And according to Smithsonian, mosquitoes landed on people with Type O blood nearly twice as often as those with Type A blood. Guess who has Type O blood?!
Here’s the real kicker though: I seem to be allergic to most bug spray. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, considering how many chemicals are in conventional bug sprays, but until I found Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Wipes ($9), it made outdoor gatherings quite uncomfortable.
Aunt Fannie's Mosquito Wipes, which come in packs of 10, claim to repel mosquitoes and other biting bugs, like ticks, gnats, and black flies—without DEET and other harsh chemicals. The wipes are formulated with just six ingredients, and I’m familiar with and can pronounce every single one: peppermint oil, sesame oil, olive oil, castor oil, wheat germ oil, and Vitamin E. Still, they promise to provide up to four hours of protection.
Could these wipes finally get those pesky mosquitos to buzz off? I put them to the test during last week on a particularly hot (upwards of 100 degrees!) and humid evening while we were having a backyard barbecue.
Putting Aunt Fannie to the test
The first thing I noticed was the smell—the wipes are minty and fresh. My brother, who also gave the wipes a try, likened it to a thin mint. When you apply, it doesn’t feel like you’re putting anything on. There’s no greasy or sticky residue—just a subtle sheen on your skin, so you know it’s there. It wasn’t particularly hydrating, but it wasn’t drying either. I liked that it was neither here nor there, because I promptly forgot I was even wearing bug spray and I didn’t have the same urgency to cleanse my skin as I do with normal repellants.
Through the night, people were complaining about the mosquitos and reaching for bug spray—but I can honestly say that neither my brother nor I were bitten once, despite being outside from 3 p.m. to about 10 p.m.
The downside, if there is one, is that there are only 10 wipes per package. Though one wipe does cover your entire body, there weren’t nearly enough packets to offer to the whole party like you could a traditional bottle of bug spray. All 10 packs were gone in less than 20 minutes and you can’t share or reuse wipes, so 50 out of 60 people in attendance went without.
Even if you weren’t having a party, one package wouldn’t be enough for even a family of three for a week. The cost-conscious would balk at the idea of spending $10 per pack when my other favorite bug repellant product, also DEET-free, costs just $4 more and is going strong for the second summer in a row.
Still, I’m relishing in the fact that, for the first time in years, I don’t have any bug bites on a summer day. To me, that’s worth the price tag.