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January 17, 2010 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Help, I need a force field strategy to repel sand flies in Belize!

I'm on my way to my annual stretch in Belize, yay. It's all perfect, except for the sand flies. Last year, I was truly considering going home early, it was so bad. It seems they like me a little more each year -- it's my irresistible CO2 emissions, I'm told. I'm going shopping for bug stuff but I think the Skin-so-soft route is just not enough. Any suggestions for conquering the swarms (also called noseeums)? I'd even buy one of those electronic repellents if someone's had good experience. A friend also wondered if there's something to be done dietarily?! Thanks all!
posted by thinkpiece to Travel & Transportation around Belize (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Stay in the water, or go to cobble beaches (does Belize have any?). I know that's not the kind of advice you're asking for but my best strategy against sand flies has been to avoid hanging around their territory.
posted by Orinda at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2010

I used to use Avon Skin so Soft as a kid and it never did anything for me - I always wondered if it was just me. According to this snopes article (look down the page a bit), we're not the only ones it does jack for.

I just finished a stint in a mosquito and sand fly infested area, and the only thing that worked at all was DEET. Find a product with a high percentage (20% or higher) and apply to all bare skin except face every time you're about to go outside. I found it would last about 4 hours, sometimes longer. It is fairly toxic, so I don't feel great about it, but I'll let you judge your chemical tolerance. I know mine went quite a bit higher after I found out that sand fly bites are mind numbingly itchy for at least two weeks.

Here's one example of a spray with DEET. They're often labeled as Sportsman or Deep Woods.

I've also heard some people swear by eucalyptus oil products, something like this one. I tried one for a while, and it did work a little bit. If it wasn't a particularly bad time of day, I could get away with that smeared on my face and hands and everything else covered up by clothes. But it really wasn't nearly as effective for me as the DEET products. The one thing it excelled in for me was post bite anti itch. I had a product that was a cream with eucalyptus and lavender and it would take a lot of the sting out of the sand fly bites, which would have otherwise driven me completely crazy.
posted by mosessis at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also tried the lemon eucalyptus spray that mosessis linked to, and found it best for numbing my skin to the insect bites. AfterBite helps too, as I recall, but the lemon eucalyptus spray is good for covering a large area of skin and numbing down the bites pretty quickly.
posted by Orinda at 2:00 PM on January 17, 2010

Unfortunately, the DEET is probably your best bet. However, I think the Skin-So-Soft does help a little and if you apply the DEET over the SOS, you'll have a bit of a barrier between your skin and the DEET, yet the DEET will be the 1st defense against those nasty buggers. Good luck - Belize is worth it! (didn't have a prob with them in early March) The lemon eucalyptus spray may work for you, but test it first as my face had a bad reaction to it in the sun.
posted by ourroute at 7:07 PM on January 17, 2010

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