BWCA Permethrin harmful to BWCA wildlife? Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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Hunter123
  
01/28/2023 04:25PM  
I was thinking about using Permethrin on my clothes this summer to repel ticks and mosquitoes, but I came across this article (and others like it) that say it is very toxic to fish and bees. The last thing I want to do is harm the local fish and wildlife, so I wanted to hear from others that might know more than me. The relevant section of the article quoted below, I found similar information from the EPA.

“Permethrin has a low level of toxicity to birds and mammals, but it is highly toxic to insects, bees and fish. For this reason, it is important that residual material does not contaminate blooming crops, waterways or other aquatic areas.”

https://healthcenter.indiana.edu/health-answers/travel/insect-precautions.html
 
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cyclones30
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01/28/2023 05:23PM  
Being an insecticide I'd expect it to be harmful to bees. But unless you have bees swarming you, I doubt it would make much difference. I also find it hard to believe it would effect fish much since it's claimed to work on clothes even through multiple washes.
 
gotwins
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01/28/2023 05:34PM  
I think it's more of an issue if you dump it directly into the water. I don't think there's any risk of harming fish and bees with it on your clothes. At least that's what I've gathered from reading the label on the concentrate I use.
 
mschi772
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01/28/2023 05:55PM  
Once it is dry, it is quite safe and any that does happen to leave fabric and enter water afterwards will bind with sediment and fall out of aquatic environments to be rendered inert in the sediment. Once dry it is only a threat to bees if they're landing on treated fabrics.
 
01/28/2023 07:29PM  
mschi772: "Once it is dry, it is quite safe and any that does happen to leave fabric and enter water afterwards will bind with sediment and fall out of aquatic environments to be rendered inert in the sediment. Once dry it is only a threat to bees if they're landing on treated fabrics."


Source on this??
 
01/28/2023 09:46PM  
Link below to the many details of permethrin. It’s an environmental hazard. See section 14.2. Environmental impact on aquatic organisms is acute. LD50 values are in the parts-per-billion (ppb) range- that’s micrograms per liter and pretty potent. In terms of its environmental fate - it seems to hang out a while. Overall, it’s quite toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

Permethrin Pub Chem link

Permethrin is not a repellent. Rather, it kills (most any bug) on contact. Thus, it’s effective for ticks. It’s not going to repel the mosquitos or little flies like Deet or picaridin.

I’d say don’t wash your permethrin soaked clothes in the lake or river water and you will be ok. A common way it’s used is to spray a dilute solution on clothing and let it dry. Some will spray it on then put in the dryer or iron it in so it stays on - even after going through the washing machine.

Personally I’ve not found it effective and gave up using it long ago. I use deet spray when necessary.
 
01/29/2023 09:09AM  
bobbernumber3: "
mschi772: "Once it is dry, it is quite safe and any that does happen to leave fabric and enter water afterwards will bind with sediment and fall out of aquatic environments to be rendered inert in the sediment. Once dry it is only a threat to bees if they're landing on treated fabrics."



Source on this??"


You can search for MSDS on permethrin and find a lot of info. It has been the major food industry, agricultural insecticide since the early 1970's. Worked in the food industry for 44 years and handled permethrin weekly (the third eye I have is due to management not a chemical mutation).

butthead
 
cyclones30
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01/29/2023 09:14AM  
We've been extremely happy with having clothes treated and dry ahead of a trip vs not. Ticks especially but somewhat mosquitoes and flies too
 
Lawnchair107
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01/29/2023 10:35AM  
cyclones30: "We've been extremely happy with having clothes treated and dry ahead of a trip vs not. Ticks especially but somewhat mosquitoes and flies too "


Me too. Anything that says “treats ticks” I’m using.
 
ockycamper
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01/30/2023 12:25PM  
Lawnchair107: "
cyclones30: "We've been extremely happy with having clothes treated and dry ahead of a trip vs not. Ticks especially but somewhat mosquitoes and flies too "



Me too. Anything that says “treats ticks” I’m using."


We soak our outerwear and socks in premethrin and let it dry. We don't use Deet. We have found that picardin works far better and doesn't feel oily
 
01/30/2023 02:27PM  
Bug-off clothing has a permethrin application to it, that's the secret sauce that makes them work. Like others have said, the toxicity concerns come when it's been initially mixed and is in liquid form. Once it dries it is no longer harmful to creatures. The leftover product is bonded to the garments or gear.

Ticks suck!
 
02/01/2023 01:19PM  
All my life, I have washed my fruit and veggies. Does dry spray never come off the food or the clothes we use.

What about spraying just before you get into the canoe? This would seem to be likely harmful to any thing contraction it including people.
 
02/01/2023 02:41PM  
bwcadan: "All my life, I have washed my fruit and veggies. Does dry spray never come off the food or the clothes we use.


What about spraying just before you get into the canoe? This would seem to be likely harmful to any thing contraction it including people."


You do not want to be wearing clothes treated with permethrin without letting them dry first. You want to wear gloves and keep the permethrin off your skin when in liquid form. Once it dries, and all the extra chemicals that kept it liquid evaporate, it will bond to your clothes and is safe for people. It is the liquid permethrin mix that is toxic, not the dry bonded active ingredient.
 
ockycamper
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02/01/2023 03:50PM  
bwcadan: "All my life, I have washed my fruit and veggies. Does dry spray never come off the food or the clothes we use.

What about spraying just before you get into the canoe? This would seem to be likely harmful to any thing contraction it including people."

I treat my outer clothing only once every year, letting it fully dry. Then put those clothes in a sealed trash bag. Once dry, there is nothing harmful to animals or humans.
 
02/03/2023 01:43PM  
I'm quite certain I've seen firsthand that it will kill off crayfish. Noticed numerous dead crayfish dead in the water that weren't there the day before where someone was swimming in permethrin treated clothes.

I won't use it in the bwca anymore after that. I don't find it particularly helpful anyways. At least no more so than deet and you still have to use deet anyways since the permethrin won't stop the biting flies or mosquitos before they get to you.
 
schweady
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02/03/2023 03:54PM  
Seems that you could just vow to never swim while wearing permethrin treated clothing (which makes no sense to me in the first place, but I suppose it could happen).

Sorry, but I have first-hand control group trial experience that proves its effectiveness. It's one of the highest benefit vs risk ratios in the wilderness, except maybe that of staying alive vs suffocation from a too-tight PFD.

And no, I don't bother with DEET any more.
 
cyclones30
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02/03/2023 06:42PM  
I will gladly use a product that's going to have a good chance at protecting me from getting Lyme's in an area that's increasing with pressure from it.


I don't wear treated clothes in the water, I swim in underwear or shorts or whatever. Not my treated pants and long sleeve shirt, seems kinda odd to do so.
 
gotwins
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02/03/2023 07:38PM  
It’s just Lyme disease, not Lyme’s. Named after the place it was first diagnosed, Lyme Connecticut.
 
02/05/2023 07:41AM  
schweady: "Seems that you could just vow to never swim while wearing permethrin treated clothing (which makes no sense to me in the first place, but I suppose it could happen).


Sorry, but I have first-hand control group trial experience that proves its effectiveness. It's one of the highest benefit vs risk ratios in the wilderness, except maybe that of staying alive vs suffocation from a too-tight PFD.


And no, I don't bother with DEET any more.
"


People may not typically swim with it, but I would bet a lot of people are wet footing with their treated pants, one of those things where maybe it's not a big deal if only a few people do it infrequently, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a cumulative effect as more and more people do it?

What do you do to keep mosquitos off? That's my biggest gripe about permethrin, sure they might die later, but at least in the places I go it doesn't stop them from biting you first... Same with the biting flies, I've literally had dozens of them crawling around on a pair of pants I had just treated rather liberally the week before and it doesn't seem to bother them...
 
Lawnchair107
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02/05/2023 07:50AM  

What do you do to keep mosquitos off? That's my biggest gripe about permethrin, sure they might die later, but at least in the places I go it doesn't stop them from biting you first... Same with the biting flies, I've literally had dozens of them crawling around on a pair of pants I had just treated rather liberally the week before and it doesn't seem to bother them... "


Yeah I bring both. & by bring I mean treat before. Ticks are a whole different animal in which I don’t take lightly. But I see your point. I personally will always treat for ticks as long as it will be safe to do so.
 
02/05/2023 09:02AM  
Concerned about permethrin in water?
What about dogs in the water wearing flea and tic collars?
Look up the ingredients and you will likely find Deltamethrin or Flumethrin chemicals in the pyrethroid group right along with permethrin.

butthead
 
schweady
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02/05/2023 12:19PM  
keth0601: "What do you do to keep mosquitos off?"

AVON Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin -- Really. It's the best. Although the price has skyrocketed lately (and 3rd party sellers seem to not know how to spell anymore...)
 
02/05/2023 06:48PM  
schweady: "
keth0601: "What do you do to keep mosquitos off?"

AVON Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin -- Really. It's the best. Although the price has skyrocketed lately (and 3rd party sellers seem to not know how to spell anymore...)
"


The picaridin keeps ticks off as well doesn't it? I guess I'd rather just use one product and the deet/ picaridin works for the skeeters and the ticks so why bother with the permethrin?
 
schweady
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02/06/2023 04:18PM  
keth0601: "
schweady: "
keth0601: "What do you do to keep mosquitos off?"

AVON Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin -- Really. It's the best. Although the price has skyrocketed lately (and 3rd party sellers seem to not know how to spell anymore...)
"



The picaridin keeps ticks off as well doesn't it? I guess I'd rather just use one product and the deet/ picaridin works for the skeeters and the ticks so why bother with the permethrin?"

The permethrin protection is for the areas covered with clothing. The picardin protection is for the areas of exposed skin. It works. Not sure why I would be required to chose only one.
 
02/07/2023 02:02PM  
schweady: "The picaridin keeps ticks off as well doesn't it? I guess I'd rather just use one product and the deet/ picaridin works for the skeeters and the ticks so why bother with the permethrin?"

The permethrin protection is for the areas covered with clothing. The picardin protection is for the areas of exposed skin. It works. Not sure why I would be required to chose only one.
"

Exactly!

TZ
 
SouthernExposure
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02/17/2023 05:13PM  
I have been using permethrin on my spring turkey hunting clothes for 6 years now and have found ZERO ticks on my body since starting usage. This material, when applied correctly (wear gloves, soak clothes, allow them to dry completely) works and has been found to be benign once dried. The United States Army has long recommended the use of permethrin treated clothing and application of DEET on exposed skin for armed forces in multiple environments.

U.S. Army on Permethrin
 
Lailoken
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02/28/2023 02:19PM  
Never used ever. You check for ticks and you wear brimmed hat for flies, bug net for mosquitos. Don't use bug spray either. I've had full vaccinations, including rabies, for African travels, but for boreal forests, you can go au natural if you have the will.
 
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