mosquito No redeeming qualities.

Quest for an effective mosquito repellent

From Listerine and Bounce, to vanilla and flea repellent for dogs

Living in the tropics means living with insects, most of which follow the basic bug creed: swarm for a short period then disperse, mate and die.


Since we live in an “older” Mexican house we are fortunate to be able to examine all varieties within the comfort of our home. Most of these aerial intruders are benign, some are quite interesting, a few are rather beautiful, others are unbelievably large, and thankfully most have a short life cycle.

However, the lowly mosquito comes at all times of the year, and has no redeeming entomological qualities.

The good news is the constant ocean breeze whisks most of the little bloodsuckers into the low-lying neighborhoods to the east. It’s the relative few that remain behind which are annoying.

These parasitic pests don’t bother me much; my body chemistry is not to their liking. My Captured Tourist Woman, on the other hand, has become a walking buffet for a perpetual pack of persistent mozzies. Thinking myself fully equipped to deal with life in the tropics, I offered her my 100% DEET as an immediate solution.

But she had no desire to put this potent chemical directly on her skin or even on her clothing; we needed an alternative method for repelling mosquitoes.

In the states I had used a diluted Listerine spray with some success, so that was the first of the home remedies we tried; a complete waste of mouthwash. The next was wiping down the body with Bounce fabric softener pads; not as nice as Chanel, but not unpleasant. But this attempt only gave the little buggers a scent to home in on — and they did.


Of all the homemade repellents, a solution of vanilla and water seemed to be the most effective but it required application every two hours. The beneficial aspect of this treatment is having a woman who always smells like a vanilla wafer.

The vanilla was working well until one night the little blighters found the bottoms of her unsprayed feet. The next morning she could not scratch her feet hard enough or long enough; a true misery of the sole.

A couple of weeks after the foot episode I was at a veterinarian’s office with a friend and I spotted some Frontline. Frontline, like Revolution, is a flea and tick repellent which is applied directly to the skin of dogs and is effective for 30 days.

It only requires a few drops directly on a small area of bare skin. Right then the light bulb in my cranium lit up, almost blinding the hard-working hamster in there. These products are very effective in keeping fleas and ticks off dogs, so maybe it would work for my partner’s mosquito problem, but only if I used enough.

Given her earlier reaction to the DEET, I knew my administration of the new miracle emollient, which she would be grateful for later, had to be crafty and catch her unawares.

I chose Frontline over Revolution because it is used only for ticks and fleas while Revolution also treats heart worms and a few other canine maladies. Since she has never shown any signs of such maladies I didn’t want to pay for something unnecessary.

I was convinced that if this stuff could kill a tick, the mosquitoes wouldn’t stand a chance. I bought the packets for large dogs between 100 and 140 pounds; I figured three packets should do the trick. Now I just needed the right opportunity for a stealthy application.

The time arrived one night after spending a long afternoon at a beachfront palapa. We were both tired and since it was a warm night, we slept uncovered. Later, I quietly retrieved one packet of the Frontline and let it slowly soak into the skin at the back of her heels where nerve endings are sparse.

The next day she seemed normal. There were no apparent changes in her physical or mental wellbeing; she was as bright and happy as always, but with a couple of new mozzie bites. I was glad I had the foresight to purchase enough Frontline for a 350-pound dog.

Over the next week, when I knew she was tired, I applied the rest of the Frontline without being detected by my sleeping partner.

I watched her closely over the next couple of weeks, looking for both hovering mosquitoes and possible side effects. The mozzies have not bothered her for over two weeks and fortunately she still smells like a Christmas cookie because she thinks it’s the vanilla that is keeping the bugs at bay.

Now if only I could keep her from chasing cars and attempting to bite the mailman, all would be well again.

Bodie Kellogg describes himself as a very middle-aged man who lives full-time in Mazatlán with a captured tourist woman and the ghost of a half wild dog. If you wish to give him cold beer, large sacks of money or a piece of your mind, he can be reached at

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  • GNWilson

    Not sure if your involuntary chemical treatment of an unconscious person (your Captured Tourist Woman) is humor or fact, but it sure sends alarm bells ringing for me. Did you consult with a doctor or Poison Control Center about topical use of Frontline on human skin? What if she, or you, is allergic? What if it gets in her food and she ingests it unknowingly? Anaphylactic shock is NOT pretty. Have you ever seen the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Bounce? It is terrifying. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but do believe we should be more careful and deliberate about the endless variety of omnipresent and potentially toxic chemicals we expose our unprepared bodies to. If you are reporting facts, I do hope you ‘fess up to your CTW and tell her what you have done. If this is humor, this reader would appreciate a disclaimer letting us know you are not potentially poisoning her over time, without her knowledge.

    • TioDon

      GW….I think you need to stay in the US where extreme paranoia is the norm. What he is doing is fine except in over regulated US.

      • GNWilson

        Fine? It is a personal assault, regardless of geographic location.

        • TioDon

          Sissy, stay in the US.

    • John

      Very much agree with you. The author of this article might possibly be interested in the family friendly website

  • gaymex1

    Your relationships are your business, but you should have asked before medicating anyone, especially a sleeping person. That aside…how can this work on mosquitos when it doesn’t act immediately? It’s a little late after you’ve been bitten. I wish it were true, but there needs to be a little more research done before this or any substance is used on a human.

  • Paul Clark

    responses are far too anal from people who left their sense of humour (humor) north of the border Cheers

  • MortimerSnerd

    Try Avon Skin So Soft… relatively benign used for decades in Canada by loggers working in the woods, and I can attest to that part, we used to buy it by the 5 gallon jug. Will it prevent 100% of all mossie ‘landings’ … nope but try 95%+ depending on your physiology and your affinity to the bugs. Google for more info..

  • cooncats

    Chasing cars is OK but please try to break her from chasing motos, thanks (see avatar).

    Deet 40 works for me and I’m also one of those people the skeeters love. My wife says it is because they get a drink of strong alcohol with every meal.

    I bring 12 cans of it back every year when I drive to the U.S.

  • christine

    I’m sure you will find a new captured tourist woman in a few years when this one dies of cancer. She should move out on you. Not only are you dishonest, you are dangerous to her life.

  • Dan Tucker

    Wow, Paul Clark is right — a lot of anal responses below. Lighten up, people, good grief! Another great piece, Bodie, hope you ignore the anal haters. My dad always said I had a warped sense of humor. I´m an old gringo married to a younger Mexican national and I like your name for your wife. Trying to think of a good moniker for mine. . . . any ideas? – in your free time, of course. . . .