Beyond citronella: insect-repellent clothing

Mosquitoes have arrived in force, and gardeners need hands-free defenses. (Give a bug the brushoff when your paws are caked with soil and you'll look as though you just slid into second.)

There's always DEET, or an herbal mist (try catnip extract), or the old citronella ring of fire. Another solution: insect-repellent-infused clothing. Mumz, the latest entry, uses permethrin, a man-made version of a natural repellent that it says can also be found in dried chrysanthemum petals.

We tested a long-sleeved chambray shirt ($49), baseball cap ($17), and canvas gloves ($18). (All can be ordered from exofficio.com; the line is stocked at Orvis stores, some nurseries, and hardware stores.) Mumz also makes bandanas, pants, and socks.

Hard-core testers slide arms into swarm-filled boxes. We settled for an herb garden 30 feet from a row of hemlocks, at dusk. The winged nemeses came in hard when a T-shirt and shorts were the only dissuaders. In seconds we registered forearm landings and earlobe hoverers. Worst bites: tops of the feet (no excuses; we garden in bare feet).

Five minutes later we were back with footwear and Mumz attire. We pinched dead leaves from a tomato plant for five minutes unmolested. One mosquito came in below the hat brim before veering off. A reflexive swipe at another dirtied a sleeve, but Mumz says effectiveness lasts through at least 25 washings, or a couple of gardening seasons.

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