Forget insect repellent: Just paint yourself with stripes!


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

It may not feel like summer yet, but hey, it’s only a few months away. You know, “those days of soda and pretzels and bugs.” With apologies to the great Nat King Cole, I personally have more trouble with bugs than beer. Flying insects just make life oh-so-miserable.

What’s a person to do? Most of us slather on the insect repellent. Yes, I know there’s a cadre of Avon supporters who swear by liberal applications of “Skin So Soft,” but I dunno, it seems to me the poor bugs drown in the stuff – and somehow, I suspect that the Humane Society might have raised eyebrows about the mistreatment of the class insecta.

What’s left? No doubt, the ever-popular insect repellents containing DEET. But according to an article from the Washington Post, “A 2013 analysis of about 4,000 DEET-related calls to poison control centers found that 450 people needed medical treatment after applying DEET; two died. Most cases of seizures, slurred speech, coma and other serious side effects have occurred in people who ingested DEET or applied it for three or more days in a row, or used products with 95 percent DEET or more.”

Avon’s out. DEET’s out. What’s left? Here’s the latest scientific suggestion: Body paint. Now here’s a way to cut costs on expensive swimwear – bypass those spendy Speedos and swimwear from the Victoria’s Secret catalog: Just get somebody to outfit your epidermis in zebra stripes.

Mannequin photo: Gabor Horvath

An article posted by reported that researchers in Hungary took mannequins and painted one beige, one dark brown and another dark brown with white stripes. The trio was then “finished off” with a nice coating of glue and left out in a summer meadow. Results? The number of horseflies stuck on the striped test dummy were far less than those on the beige model, and the poor unstriped brown test subject had ten times the number as the striped one!

Oh, and they checked the sex of the marauding flies, too. The dummies when left lying prone on the ground were attacked by both male and female horseflies, but standing mannequins were only bit by female horseflies. This might have some bearing on those who like lying around in meadows or on beaches; but don’t forget, female biting insects are generally after your blood.

So here’s the drill. Make yourself naked, then get help from a friend who promises not to laugh while applying liberal coats of paint in a striped pattern. You may now proceed to the great outdoors with high expectations. Of what? Fewer bug bites – yes. And in some localities – a citation for public indecency.

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Just remember, only females bite. You have never been bitten by a male mosquito, horse-fly, or greenhead fly. The females need blood for their egg production. They may have had males stuck to the glue, but they weren’t biting. Look it up.

rick louderbough

Get the non sticky electrical tape and start at each ankle and go up. Stripes can be dense or not your choice.


Here’s the DIY solution for those of us who like to do things ourselves….cut up an old window blind, the kind with the strips. Attach strips to self with double sided tape (the kind used for photo albums). Lay in the sun for a few hours and Voi la! (You may need a little help getting your back).
No toxic paint and lasts for days!

Gene Bjerke

The reason Indians (at least Virginia Indians) wore paint was to minimize bug bites. Not a new idea at all.


Russ and Tina. Thank you for one of the best comedy bits I have read in a long time. I am still laughing.

Brendan James Walsh

I’ll take the DEET. With my size, if painted with stripes, I’ll look more like a railroad crossing!