In the central Texas, mosquitoes are a year-round problem. We have those tiny Asian Tiger mosquitoes that love shade, hit quick, and bite hard. When the weather is nice, we love to sit outside at night in our live oak-shaded back yard and chat, drink iced tea, and occasionally toss a ball for the dogs. But most nights, the mosquitoes drive us inside after only a few minutes. What can we do to take back our yard? Get a Thermacell Repellent Camp Lantern!
I recruited my partner to help me test this product. As the resident Mosquito Magnet, she can attract mosquitoes from miles away. They just love her.
We timed some of our tests to occur at dusk on days it rained sometime during the day, so that the mosquitoes would be really active. The Mosquito Magnet sacrificed herself to make sure there were mosquitoes in the area before we brought out the lantern.
The lantern works in a similar fashion to the handheld version expertly reviewed by Kathleen Chapman. A butane heater warms a repellent-saturated mat, which then releases the repellent into the air. The repellent, a synthetic copy of a substance found in chrysanthemum flowers, diffuses into an approximately 15 x 15-foot area. The lantern gets hot near the mat, so be careful when coming near the top.
The first time, we put the lantern out right at the same time we went out to sit. You’re supposed to set outside 10-30 minutes before you want to go out, to drive all the mosquitoes away. That test resulted in a few mosquitoes getting through. However, because it was mostly our fault, we’ll still call it a success.
The second time, we put it outside ahead of time, as instructed. No mosquitoes made it through the shield. My partner also tested it while gardening and while mowing the lawn, with great no-bite results. We tested it close-up and from around 10 feet away and found it worked just fine at either distance.
The lantern is pretty easy to use. Screw the butane cartridge into the inside of the top of the lantern. Slip the mat into the slot on top of the lantern. To light the butane, lift the folding handle to unlock the top ring on the lantern and turn the top ring from Off to On. From there, quickly click the ring from On to Start to ignite the burner. You can peek through the little hole on the top ring to see whether heater started. If you see orange, you’re good to go.
The repellent mat changes color from blue to white as the repellent is used up. In our tests, it lasted more than four hours. When I took out to check it, the mat was white only in the middle had continued to repel insects. At that time, the butane cartridge was approximately half full.
The lantern came with one cartridge and three mats, and the company recommends that the repellent mats be replaced after 4 hours of use. The butane cartridges are rated to last up to 12 hours each.
The lantern has a folding handle, so that you can carry it around or hang it nearby. It also has a built-in carabiner on the bottom, in case you want to hang it on a line.
The LED lantern runs off of 4 D-cell batteries, which are not included. The lantern is rated for 50 hours of use on the brightest setting, and the battery life indicator turns from blue to orange to red as power drains.
The lantern stayed on at its brightest setting on for 26 hours before the indicator turned orange, and another 22 hours before it turned red. After a couple of hours at red, the light finally gave up. We were extremely impressed that it lasted so long.
The lantern’s light has three different brightness modes and an emergency mode that flashes in a Morse Code S-O-S pattern, in case you need to get someone’s attention. At its highest setting, the brightness is similar to a campfire, but not quite bright enough to read by.
The lantern is also water repellant and has a heavy duty rubberized base. With four D-cell batteries in it, it’s quite hefty, so it’s not going to go anywhere if a wind comes up. You can use the lantern separately from the mosquito repellent.
One refill includes 3 mats and 1 cartridge for $6.99. This refill provides a total of up to 12 hours of repellency. The only down side to this product is that the butane cartridge isn’t refillable. You have to buy a new cartridge whenever you run out of fuel. Refillable butane tanks have been around for a very long time and are much more ecologically friendly
Eliminating the Itch
By the way, if you do get bit, there is an easy way to eliminate the itching. All you have to do is run a spoon under hot water, and apply the hot spoon to the bite.
The heat kills the proteins from the mosquito’s bite that cause the itching. The heat does not kill any pathogens, though, so you still need to be vigilant against getting bit. Don’t burn yourself. The spoon just needs to be hot enough to touch. (Don’t use this method on young children. They may not be able to tell you whether the spoon is too hot.)
Despite the butane refill issue, both the Mosquito Magnet and I give Thermacell Repellent Camp Lantern huge thumbs up. We plan to continue using the lantern anytime we’re outside.