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Thermacell Mosquito Repellent.

Thermacell's mosquito repellent device lets you ditch the DEET.

How it works

If you're used to lighting up a barbecue, the Thermacell is a cinch. Novices like me, however, should read the instructions carefully. Make sure the device is turned off, then twist the enclosed butane cartridge into the base, then slide a tiny blue mat under its grill. (The mat's soaked with allerthin, a household insecticide that, when heated, emits repellant vapours.) Next, turn the dial to "on" and push the starter button (it takes me three tries), until a light lets you know the Thermacell is working. Allerthin is not as natural as a citronella candle, but on a buggy evening when I place it a few feet away and out of the wind, and I can't smell a thing. After about 20 minutes, the immediate area is completely clear of airborne pests.

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Pros and cons

It repels bugs for up to four hours before you have to replace the mat (once is turns white, you'll know its time to change). While you can move the device around, its metal grill gets very hot, very quickly. Handle with care, especially around children. It's best suited for road trips, since butane cartridges are strictly verboten in carry-on and checked luggage.

Final verdict

Spare yourself the bites and the smelly bug sprays. The butane cartridges last up to 12 hours, so stock up before you head off on your trip. $26.99 (U.S.); thermacell.com

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