Published in the April 2009 Issue April 2009

It's sometimes hard to find a good mosquito repellant. Bug spray can be obnoxious to apply. Little kids start screaming, much the same way they do in the bathtub when water touches their faces, when you apply bug spray. I can't really blame them because the spray stings and makes your face tingle like it's going numb. Worst of all, it doesn't seem to take long for the mosquitoes to return. It was surprising, then, when we discovered that the ThermaCELL Mini Lantern really does keep mosquitoes away.

ThermaCELL uses revolutionary, patented technology to dispense a small amount of repellent into the air over a long period of time. ThermaCELL is powered by a butane cartridge that provides the cordless, portable heat necessary to operate the device (batteries are not needed). It directs the heat to a metal grill. A mat saturated with Allethrin, a copy of a naturally occurring insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers, is placed on top of the metal grill. The heat generated by the butane cartridge vaporizes the repellent so it rises into the air, creating a 15- x 15-foot mosquito-free zone in minutes. The repellent is very unpleasant to mosquitoes, but when used as directed, will not harm humans or pets.

The ThermaCELL Mini Lantern, much like the regular-sized ThermaCELL Lantern, repels up to 98 percent of mosquitoes as well as black flies and no-see-ums. The Mini Lantern is just a smaller, cost- effective, compact form five inches or less in size-it fits in the palm of your hand. There are no messy sprays or lotions applied to the skin, and there are no candles, open flame, messy wax or citronella smell either.

When we tried it out, we were really starting to get annoyed at all the bugs. It took us a few minutes to figure out how to work it, but once we did the women with us on the pontoon were soon raving about it. It was like there was an invisible sci-fi force field surrounding us that the mosquitoes wouldn't penetrate.

The down side is that the butane cartridges need to be replaced. However, each cartridge lasts up to 12 hours; each mat lasts up to 4 hours, and the box comes with two mats.

The ThermaCELL Mini Lantern can be purchased for $15.99, and a replacement butane cartridge can be ordered on the ThermaCELL website for $6.99.

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