Insect Repellent Clothing For Africa

Page Updated: Feb 2021

Do you really need an insect repellent clothing for hunting in Africa?

Insect repellent clothing are an extra level of protection from biting insects which may be useful for hunting particularly in malarial areas, thick bush, swamps and rainforests or if you are generally very attractive to insects or get bad bite reactions.

Insect repellent clothing can do the job in one of two ways...

  • Garments made with material impregnated with an insect repellent such as permethrin OR
  • Garments constructed with mesh to create a physical barrier against insects, which may or may not be impregnated with insect repellent.

Proprietary Brand Clothing Pre-Treated With Permethrin

Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide which kills insects if they ingest it and an insect repellent which deters insects from landing on you before biting. Read more on insect repellents for Africa.

The most common proprietary brands of insect repellent used in the manufacture of adventure clothing are Insect Shield and Nosilife.. However more companies are getting into the market as insect repellent and fabric bonding technology advances.

They both work in much the same way - bonding a permethrin formula to the garment fibres which mask the human odours that are so attractive to insects. The pre-treated garments are odourless and protect against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and flies. They are said to 'permanently' retain the repellent properties at least for 70 wash cycles or the natural life of the garment. Just do not dry clean the item.

Bear in mind only the skin surface covered with the permethrin-treated clothing is protected from insects. Other exposed parts of the body need a skin applied insect repellent for more complete protection.

Mosquito Sandfly


But What About The Tsetse Fly?

You are out of luck here...No insecticide or repellent, on clothes or not, seem to work to reliably deter the tsetse fly and nothing has changed since this 1989 study Evaluations of permethrin-impregnated clothing and three topical repellent formulations of deet against tsetse flies in Zambia. So the best that can be expected from permethrin impregnated clothing is 34% reduction of tsetse fly bites for the untreated and exposed skin of head and hands.

When the tsetse flies are really bad, only olive-coloured, permethrin-treated mesh over-garments reduced the tsetse biting rate by 75%. (See above study).

Tsetse Fly

Permethrin-Impregnated Insect Repellent Clothes For African Hunting?

  • So if you are a 'mosquito-magnet' or have always been particularly bothered by insects, you may find some relief by wearing insect repellent clothing.
  • Wearing all your insect repellent clothing in the evening is recommended for mosquito protection and wearing insect repellent pants and socks while out hunting should do the job for ticks. Just one word of caution on some brand name insect repellent pants - many of them are made of synthetic fabric which can be noisy when you are trying to stalk quietly. Most hunters prefer to wear cotton garments so may like to pre-treat their clothes with a permethrin spray or soaking solution.
  • Also these types of synthetic garments must not be ironed because the fabric will melt. Make sure the laundry person in your camp knows this because just about every item of clothing in Africa gets ironed. Why? Read more...
  • Certainly, insect repellent clothing is a very good idea if you are going to hunt in a malarial area of Africa and want to take a 'belt and braces' approach to your anti-insect bite precautions.

All Insect Repellent Clothing

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