WATERTOWN, Minn. - For many years companies have been testing their products during the coldest climates of a Minnesota winter.
This summer, some researchers are using the state as a laboratory for a much different experiment.
They were monitoring mosquito bites.
Brave research volunteers were covered head to toe Saturday because lurking in the woods behind Watertown High School is a relentless army of mosquitoes.
Tom Perry of Little Canada said, "They're coming after me. They're coming after me a lot."
He and Mackayne Tulgren of Forest Lake were in the woods waiting for mosquitoes to land. She said, "We are awaiting a mosquito because we are the control so we do not have repellant on us."
Armed with bug vacuums, they didn't wait for the mosquitoes to bite. They just sucked them into the vacuum. The rest of the volunteers also had an arm exposed but coated with a bug repellent containing picaridin.
Trevor Fowles, a California researcher, said, "We're seeing how many hours it takes until their repellant wears off."
Picaridin is already an active ingredient in some repellents sold in stores. Studies have shown it to be safe.
Scott Carroll of Carroll-Loye Biological Research in California said, "The objective of the test is to enhance the data set the amount of info we have about the performance of picaridin based repellants."
There is data from the West Coast but Carroll said regulatory officials in Canada and the U.S. also want it from the north. Carroll said, "It's a whole different set of mosquitoes."
There are mosquitoes across the United States and Carroll said it's impossible to tell which state has the most. The reason he chose Minnesota is because, "Minnesota is the Land of Lakes, and like other Minnesotans, mosquitoes love lakes."
The volunteers, who were paid to offer their arms to mosquitoes, were taken out into the woods every 15 minutes where their arms were then monitored for a minute.
After about five hours, Chelsea Tulgren of Forest Lake said, "So far it's extremely effective."
When volunteers were not risking a bug bite, they were in a tent playing Risk.
Carroll said, "So it's kind of like an unusual kind of picnic."
But the party had to end sometime when the mosquitoes moved in.
Carroll said, "At some point so many molecules will have evaporated that the attraction will overcome the repulsion and they'll start to land."
And the fun is gone when the repellant wears off.
Mosquitoes in the bug vacuums will be sent to California to be tested for diseases but the participants tried to capture all mosquitoes that landed before they actually drew blood.
As of mid-afternoon Saturday the repellant had worked for 8 hours but final results were not available.
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