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This $10 Bug Bite Treatment Changed My Life, Helped Me Accept My Mosquito Overlords

This Changed My Life is an ode to the small, seemingly chill purchases bought by Autostraddle writers and editors this year that made our lives infinitely better. Did these items LITERALLY CHANGE OUR LIFE? No, we’re being gay and dramatic. But perhaps a pair of sunglasses really did change your life — who are we to judge?


the Bug Bite Thing, a white plastic suction tool used for bug bites

I learned the hard way that I am The Person Mosquitos Are Obsessed With when I moved to Florida. You would think I’d always known this about myself, and I suppose thinking back on my life, I’ve always been one to get a mosquito bite here and there on a muggy summer evening. But the mosquito situation in the swamplands of central Florida is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. They. Are. Everywhere. And normally, as a Gemini, I love to be the object of obsession, but not when that obsession is coming from the vampires of the sky!!!!!!!! The best way to make sure you don’t get eaten alive by little flying bugs? Sit next to me, apparently!!!!!!

I will sometimes just be minding my business in my backyard and then find myself covered in giant welts — everything insect-related here in Florida tends to be bigger than anything I’ve encountered elsewhere, whether we’re talking the gargantuan palmetto bugs that shock me to my core with their fortitude every time or the sheer size of mosquito bites. 

I’ve tried everything to curb these attacks. We have bite fighter-fueled tiki torches, including a tabletop version. We have giant five-wick citronella candles. I’ve worn the little coily bug-repellent bracelet things that I think are intended for children. We have bottles and bottles of bug spray, but I can’t seem to find a version that doesn’t feel awful on my skin. Any “natural” or “organic” brands don’t seem to work for me. My favorite spray I’ve found is the Off Smooth & Dry, and I’ll wear it on a particularly mosquito-filled night, but even with it on, they usually find the one tiny place I missed and get me there, so is it really worth the hit to my skin and making all my clothes smell like deet if they’re still gonna bite me anyway?!

Nay, I have come to accept that instead of merely fighting the mosquitos, I must instead accept their power and therefore my fate. And it has all come down to this stupid little piece of plastic called, literally, the Bug Bite Thing. It’s a $10 suction tool that, when used shortly after the bite occurs, provides instant relief by removing the root cause of the irritation. In the case of mosquito bites, this means removing the mosquito saliva, which is what’s actually making you itch. Yes, mosquitos are spitting on you when they suck your blood!!!!!! Kinky little bitches!!!!!

The Bug Bite Thing definitely works best if you catch the bite quickly. I keep mine in the junk drawer near the door to my backyard so I can grab it easily when I know I’m going to be outside for a while. I usually have my fiancé Kristen use it on me for the hard-to-reach spots — hot! (And yes, a product of frequently wearing skirts and dresses is getting bit ON MY ASS. Again, mosquitos are kinky.) I hear they also can work on wasp stings and other insect bites, but I thankfully haven’t had to put that to the test yet.

I’ve used other forms of bug bite relief in the past, like roll-ons and sprays, but they’re messy and can be really drying of skin much like bug spray, and the Bug Bite Thing doesn’t leave anything behind. Plus, I find the sensation satisfying tbh, which provides an even greater distraction from the nuisance of blood-thirsty bugs ruining my life.

I’ll continue to do my preventative things like torches and candles and all citronella everything, but I’ve accepted that I can’t win all my battles against mosquitos. I’ll leave that job to spiders, nature’s heroes for fighting the brave fight against Culicidae.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 814 articles for us.

24 Comments

  1. (I promise this is not spam!)

    My spouse swears by this stuff that they learned about from a Japanese ex: https://www.yamibuy.com/en/p/value-pack-muhi-mopidick-s-itch-relief-lotion-for-insect-bites-rash-and-eczema-50ml-2/1028338981?scene=item_detail&bu_type=brand&module_name=brand_best&index=1&content=1028338981&main_item=3028218321&source_type=enter_item_detail&track=brand-itempage-1-1028338981

    Or in a smaller version (that they swear is more powerful but who knows): https://www.yamibuy.com/en/p/hello-kitty-limited-edition-portable-itching-liquid-anti-mosquito-bites-liquid-15ml/3028218321?scene=cart_main&module_name=cart_main&index=1&track=shopping_cart-cart-1-3028218321

    It’s by a company called Muhi. I’ve occasionally found it in a local Japanese specialty grocery store if I look really hard. Good luck!

  2. Picaridin for skin and permethrin for clothes! I am fortunate enough to live in a dry place, but I also take outdoorsy trips to places where there are loads of mosquitos. I do a permethrin soak of any clothes I’ll wear frequently, which lasts up to six washes or so, and then picaridin for any exposed areas.

    I am also the one that bugs love to bite, and whose bites always turn into massive welts, but this has worked really well for preventing bites. As a bonus, the picaridin creams are way better sensory-wise for me. I like the Sawyer one a lot! Ymmv.

    Soaking all of your clothes is probably not a realistic technique, but I think if I lived somewhere like Florida, I would soak a bunch of my top layers periodically to have the double protection of physical and chemical barriers. Permethrin is dangerous to the touch when wet, but I just do the soak in trash bags and hang everything on a laundry rack in the garage while it dries to keep it away from neighbor kids and pets.

    • This is a good strategy and it sounds like you’re using excellent safety precautions!

      As a veterinarian, I just wanted to put out a quick PSA for pet owners re: permethrin, in case some ‘straddlers want to try your technique.

      Permethrin is safe for dogs (it’s a common ingredient in topical flea/tick preventatives). I wouldn’t go dunking your dog in a clothing spray or anything, but they would likely be fine.

      Permethrin is VERY toxic to cats. Tremors, seizures, rarely death. I’ve seen cats with permethrin toxicity just from rubbing up against their dog friend before the dog’s topical product has dried.

      The clothing treatment is much lower concentration then the dog products, so it’s less likely to result in a twitchy kitty, but I would still be super careful. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing permethrin-treated clothes around my cats even if the product has dried (but that’s probably based more on my anxiety vs fact).

      If any known exposure, bathe your cat thoroughly with dish soap if possible (and yes I know how much fun that’s likely to be… 😬). And then call your vet. Or if you see any symptoms, head to the nearest ER vet clinic. Prognosis is excellent as long as treatment is initiated before seizures get bad.

      This concludes the PSA from your local overly-paranoid queer veterinarian! 😸

  3. I’ve seen this but been skeptical! I’ll have to try it. I too have utterly given up on preventative measures. Even when I used a spray with so much deet it MELTED MY NAIL POLISH OFF, they weren’t repelled.

    I’d been using a sort of chapstick-applicator itch remedy but I lost it and can’t remember what it’s called.

    • it has absolutely been working for me, and I’m the kind of person who gets REALLY BIG welts when i’m bit. it def works best when used almost immediately! i got it because my sister has the same problem and was swearing by it, and then i was kicking myself for not getting it sooner lol. my sister liked saying “told u so”

  4. I use a heat pen (from Target). It works similarly to the Bite Thug, except it uses intense heat to get rid of the bite effects.

    I’ve also heard numerous recommendations for Avon Skin So Soft, but as a fellow mosquito attracter, I embrace my excuse to stay in the great cool indoors during the summer months.

  5. I saw the picture and grinned. My sister found these, we get bitten by absolutely everything and before now the best I could do was grind up an antihistamine and make a paste. It worked but this is better. Not just mosquitoes, spider bites are a big one for me, anything that leaves an itchy red mark. Though it’s more effective if you get to things quickly and sometimes my spider bites take longer to react. I have one by my couch and one in my purse.

  6. ok fiancé just ordered me some new anti-mosquito incense sticks that apparently are supposed to work really well???? WATCH THIS SPACE lol i do feel like i could do an entire column on florida pest control

  7. I was gifted 3 of these by 3 diff friends because mosquitos LOVE me. They don’t work and have all pretty much come apart. Avon skin so soft whether it be the OG oil or bug repellent is guaranteed every time I use. I’ve gone to the jungles in costa rica, nicaragu, puerto rico for months working from there and nevwr had a problem

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