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Skeeter Skidaddler repellent, a Maine product, will keep you safe

posted Jun 21, 2017, 5:11 AM by Joseph Bickard

Allen Pollock has always had bad reactions to insect bites. It started when he was a boy growing up in San Jose, California, and by the time he was an adult and had moved east, he was adjusting his lifestyle to avoid the problem, hiking only in early spring and fall when the bugs aren’t as fierce. He didn’t like to wear netting, nor did he care for any of the insect repellents on the market.

Then in 2007, he and his wife, who own Gentle Breeze Farm in Windham, decided to help others in the community start a farmers market. The more he was growing at the farm, the more he was dealing with the biting insect issue. He decided to make his own bug repellent.

Pollock didn’t want to use DEET, and while most organic insect sprays contain citronella, it is “not a good repellent,” he said. He started researching essential oils and eventually came up with a formula that appeared to work against most flying, biting insects. His original version used cedarwood, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass and patchouli in a base of Maine-grown, organic sunflower oil instead of water. Using water, Pollock said, would have required adding preservatives and emulsifiers. Pollock bottled the repellent to sell at the farmers market, and called it “Skeeter Skidaddler.”

“I sold 85 bottles that first year,” Pollock said. “People kept coming back and buying two. It was working very well for me. I sent some to my brother up in Vermont, in the Northeast Kingdom, and he said ‘This really works.’ It’s very buggy up there.”

In his second year, he developed a new formulation, “and it just took off.” By the third year, Pollock had sold 190 bottles and people began urging him to market the stuff. Skeeter Skidaddler now sells retail for $9.95-$11.95 per bottle.

“You don’t coat yourself with it, it’s more of a fragrancing-type application,” Pollock said. “One bottle has about 2.7 fluid ounces, and you get 75-100 applications, each lasting 3 to 6 hours, depending on how warm it is and how much insect pressure you’ve got out there.”

Pollock also makes a cedarwood-free version for pets (cedarwood is toxic for some dogs) and an equine version.

Skeeter Skidaddler is sold at the Portland Food Co-op, the Cabot Farmers’ Annex and the Blue Lobster in Portland’s Old Port, and Broadway Gardens in South Portland. For more locations, go to tremblingleaf.com.