Bug Off - Tick season is here. Be at the ready with a DEET-free alternative.
(New Canaan Magazine) In the heart of tick country, entrepreneurs Chris Fuentes and Ted Kesten have set their sights on building a better bug spray. This spring their company, The Pic20 Group LLC, started selling and shipping Ranger Ready Repellent out of a former battery factory at 87 Water Street in South Norwalk.
Their spray uses 20 percent picaridin, a synthetic compound that blocks ticks' and insects' ability to perceive your skin as their next meal. The ingredient, which is more widely used in Europe is an alternative to DEET-based products as well as those that use permethrin, which can be applied to clothing but will irritate skin. Picaridin is odorless, doesn't feel oily on skin and won't dissolve plastics or clothing.
After a career in marketing, "I just wanted to shift my attention ... to innovating for better living, making things the next generation can benefit from," says Fuentes, a SoNo resident.
According to Fuentes, repellents are about a $1 billion business in America and growing by 5 to 7 percent a year. Right now, picaridin products make up only about 5 percent, but Fuentes believes well-considered touches including scents like orange and lavender, an innocative bottle design, plus customer education, will help push Ranger into the limelight.
With Lyme disease prevalent in the area and even more dangerous tick-borne diseases like Powassan on the horizon, it's best to be at the ready: "People need to put repellents on in the morning and be prepared to protect themselves for the day, because there really isn't a better option at this point," says Fuentes.
By Liz Anderson Steinke