Pest Busters
by Yvonne Seng for Digital Living Today

Aah, the smells of summer: coconut oil, ribs on the grill, barbecue sauce, and -- citronella. No matter how much you resort to lotions and sprays, those killer mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums and nasty black flies still find that tender chunk of your precious flesh you didn't cover. If summer has you wondering where you fit on the food chain, DLT has found some hi-tech anti-pest weaponry that should help keep you from slapping yourself silly.

Ultrasonics are leading the charge in the war on pests. Apparently the wavelength -- inaudible to humans -- drives the little buggers crazy. If you live in a zone where your bug zapper gets more action than Hugh Hefner (and you find yourself taking sadistic glee in each pest electrocution),try one of these insect controllers before you lose your sanity (and scratch yourself to death). Gadget Universe has a portable Mosquito Control Repeller that can be worn on your wrist or ankle ($29.95), as well as an indoor plug-in model ($19.95).

For you urban cliff dwellers who want to control those pests that came with your lease, ultrasonic busters may be just the thing. A variety of multi-purpose repellers now target the bats, bugs, rodents, fleas and spiders that the last tenants left for you to fend off. Langenbach's Pest Contro uses electromagnetic pulses and adjustable alternating ultrasonic waves to effectively drive out these nasties and discourages their return ($59.95). For some high-tech pest bustin' excitement, try Brookstone's Ultrasonic Pest Deterrent with xenon strobe, timer and motion detector ($99, at Brookstone) or Gadget Universe's less flashy model ($49.95). For garages and storerooms, Frontgate carries a smooth-looking repeller that detects rodents up to 30 feet away and has a blast range of some 5,000 square feet ($79 at Frontgate).

A serious outdoor alternative to ultrasonics is the Mosquito Magnet ($695 ). About the size of your gas grill, this major piece of hardware is a rocket scientist's (or sadist's) dream. It converts propane gas to heat, moisture and most importantly, carbon dioxide, which the little buggers can't resist. The mosquitoes are drawn to the CO2 and vacuumed into a disposable net where they dehydrate.

There are a few other pests we should mention. Fido may be your neighbor's best friend, but you're tired of him fouling your little patch o' green. Brookstone has a motion-activated sprinkler that detects animals up to 35 feet away and blasts them with 3-second bursts of water ($110). Although some water dogs (e.g. labs and retrievers) may find this device little more than a new play toy, the sprinkler can also be used to discourage deer,rabbits and raccoons that wander into your paradise. And if howling and barking are a problem, Langenbach has a deterrent that's just the right wavelength. The Bark-Free ($69.95 ) activates with the first sound of a canine yodel and sends an ultrasonic burst that says no-no to Fido. Langenbach says they can't keep these humane dog muzzles on the shelves.

DLT can't guarantee the effectiveness of any of these devices, but they sure beat bathing in DEET. Just remember that these pest weapons are to be used as safe, environmentally sound alternatives to chemicals and traps. They are not (I repeat), they are not for entertainment purposes. [Cue sound of maniacal laughter as bug zapper zzzits away in the background].

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