A dozen years ago, soldiers were issued combat uniforms pretreated with the insecticide permethrin to safeguard them against insect-borne illnesses that posed a threat as great as bullets or bombs.
But, these days, its not only soldiers but the common man who is demanding protection against the deadly mosquitoes.
Tommy Hilfiger markets a line of twill golf shorts and cotton polo shirts treated with permethrin. Ex Officio sells treated gardening aprons, canvas gloves, and socks and L.L. Bean offers insecticide-drenched hats, shirts, and zip-off convertible hiking pants in tropical colors
A synthetic form of the natural repellent found in the chrysanthemum plant, permethrin, is bonded to the fabric to make the garment bite proof. The chemical stuns or kills the bugs by disrupting their nervous systems when they bite something coated with the chemical - or, perhaps, just get close to it.
The protected clothing is said to be effective up to 25 washings.