Atlanta is the worst city in the U.S. for mosquitos, followed by Dallas-Forth Worth in Texas and New York City. (Jeffrey Arguedas/EFE/Zuma Press)

Atlanta is the worst city in the U.S. for mosquitos, followed by Dallas-Forth Worth in Texas and New York City. (Jeffrey Arguedas/EFE/Zuma Press)

Mosquito welts be gone: Mom sells device that deadens bites

It doesn’t prevent the insects from biting you, but stops the bite from turning into an itchy welt.

  • Tuesday, July 31, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

By Ellie Rushing / Sun Sentinel

Each summer Kelley Higney would dread the return of the pesky mosquito.

The California native couldn’t stand the bites any longer and decided to do something about it. The result: the “Bug Bite Thing,” a small device that doesn’t prevent the insects from biting you, but stops the bite from developing into an ugly welt.

“It’s really personal for me because I was the one suffering. There was nothing I could do for my child, and I was tired of it,” said Higney, founder of The Bug Bite Thing.

It acts like a reverse syringe, sucking out the saliva of the mosquito or the poison of a wasp before the skin has a chance to react and become inflamed. The poison is stored in the top of the device, which can be removed, cleaned out and reused.

It was clinically tested by Dr. Lotte Søgaard-Andersen of University of Southern Denmark for wasps, bees and red ants, she said. The side handles can be flipped to be a stinger scraper, so it can remove stingers and splinters stuck in the skin, she said.

“It’s completely reusable and never expires. It’s small, so you can throw it in your purse or glove box, and it’s not going to melt like creams do,” she said.

Higney’s device was originally created by a doctor in Europe 20 years ago, who transferred the product rights to Higney’s distributor in Denmark, which has the molds and produces the devices before shipping them to the U.S.

It only has enough suction for a bug bite, compared to Sawyer’s Extractor Pump, a similar device that works on snake bites.

The Bug Bite Thing cannot prevent any diseases such as the Zika virus spread by the pests, Higney said. “There is not any testing done as of now. We treat this as a first-aid tool, to give relief from the symptoms of a bite or sting, not to cure anything.”

The product launched a year ago and costs less than $10. It’s now being sold online by Walmart and Home Depot, which Higney arranged. She said she is setting up product placements in CVS stores for next season.

Higney, who operates the business out of her home, said most sales are online and that Florida, Texas, North Carolina and New York are the top destinations for the product. Distribution is also beginning in Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

Higney said that one problem is consumer skepticism. “U.S. residents only know topical relief. Now that we’re introducing a new concept with suctioning out the irritant to avoiding the problem all together, there is skepticism.”

This is why she offers a 100 percent money back guarantee. “There’s no risk. I just want people to try it and realize the benefits.”

The product has four-star reviews on Amazon, with one consumer writing: “I found this on a random ad and thought, ‘there’s no way this will work.’ Boy was I wrong! How has no one thought of this before?”

Just this season, she said she’s sold around 30,000 devices. Her largest customer? Grandmas.

“I was expecting moms to be the largest customer, but grandparents actually are. They buy it and try it on their kids and grandkids, and then those families buy it after,” she said.

“The feedback from customers is really great. It’s awesome seeing people who have suffered for so long … are finally getting relief.”

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