The gnats started eating me alive just as soon as I got out of my truck to meet Scott Walker at the boat ramp beside Bush Canal off LA 56 between Chauvin and Cocodrie. As I jumped into his boat, I noticed that Walker wasn't swatting at the air the same way I was.

He tossed me a small pump bottle and told me to squirt it on my hands. I did, and the gnats immediately stopped biting me. They still hovered around my hand, and they still bit me around my wrist, but they didn't dare get too close to the part of my hand I had just sprayed.

"It's called Swamp Swatter Natural Vanilla Gnat Relief Spray," Walker told me. "I don't know what's in it, but it sure does work — also makes you smell good."

I couldn't help but agree on all points, and after years of squirting just about everything possible on me to keep the gnats at bay, I found myself wanting to pocket the bottle Walker had just given me rather than give it back.

"In February of last year, I took my nephew fishing out to the Rigolets by Slidell," said Swamp Swatter creator Joe Dunaway. "It was just hot enough for the gnats to start moving, but we didn't have a drop of anything to spray on us.

"I still have purple marks on my legs from that episode, and I swore I would never get eaten up by gnats again."

Dunaway started playing around with some different concoctions in his kitchen, and a particular combination of some essential oils along with some natural and artificial food-grade ingredients finally achieved the results he was looking for.

"About the time I got it where I wanted it, I was laid off from my job," Dunaway said. "I was tired of putting in resumes and trying to find a job, and I thought if it worked for me I would try putting it in a bottle to see if it would sell."

Currently, Swamp Swatter can be found in several locations across South Louisiana. You can find it in Rigolets Marina, Gus's Bait and Tackle, J.E.S. Tackle and Pontchartrain Hardware in Slidell. In Leeville, look for it at Terry's Live Bait, Griffin's Marina, Tyds and Bobby Lynn's Marina.

At Galliano, you can find it at Renovation Ace Hardware, Kief Hardware and First Cast. Swamp Swatter can also be found at P Maw's Bait Shack in Denham Springs, Outdoor Express in Boutte and Jean Freaux's Hardware in Belle Chase. If you're in Lafitte, try Joe's Landing and C-Way Marina.

"Besides the Swamp Swatter spray, we've also got it in a sunscreen we call Gator HIDE," Dunaway said. "And if you want it in a lotion form while still being able to get a tan, we've got it mixed with aloe in a product we call Aleaux Gator."

Dunaway recommended applying Swamp Swatter to exposed skin and reapplying as necessary. He's found that one spray in the morning keeps the gnats away all day long. But if you're doing activities in or around the water, Dunaway recommended reapplying if you notice the gnats starting to bite again.

Swamp Swatter Natural Vanilla Gnat Relief Spray does not contain DEET or insecticides, and is currently available in a one-ounce pump spray plastic bottle and a 0.33-ounce pen-pump spray with a clip. Both retail for around $5.

For more information, email Dunaway at or call 225-226-2622.

This article is part of the Full tanks, full coolers feature in the June issue of Louisiana Sportsman. Digital editions can be downloaded right to your computer or smartphone.

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