World Orienteering Championships choose Bug Soother for huge volunteer army

Willie Petrie with his natural midge repellent, Bug Soother
Willie Petrie with his natural midge repellent, Bug Soother. 

A Forres man has become the only person in the UK with a license to sell an American-made insect repellent which has been flying off the shelves stateside.

And he has now been invited to supply hundreds of bottles of the potion for the World Orienteering Championships which will take place in the Highlands and Moray from July 31.

Willie Petrie, who lives in Pluscarden just outside Forres believes the Bug Soother product holds the magic formula to repelling many insects but in particular the dreaded midge which has been the scourge of the region (Highlands and Moray) for centuries.

Midge problem sorted

The midge is one of the north’s biggest problems in the summertime and fending off their ferocious fangs can seem like an impossible task especially as there are over 30 different types of the hungry creature in Scotland alone.

The 50-year-old who sells the product online, at trade fairs and in a number of local hardware and sporting outlets said he was delighted to be involved in the orienteering which will see thousands of competitors flock to the region for the week-long event.

He said: “I am so pleased to be supplying the athletes and marshals with this product. They are definitely going to come face to face with the bugs and beasties up in Glen Affric and around Darnaway in Moray, but I have no doubt that Bug Soother will go a long way to protecting them.

“I started selling Bug Soother in April and it’s great to already have a platform like this to really give it a boost.”

Chance encounter

Willie whose background is design at the Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London and until 2012 ran his Highland Timber Buildings business found out about the product by chance as he explained: “It was purely by accident that I discovered it,” said Willie who lives with his wife and three children  “I was online reading a completely unrelated business article and spotted a story about Bug Soother and how it had been a success and had completely sold out. The article said the creators couldn’t make it quick enough and that demand had outstripped supply.

“I just thought that given we live in Scotland which is known for its bugs and midges I would see if they wanted a distributor. Initially, when I rang the couple who have created it, they said no. However, after two years or so of being persistent they finally agreed.”

Bug Soother was made by Simply Soothing a family-owned business in Iowa by the banks of the Mississippi and what Willie loves about it, is that it is all natural.

“There are no chemicals in it. It’s made with lemon grass, vanilla, castor oil, soya lecithin, lemon, vitamin E and purified water. It’s sold in a spray but goes on like a lotion. It was made by Freda Sojka who wanted to create something for her five-month-old grandson. It was an overnight success and last year they sold 600,000 bottles.”

He added: “As has been shown in the States because the product is non greasy, contains no harmful chemicals at all and smells great it can be used for a whole variety of outdoor activities from horse riding to fishing and golf.  I am certain it will repeat its success over here.”