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Posted: Tuesday, August 01, 2000

You could say Alaska's mosquitoes made an impression.

Ryan Stagg, 27, is a former resident of Juneau and the designer of the new BugButton, which uses natural oils to repel numerous types of insects. Marketed by Evergreen Research, the circular yellow button has already made an impact on the market.

``We sold over 30 million of them,'' Stagg said. ``It's beyond my wildest dreams.''

Stagg's parents, Wayne and Sue, brought him to Juneau as a child. He attended Auke Bay Elementary School and remembers ``lots of fishing, lots of bugs and very cold winters.''

The family eventually moved to Santa Barbara, Calif.; Stagg graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a degree in chemistry and began work at Evergreen, where he was assigned the job of finding a natural insect repellent.

College buddies helped him test more than 167 different types of formulations, plunging their arms into test vats of mosquitoes. The winning combination was Indonesian lemongrass oil, Philippine geranium oil and citronella oil. The blend is injected into the polymers of the plastic button, which can be pinned to a hat or shirt for a comfortable 2-foot cushion of space.

``Being a lifetime fisherman, it's great,'' Stagg said. ``I used to hate putting that greasy stuff on me. It was just really nasty.''

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