Entomology and Pest Management
Permethrin Factory-Treated Army Combat Uniforms (ACU Permethrin) 


In order to provide Soldiers with the best possible protection from disease-carrying insects, the Army has introduced a permethrin factory-treated Army Combat Uniform (coats/trousers) known as the ACU Permethrin. Effective October 2012, the ACU Permethrin replaced the non-permethrin ACU in Military Clothing Sales Stores (MCSS). In February 2013, the ACU Permethrin replaced the non-permethrin ACU as an Army Clothing Bag Item. ACUs purchased at MCSS prior to 1 October 2012 will not be returned/exchanged for the ACU Permethrin. In May 2013, the ACU Permethrin was made available to Army National Guard/Army Reserve Enlisted Soldiers, and the Senior/Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. There is no wear-out-date for the non-permethrin ACU.  ACU Permethrin Poster

DoD Insect Repellent SystemWith the introduction of the ACU Permethrin, the Army is providing a product that will enhance Force Health Protection and Readiness. A single factory treatment with permethrin offers significant benefits to the ACU Permethrin wearer including increased protection against the bites of mosquitoes, flies, midges, ticks, and chiggers for the life of the uniform. The ACU Permethrin protects Soldiers from insect-and tick-borne diseases (such as malaria and West Nile virus carried by mosquitoes and Lyme disease carried by ticks), while in garrison, training, and non-combat deployed environments worldwide. Wearing permethrin-treated uniforms is a key component of the DoD Insect Repellent System. Soldiers wearing an ACU Permethrin should continue to properly protect themselves against insect bites and diseases by wearing the uniform with the sleeves rolled down, closing all openings in clothing that might let in insects, tucking pants into boots and undershirt into pants, and keeping the uniform loose. For over 20 years, the DoD Insect Repellent System has been proven to be highly effective in preventing biting insects from becoming an annoyance or making Soldiers sick.


             SAFEArmy Family. Photo credit: PEO Soldier  http://peosoldier.army.mil

  • There are no known adverse health risks associated with wearing the ACU Permethrin.
  • Safety testing of permethrin has been conducted almost continuously since the 1970's, following its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration for use with a variety of applications including food/feed crops, livestock, Public Health mosquito abatement programs, pets, and clothing.
  • After thorough research proving the safety of permethrin, the EPA registered it as an insect repellant for use on clothing, and the US Food and Drug Administration approved it for medical treatments of head lice and scabies.
  • In 2009, the EPA completed the human health and environmental risk assessments for permethrin.  The EPA's review reassessed the potential adverse health effects resulting from wearing permethrin-treated uniforms.  Based upon the best science and studies performed to date, the EPA has determined that wearing or coming in contact with permethrin-treated uniforms is unlikely to cause adverse health effects.


              EFFECTIVESoldier with cat.  Photo credit: PEO Soldier  http://peosoldier.army.mil

  • Army personnel performing daily activities or participating in training and field operations inside the United States and overseas are at risk for insect-borne diseases, some of which may cause long-term health effects or even death.  Uniforms treated with permethrin reduce this risk.
  • Many vector-borne risks exist for service members who do not wear treated uniforms both here in the US and while overseas.  While service members may not always be in a high-risk environment for vector-borne illness or death, having our military members protected prior to entering these environments is critical to mission effectiveness and readiness and is the right thing to do to safeguard the health of Soldiers from these risks.  The risk of mosquito- or tick-borne disease is present in nearly every state.
  • Permethrin repels many species of crawling and flying insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, and flies.
  • Permethrin works as a contact insect repellent.
  • Ticks crawling across the ACU Permethrin will drop off before they are able to attach and feed.
  • Mosquitoes and flies that land on the ACU Permethrin will quickly fall from the fabric and often die from the exposure to the permethrin treatment.
  • Soldiers spend a significant amount of time outdoors, working and training in habitats where they are more likely to be bitten by both disease-bearing and annoying insects.  The Army objective is to provide 90% bite protection for at least 50 launderings; an objective easily met through factory treatment of the ACU Permethrin which demonstrates 99-100% bite protection up to 50 launderings (the expected lifetime of the uniform).


Ticks on ACU that has been treated with permethrin 
Ticks on ACU and link to video on YouTube

Permethrin Effectiveness Video
 Mosquito on ACU and link to video on YouTube
APHC Videos

Soldiers can help protect themselves against tick bites and diseases by wearing their uniforms with the  sleeves rolled down, and closing all openings in clothing that might let in ticks. But without a permethrin-treated uniform, this is only a partially effective technique for preventing tick bites. This video shows how a tick crawling across the ACU Permethrin will die before it is able to find an opening in the fabric to attach to the skin and feed.

Mosquitoes that land on the ACU Permethrin get "hot feet" and will quickly fly away or fall from the fabric, often dying. This video shows a laboratory cage test using adult Aedes spp. mosquitoes. The opening scene illustrates how the mosquitoes land and attempt to bite through the fabric of an untreated ACU. The camera then pans to a sleeve of an ACU Permethrin. Same cage; same horde of mosquitoes. Note that any mosquitoes that land on the ACU Permethrin quickly fly away, not even attempting to bite through the fabric.  



  • The factory-treatment process binds permethrin so tightly to the fabric of the uniform that the Soldier wearing an ACU Permethrin will have protection from arthropod bites through 50 launderings, the expected lifetime of the uniform.
  • The ACU Permethrin eliminates the need for Soldiers to ever think about treating their uniforms.  Factory treatment guarantees that a safe and effective amount of permethrin is precisely applied to each uniform.  This improvement over field applications techniques translates into better protection for every Soldier from insect bites and the diseases they may cause.
  • The ACU Permethrin can be put in the dryer or pressed without affecting the repellency but should not be dry-cleaned.

  • Where the probability of vector-borne disease transmission is
    remote, pregnant and nursing Soldiers, and Soldiers trying to
    get pregnant, are authorized to wear untreated uniforms prior
    to and after the wear of an untreated maternity uniform. 
  • Soldiers must see their Health Care Provider to obtain a
    temporary medical profile exempting the wear of a factory or
    individually-treated permethrin uniform in order to purchase
    and wear a non-permethrin treated uniform.
  • An ACU Permethrin will be worn by Soldiers with this temporary
    medical profile when Commanders deem it necessary
    to reduce the risk of insect-borne hazards while in deployed
    (non-combat) environments such as field training.
  • It is much safer for Soldiers to wear the ACU Permethrin when
    insect-borne diseases (such as Lyme disease) are a risk than
    to contract such diseases while pregnant.  The EPA, Centers for
    Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health
    Organization advocate the use of permethrin-treated clothing to
    protect individuals, even pregnant women and children, who may
    be exposed to insect-borne diseases.

  • Fire-Resistant Army Combat Uniforms (FRACU) that are factory treated with permethrin (called FRACU-P) are a key component of the DoD Insect Repellent System.  The Army began factory-treating both the Universal Camouflage Pattern and the Multicam (OEF camouflage) Pattern with permethrin to provide the best protection for deployed forces.  The Army began issuing FRACU-Ps in July 2010 to deploying Soldiers.  Both the
    FRACU-P trousers and blouse have a sewn-in label stating the garments have been factory-treated with permethrin.  The FRACU-P will protect the wearer against insect bites for the lifetime of the uniform.  The FRACU-P does not require any special laundering, drying, or pressing, but should never be dry-cleaned.  Weather and water do not affect the repellent properties of the FRACU-P.


USAPHC Fact Sheet 18-076-0713, Permethrin Factory-Treated Army Combat Uniforms

USAPHC Fact Sheet 18-078-0713 Permethrin Factory-Treated Army Combat Uniforms FAQs

Permethrin-Treated Uniforms - What It Means To You  (PowerPoint presentation)

Note:  If you are asked for a password, click Cancel.  Open the presentation as a Slide Show.  When the dialog boxes pop-up, click "Enable this content" and then click "I recognize this content.  Allow it to play."     

ACU Permethrin Poster external link

ALARACT 289/2012 Factory Treated Uniforms with Permethrin (ACU Permethrin) (Password protected - AKO) external link

ALARACT 170/2013 Update of ALARACT 289/2012 Factory Treated Uniforms With Permethrin (Password protected - AKO) external link

EPA Permethrin Fact Sheet external link

PEO Soldier video external link

PEO Soldier Family Brochure external link

Army.mil: Insect-repelling ACUs now available to all Soldiers external link

Army News Service Article:  Information Sources for Permethrin Treated ACU's External Link

STAND-TO! Permethrin-Treated Army Combat Uniforms external link

STAND-TO! Army Combat Uniform without Permethrin External link

APHC: Breastfeeding Resources

APHC: ACUs for Pregnant, Nursing, and Female Soldiers Trying to Get Pregnant

Army Combat Uniform (ACU) without Permethrin Pregnancy Poster