Types of Insect Repellent
Mosquito Repellents With DEET
Experts say that bug sprays with DEET are the most effective option to repel mosquitoes and ticks. They don't do much against other biting insects, such as black flies, fleas, and mites, but those insects usually don't carry potentially fatal diseases. However, some question DEET's safety, especially when it comes to use by young children, and don't like its smell or feel. In addition, DEET can melt through plastics and damage fabric, leather, and painted surfaces.
Natural Insect Repellents
Most so-called "natural" bug sprays and repellents use oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is actually a synthetic chemical that's made from extracts of eucalyptus plants. Be that as it may, in tests, products containing 30 percent lemon eucalyptus oil are effective at repelling mosquitoes and ticks, and reviewers say these products can repel other insects as well. Although it has fewer side effects than DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus bug repellents are not approved for use in children under 3 years old.
Insect Repellents For Kids
Experts say that among bug repellents that actually work, those containing picaridin are the safest to use on children, even those as young as two months. Products containing 20 percent picaridin do a good job of repelling mosquitoes and ticks in independent testing. Users also find these products effective against other insects, such as flies, chiggers, and no-see-ums. Experts say picaridin is safe for children of all ages; its only known side effects are skin irritation, which is very rare, and eye irritation, but it can damage fabric and leather.
back against bugs that bite
For many years, people seeking protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and
other bugs faced a dilemma. The only truly effective insect repellents
contained DEET – a chemical that has raised some concerns about its
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has repeatedly reviewed DEET
and concluded that it's safe for both adults and children, so long as it's used
correctly. However, not all experts agree, especially when it comes to
youngsters. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics says DEET shouldn't
be used on babies under 2 months old, and products with more than 30 percent
DEET shouldn't be used on children at all. Canada's federal health department
is even more cautious: it recommends that children between 6 months and 12
years old should avoid products with more than 10 percent DEET. It says to
avoid using DEET on children under 6 months or on older children for more than
30 days running.
Until recently, this left concerned parents with no good ways to protect
their kids from mosquitoes and ticks – or from the diseases they carry.
Today, however, consumers have far more options.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recognizes
several mosquito-repelling ingredients as effective weapons in the war against
malaria, West Nile, Lyme disease, and other insect-borne diseases. In addition
to DEET, there are three other chemicals – oil
of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, and IR3535 – recommended for
use on both skin and clothing.
In this report, we review insect repellents that contain Deet, oil of lemon eucalyptus and picaridin. There aren't that many bug
repellents containing IR3535 as their primary
ingredient, and the few that have been included in professional tests weren't
among the top performers. We also don't cover products with another chemical, permethrin, which can be applied
to clothing and camping gear to both repel and kill insects, but shouldn't be
applied to skin.
It's also possible to buy truly
all-natural insect and mosquito repellents, which rely solely on natural oils
like citronella, geranium, and soybean to repel bugs. Many users like them
because they're gentle and mild-smelling, but unfortunately, most of them don't
perform very well in professional tests or, at best, need to be re-applied very
often to be effective. If you want to give one of these a try, we name a couple
of choices in our sections on the best natural insect repellents and the best insect repellents for kids.
Finding The Best Insect Repellent
"Efficacy of Some Wearable Devices Compared with Spray-On Insect Repellents for the Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae)"
"The Efficacy of Some Commercially Available Insect Repellents for Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae)"
To find the best mosquito and other bug repellents, we
looked first at laboratory tests conducted by ConsumerReports.org and the
Journal of Insect Science, which show how long different products can protect
against mosquitoes and ticks. Then we examined background information from the
EPA and the CDC to evaluate the safety of different bug-repelling ingredients.
We also looked at reviews from actual users at retail sites
like Amazon.com and REI.com. These helped fill in the details on how bug sprays
work in real-life conditions – how they feel, how they smell, and whether
people experienced side effects after using them. Based on all this
information, we offer our picks for the best insect repellents with DEET, the
best natural insect repellents with oil of lemon eucalyptus, and the best
choices for kids.