Types of Insect Repellent
Mosquito Repellents With DEET
Bug sprays with DEET are a time-tested way of repelling 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 (OLE), 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 OLE 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, OLE bug repellents have their own safety concerns 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 does not recommend the use
of products with more than 30 percent DEET 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 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 four other chemicals – oil
of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, IR3535, and 2-undecanone – 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 or 2-undecanone 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
"The Efficacy of Some Commercially Available Insect Repellents for Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae)"
"Efficacy of Some Wearable Devices Compared with Spray-On Insect Repellents for the Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae)"
To find the best mosquito and other bug repellents, we
looked first at laboratory tests conducted by Consumer Reports 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 and REI. 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.