Today, the Zika virus has become an issue not only for Africa but also for South America. That is why the US citizens are at high risk. Bite itching and swelling aren’t the worst symptoms. Many kinds of mosquitoes are carriers of viruses against which the scientists are helpless. Is it true that the only way to save yourself from getting bitten is to use mosquito repellents? What can you expect from a bug spray? What is the best mosquito repellent? A DEET or an organic mosquito spray? What do entomologists say about their efficiency? We have picked 11 best mosquito repellent sprays for the skin and clothes, as well as lotions and devices that repel flying insects.
- 1 What Are The Most Effective And Safe Mosquito Repellents According To Scientists?
- 2 Best Mosquito Repellent Sprays & Lotions
- 3 What is the difference between a natural mosquito repellent and DEET?
- 4 Comparative Chart of the Repellents’ Effectiveness
- 5 Mosquito Repelling Devices
- 6 Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
- 7 Best Mosquito Repellent Comparison Chart
- 8 Mosquito Repellent FAQs
- 9 Precautions and Safety Rules to Follow
Infected Aedes species mosquito transmits the Zika virus. These insects are active, both during the day and at night. The disease of the same name is not lethal and is usually accompanied by a number of ailments, including a headache, fever, rash and joint ache. However, there are no treatments or vaccines against it! According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), this disease is especially dangerous for pregnant women and the virus can be transmitted to their children and cause severe brain damage or even a miscarriage. The scientists have records of transmission of the disease through sexual intercourse and even through blood transfusions.
Today, the Zika virus has conquered almost the entire Africa, some Eastern countries and all South America and Mexico. US citizens are at risk due to their critical proximity to the area of the pandemic. The scientists and experts, including Pennsylvania Department of Health staff, quote CDC and claim that repellents are the most effective means of protection against the Zika virus: “The best way to prevent Zika is to avoid mosquito bites. To do this, use an EPA-registered insect repellent.”
Stacy Rodriguez, laboratory manager for the Molecular Vector Physiology Lab at the New Mexico Department of Health, conducted a research to identify the best mosquito repellents and published the study in 2017. “When we walk into a store we see many mosquito repellents right by the registers, so they become an impulse buy. But what we’ve found is that some of these products have little to no effect on keeping mosquitos away,” Rodriguez noted.
The study results show that mosquito repellents based on DEET and Oil of Eucalyptus are the most effective protection against bloodsuckers. Such products as mosquito repellent bracelets do not help a lot in making humans less attractive to mosquitoes. This is due to a low concentration of the repellent released by the average bracelet. “Based on our results, we concluded that these bracelets, in general, do not offer adequate protection from mosquito bites,” she added. As for citronella candles, the tests conducted by Rodriguez have revealed them to be totally useless.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has evaluated information published in peer-reviewed scientific literature and data available from EPA to identify products that are safe and provide high repellent activity. According to scientific research, products containing the following active ingredients provide long-lasting protection: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), PMD, IR3535 and Permethrin.
The active ingredient which effectiveness has been indisputable for decades and which has enjoyed the government support is DEET. Some people find its smell unpleasant while others have safety concerns about the DEET-based product. In addition, this chemical compound can damage plastic surfaces and the products containing it are quite expensive. And yet, this ingredient still retains its primacy. “The big advantage of DEET is that it lasts — and you don’t have to use the super-high-concentration products. We won’t count on this in a real, mosquito-infested situation, but in controlled lab conditions, a repellent containing 20% DEET (an average amount) keeps mosquitoes from biting for four hours,” experts at Harvard Medical School indicate.
Modern repellents are quite cheap and therefore are most in demand when it comes to combating bloodsuckers: their average cost varies Check the current price. According to sales statistics, an organic spray REPEL is the sales leader, while a more powerful product containing 98% DEET, popular with the fishermen and hunters, is a runner-up.
Best Natural Mosquito Repellent | Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
A natural solution targeting bloodsuckers that may carry dangerous diseases is the best mosquito repellent for Zika. Repel is based on Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, a natural ingredient recommended by scientists and proved to be effective against mosquitoes. What these insects find repulsive is appealing to humans due to the refreshing scent of the substance. No wonder that this optimum alternative is a prime choice among users.This is a long-lasting solution, providing the mosquito protection for up to 6 hours, which is why the manufacturer suggests applying it even under extreme conditions. The label says that the product is effective under any circumstances so that you can “heed the call of the wild wherever the trail takes you.”
Spray this lemon eucalyptus oil mosquito repellent directly on the exposed skin as it is safe and natural. The stuff can also be applied to bedding and furniture, without staining the surfaces. But keep in mind that lemon eucalyptus is an irritant and can cause allergy in pets, particularly cats. Therefore, the product cannot be used on pets.
Its rating is 4.2 out of 5 stars, with over 4,500 reviews. “When I use Repel….I have not experienced this “fading” effect, even after working in my garden and sweating heavily for 4 or 5 hours later!” a customer wrote, claiming that there was no difference between a strong chemical DEET and Repel based on natural ingredients.
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Best Mosquito Repellent For Sportsmen
This is a stronger mosquito repellent based on DEET, which is a chemical compound, unlike the previous product. It repels not just mosquitoes but other pests like ticks and flies. The concentration of DEET in this product is 40%, but you should know that, according to an FDA study, DEET does not get any more effective beyond about 20-30% concentration. What higher concentrations give is the extended length of time the repellant is effective.
The solution ensures longer protection lasting up to 8 hours, which is crucial for sportsmen who have to train a lot outdoors and sweat so much. Sweating washes away a conventional substance but DEET is more persistent and reliable in this case. Consumers note that the product works well for about 5 hours of hot work, like gardening and hiking. Spray the stuff both on the exposed skin and clothes in order to ensure a better protection. It can also be used and is safe in combination with sunscreen.
The product rates 4.3 out of 5 stars, with over 1,000 customer reviews. “It smells when you first spray it but the odor does not last. My skin did not feel sticky. I used in Uganda and it worked great,” a customer noted.
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Best Mosquito Repellent For Hunters and Other Extreme Situations
Repel 100 Insect Repellent contains almost a maximum concentration of DEET — 98.11%. Some people are concerned about such concentrations and in some regions and countries DEET over 30% is prohibited. Therefore, we must admit that this is the least safe option on our list. Then, why should we use this DEET mosquito repellent? The answer is simple: this product provides the most durable effect, lasting up to 10 hours. This is particularly helpful for hunters and travelers, who spend a lot of time exposing the skin to mosquito bites in woodlands and especially marshland — an area where mosquitoes thrive and breed.Apart from that, the bottle has a convenient travel size, while the solution inside it is formulated exactly for severe insect conditions. Since this mosquito repellent spray is very potent, be sure to read the label directions and strictly follow them. Otherwise, it would be a violation of Federal law. Apply the off mosquito repellent to the skin or clothes but don’t use it under clothing, nor should you spray it in enclosed areas.
Its rating is 4.2 out of 5 stars. “The product works very well. It takes very little bug juice to give you protection. I spray a little bit in the palm of my hand, then rub my hands together to give them a coating of the repellent. I then rub the areas I want to protect with my repellent coated hands,” a customer wrote.
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Best Mosquito Repellent For Fisherman
Sawyer off mosquito repellent is said to be effective against the yellow fever mosquito carrying the Zika virus. The product with an active ingredient picaridin lasts up to 12 hours when it comes in a spray and about 14 hours when applied in the form of a mosquito repellent lotion.According to the manufacturer, in 2016, the product was reviewed by Consumer Reports as the Fisherman’s Formula in its list of safe and effective insect repellents. Feel free to apply it on any surfaces, including clothing, fishing line, and sunglasses because picaridin does not damage synthetic fabrics, unlike DEET. The substance is not greasy and has a discreet odor resembling that of citrus.
This mosquito repellent spray is the most popular with users, with the rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. “It is the safest product on the market, I did a lot of research prior to wearing it every day in St. John for 7 days. It is not only much safer than Deet, it was also more effective & is relatively odorless & doesn’t ruin clothes or plastic gear,” a user said.
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Best Mosquito Repellent for Family Outdoor Activity
Another repellent based on picaridin is promoted by the manufacturer as the best mosquito repellent for family outdoor activities. This is due to the fact that picaridin is an effective alternative to DEET, providing the same long-lasting protection against mosquitoes — up to 6 hours — but which is much safer.
Avon Bug Guard with a 5-percent concentration of picaridin is recommended for families to enjoy outdoor activities like walks, evening barbeques and jogging. Also, the repellent is safe for kids and can be used on pets. However, if you want to treat a baby, first try a small patch to see whether any negative body reaction would follow.
Its rating is 4.4 out of 5 stars. “When I bought it, it was for my granddaughter who was 11 at the time. In my opinion, it is much safer than any chemical spray you can buy,” a customer pointed out. Well, indeed, the product is great for family mosquito-free holidays.
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Best Mosquito Repellent For Sensitive Skin
This is the best mosquito repellent for people with a sensitive skin since it provides the moisturizing protection with aloe and vitamin E. Also, it contains a SPF 30 sunscreen lotion so that you don’t have to bother with applying several solutions serving different purposes. In addition, the product’s gentle breeze scent makes it pleasant to smell, unlike many other off mosquito repellents with a repulsive odor. The stuff is not greasy either, which is good for the skin as well.Avon Insect Repellent should be applied 15 minutes before the skin is exposed to the sun and mosquitoes. If your kids are under ten, take care not to let them use the repellent without your supervision. Don’t apply the stuff to kids under six months without a prior consultation with a doctor. For optimal mosquito protection, apply the repellent every two hours but not exceeding nine applications per day.
Its rating is 4.4 out of 5 stars. It seems that people like the stuff since only 5% of the customers gave the product just one star while 71% of them awarded it with five stars. “I got it to protect my toddler this summer. It worked well. When I forgot it we could not even sit on our front porch, after applying it he was bite free,” one of the customers commented.
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Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard + Picaridin Towelettes
Since picaridin is a chemical compound which is both safe and effective, try another product Avon based on this ingredient — mosquito repellent towelettes. Each self-closing bag holds 8 packets with towelettes. They are safe and can be used on pets, kids and babies over 6 months old. These towelettes don’t damage plastics or clothing and can even be applied directly to the face, without irritating even sensitive skin.While having the same ingredients in them as sprays, towelettes have a number of advantages. They are more convenient to use and carry as they are packed, lightweight, and clean. The stuff is almost odorless and, as one customer described it, “has a light scent but it’s not the typical bug repellent scent”.
This product has got the best rating on — 4.6 out of 5 stars, with 80% of the customers giving it five stars. “I used it once daily while I was in Jamaica and it worked wonderfully for me. Every morning after my shower I used it (no lotion or moisturizer) and I did not get any bites,” a customer noted.
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What is the difference between a natural mosquito repellent and DEET?
Natural repellents act differently than DEET-based synthetics do. Scientists, Marta Ferreira Maia and Sarah J Moore, proved that plants can repel the insects. The entomologists have done a great job summarizing the results of dozens of biologists’ research. They compared their field and lab studies and identified the most effective plants: Citronella, Lemon eucalyptus and Lemongrass. But they won’t suppress the mosquitoes’ reaction to the human smell. The synthetic DEET-based products inhibit this reaction and it becomes harder for the insects to identify human smell.
Moreover, the artificial chemical products are tested more meticulously than their organic counterparts because everything synthetic is considered to be far less healthy. In reality, they are rather safe for people. The organic products are often disregarded and become the Trojan horse, especially if you’ve risked using pure essential oils.
We can therefore see that the use of synthetic repellents is more supported by the scientists and thus, it increasingly replaces the use of their natural counterparts. Add the fact that DEET is way cheaper and the conclusion will be obvious. It is not in vain that every 4th USA resident (which adds up to 78 million people annually), every 4th UK resident and 200 million more people across the world trust the synthetic products.
Do Vitamin B1, Garlic and Brewer’s Yeast Work?
There are lots of myths regarding natural mosquito repellents online. One such misconception is that apparently Vitamin B1 (thiamine chloride), garlic and brewer’s yeast repel insects if taken orally. The manufacturers claim that a single pill will give you 24-hour protection! Tempting, isn’t it?
We’ll have to disappoint you, though, as the North Carolina State University scientists don’t trust the effectiveness of these “magical pills” and state that the results of several scientific studies do not support the claims that these materials are effective repellents for biting insects.
Comparative Chart of the Repellents’ Effectiveness
|Brewer’s yeast in tablets||Yeast||Useless||0|
|Garlic||Garlic||The scientists consider garlic ingestion to be ineffective.||0|
|Bracelets||Oils Of Citronella, Geranium, Lavender||Scientific studies show that they are almost useless.||1|
|Natural sprays and lotions||Oil Of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE)||Effective and safe natural protection against bites up to 6 hours.||10|
|DEET-based sprays||DEET||The most powerful skin repellent with its protection lasting for up to 10 hours.||10|
|Picaridin, IR3535, PMD||Effective alternative to DEET, providing long-lasting protection up to 6 hours.||10|
|Permethrin sprays for clothing||Permethrin||You can buy mosquito repellent spray (like Sawyer) and treat your clothing and gear. Effect lasts up to 6 weeks.||10|
Mosquito Repelling Devices
Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller
This repellent is the odorless gas contained in a canister and intended to repel mosquitoes. The solution works by releasing allethrin, a synthetic duplicate of a component of pyrethrum which is a botanical insecticide. Allethrin was introduced as early as the middle of last century and now is used in products repelling mosquitoes and flies. Note that the substance is moderately toxic and may cause the skin irritation and burning. If a person is exposed to large doses, health consequences may be more serious including diarrhea. But this is the case only where the product is handled improperly, so, be sure that you have thoroughly read the label directions before using the device.Thermacell covers an area of 15 square feet and is recommended for outdoor activities, such as camping and fishing. It can also be used to protect your lawn and garden. A holster does not come with the product, so you will have to figure out how to attach the device to your backpack or just lay it down beside you. Moreover, you can even wear it while working in the garden but be sure that pets do not have access to it. The product’s advantages also include its portability and light weight. This repellent is considered to be effective. According to the manufacturer, US Army has used Thermacell to protect soldiers from insect bites in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
The product rates 4.1 out of 5 stars, with over 1,250 customer reviews, most of which are positive. “So far, I haven’t been bitten while using this, and I’m the one that always gets bitten. I ended up buying the big refill pack since this worked so well this summer. If I wanted to eat outside, I’d start this up a few minutes before I’m ready to eat,” one of the customers said. Other customer pointed to some downsides of the product: “This product does reduce the number of mosquitoes present but doesn’t last long, and the refills are a bit costly,” he noted.
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Mosquito Repellent Clothing
Military uniform, permethrin-treated, has long been tested on military personnel. It has saved American soldiers from malaria and other insect-borne diseases, some of which can be deadly. The U.S. Army has used permethrin for more than 20 years to treat uniforms. Recently, this technology has been applied commercially and permethrin-treated clothing has been launched on the market for civilians.
Is Permethrin-Treated Clothing Safe? – YES.
Permethrin is a highly effective insecticide-acaricide and repellent. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, flies, fleas and other biting and nuisance arthropods.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attest to the high effectiveness of insect repellent clothing. EPA guarantees the safety of permethrin-treated clothing. In 2009, they assessed the risks including the risks of toddlers wearing or mouthing such clothing, personnel who wear permethrin-treated uniforms on a daily basis and came concluded that permethrin factory-treated clothing is unlikely to pose any significant immediate or long-term hazard to people wearing such clothing. They also claim that such clothes carry no harm for pregnant and breast-feeding women.According to CDC, “products such as Permanone and Sawyer, Permethrin, Repel, and Ultrathon Permethrin Clothing Treatment are registered with EPA specifically for use by consumers to treat clothing and gear.” You can buy Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent (Check current price) and spray it on your clothing. The effect lasts for up to 6 weeks or 6 washings.
Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
No matter how attractive is the idea of mosquito repellent bracelets, scientific studies show that they are almost useless. This is the case even though the active ingredient is the most potent. “Wristbands with DEET provided no protection: people wearing wristbands with DEET were bitten in less than one minute,” as stated in a test conducted at a laboratory in the University of Florida. Nor do bracelets containing essential oil mosquito repellent provide the insect protection.
According to specialists with UW-Madison Department of Entomology, a laboratory study demonstrated that bracelets with 25% citronella failed to prevent bites. “Because the wristbands would protect only the immediate area around them, it isn’t surprising that they weren’t very reliable,” they claim. However, some studies still demonstrate positive results, showing a decrease in mosquito landing rates when mosquito repellent bracelets are worn, so, if you like this option, you may give them a try.
Now, if you want to try this solution, what is the best mosquito repellent bracelet? We have picked two of them that are the most popular among users.
The first option, 12 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelet Band, is based on natural ingredients including mosquito repellent essential oils. The product is said to be designed to protect a person from mosquitoes for up to 420 hours and is waterproof. These bracelets are multi-size and can be comfortably worn by an adult man or a small child, both on the hand and ankle.
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Another option is Bradford Exchange Mosquito Repellent Bracelets made from soft microfiber material. These bracelets are adjustable and, therefore, can be easily worn both by kids and adults. This repellent comprises more ingredients, including essential oils, citronella, lavender, eucalyptus, lemongrass and geraniol oil. According to the label description, a package of this essential oil mosquito repellent lasts 2880 hours (240 hours each).
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Best Mosquito Repellent Comparison Chart
Is DEET bad for your health?
DEET is approved by EPA for use on children with no age restriction and considered to be safe. But it depends on individual characteristics of an organism and how frequent and prolonged DEET exposure was. A study conducted in the 1980s showed that a full one-quarter of the subjects studied experienced negative health effects, including skin irritation, nausea, and headaches.
Is DEET the same thing as DDT?
No it is not. First, these are different chemical compounds: DEET stands for diethyltoluamide but DDT is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. Secondly, DDT was banned in the USA in 1972 due to its toxicity, whereas DEET is approved by EPA. Thirdly, DEET is a repellent while DDT is a pesticide stopping insects from spreading malaria.
What is the best percentage of DEET?
Studies suggest that products with 15 to 30% DEET are effective and provide enough protection against mosquitoes. Higher concentrations provide longer-lasting protection but do not improve the product’s repellent properties. At the same time, excessive doses are likely to pose health hazards.
What are the best essential oils for mosquito repellent?
This is definitely lemon eucalyptus. Scientists place it on a par with picaridin and DEET for its repelling properties.
What are the benefits of lemon eucalyptus essential oil?
Some scientific researches found that lemon eucalyptus essential oil can be equally or more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. So, it was revealed that lemon eucalyptus can completely protect from mosquito bites for up to seven hours, matching the performance of DEET. This is due to the main active ingredient of lemon eucalyptus — PMD, which blocks mosquitoes from sensing the presence of humans.
Can mosquitoes bite through clothes?
Mosquitoes are guided by the heat produced by human body. They can bite through clothing but this is the case only with clothing which is made from thin material and up against the skin. So, you should better wear thick and loose-fitting clothing.
What color is best to wear to avoid mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, therefore, you should better opt for light colors when going outdoors. Apart from mosquito protection, light-colored clothing has other benefits. If a person is lost in the woodland and can be spotted more easily. Also, it keeps a person cooler in the heat, which ensures additional protection from mosquitoes, which detect humans by their body heat.
How to correctly apply repellents?
First of all, read the label directions and follow them. However, there are some universal rules. Don’t apply the repellent on wounds and irritated skin. Don’t spray it indoors and keep out of children’s reach.
How does the effect last?
It depends on the particular repellent. Chemical solutions normally last longer than natural ones. The durability is directly related to a concentration of the main repelling active ingredient in the product. The higher concentration is, the longer it lasts.
Should a mosquito repellent be used in the heat?
Repellents can be used in the heat but they should be very potent and intended for extreme conditions. The thing is that heavy sweat washes away whatever is applied on the skin, including mosquito repellents. In this case, you should either apply the repellent more frequently or purchase powerful solutions.
Does a mosquito repellent mixes with sweat?
A repellent can be mixed with sweat and washed away. This can pose a risk of the substance’s getting into the eyes, which will cause eye irritation and burning.
Can repellents penetrate into the body?
They do but the level of absorption depends on the particular repellent. For example, the skin penetration rate of IR3535 is 13.3% after dermal application. As for DEET, up to 56% of the repellent applied topically penetrates intact human skin and 17% is absorbed into the bloodstream.
What repellent should you bring with you to Bali or Bora-Bora?
These are places where you will have to deal with an ocean of bloodsuckers, so be prepared. Bear in mind that in Bali, Dengue comes from daytime mosquitoes, so apply repellents any time you are outdoors. Products containing DEET are preferable for such places and if you are going to spend all the time in the open air, opt for repellents with high DEET concentration. In case you are allergic, choose picaridin-based products.
Can you wear a repellent with a sunscreen?
Yes. First, apply a sunscreen lotion or cream, then, after about 10 minutes, apply a mosquito repellent.
Should you use a lotion or spray repellent?
Lotions provide longer-lasting mosquito protection than sprays, because of the slowed-down evaporation. The strong point in sprays is that they can be applied to clothing, where the spray is effective longer than on skin.
Are mosquito repellents safe for children?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, DEET-based mosquito repellents are safe for children as young as 2 months. However, the DEET concentration should not exceed 30%. Picaridin can also be used on babies as young as 2 months but it is odorless and is considered to be less toxic. Natural repellents based on plant oils are believed to be safer, but bear in mind that for optimal protection, you will have to apply them more frequently, which is not actually good. Bear in mind that non-DEET repellents have not been studied as thoroughly as DEET, therefore, may not be safe for children.
Can your mosquito repellent be applied on pets?
There are mosquito repellents specifically designed for dogs and cats. But what you definitely must not do is to use DEET-based products on dogs, nor should you apply repellents containing essential oils on cats.
Do mosquito repellents expire?
Any mosquito repellent has a shelf life that typically amounts to several years. Be sure to check the label before purchasing the product. If the repellent is to expire soon, its effectiveness will be lower.
Precautions and Safety Rules to Follow
It is crucial to read the label before applying a mosquito repellent as each product has its own features specified by the manufacturer. However, you should remember some rules common for all products. No matter how safe the product is said to be, never overapply. Even repellents based on natural ingredients can cause allergy and skin irritation.
The frequency of applications is specified on the label. Then, the product must be approved by EPA and have a registration number indicated on the label. Also, the label should contain the list of insects the repellent is formulated for.
Use common sense. Even if the label says that the repellent is appropriate for the case like yours, take into account such thing as idiocrasy. For this purpose, watch for reactions of the body and if something goes wrong, stop using the product.
Never apply repellents on wounds or irritated skin, nor should it be sprayed on mouth or eyes. Some repellents are allowed to be applied on the face, however, do not spray directly on it but rather apply the repellent on hands and then rub it on the face. Also, you should better first test it on a patch of skin in the area of the wrist and wait for a while to see whether an allergic response will follow.
Apply the repellent only to the exposed parts of the body, do not use it under the clothing. Some products are labeled for the use on clothing, which should be stated on the label. Do not let small children apply the repellent on their own and keep it out of their reach.