If you live in an area where mosquitoes or ticks (or both) are common, it’s important to protect yourself from the diseases these insects can carry. The list of diseases you can get from mosquitoes and ticks has grown in recent decades. Zika, transmitted by mosquitoes, and Powassan, transmitted by ticks, are two distressing examples. And even the number of people falling each year with more familiar diseases like Lyme is increasing.
Our insect repellent classifications identify which products work best against mosquitoes and ticks. (We no longer test our products against ticks, but previous test results and our research indicate that repellents that work well against mosquitoes also tend to be effective against ticks.)
Choosing the right repellent is important: our best products provide several hours of protection, and some of our lower rated products fade in as little as 30 minutes. So arm yourself with one of the high-performance repellents.
What is Insect Repellent?
In simple terms, an insect repellent is a substance that can help avoid unwanted attention from small creatures that may bite or bite. They are designed to completely repel insects or minimize the effect of any contact by making the skin less attractive to a wide variety of pests.
There are many ways to apply insect repellent to your skin, as well as spread it into the air around you to help keep insects away. The most common types of natural insect repellents include creams, lotions, and roll-ons, as well as lanterns, torches, diffusers, candles, and sprays.
Insect repellents not only help prevent annoying bites and stings, they can also offer a substantial layer of protection against the more serious side effects of insect interactions. These can include severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, and in some countries, they can even spread serious diseases such as Lyme disease and malaria.
Insect repellents are a useful addition to your home, whether you’re sitting at home on the terrace on a nice evening, taking a camping trip, or even just throwing in your kids ‘ school bags. In certain parts of the world, they are an absolute must for your traveling health.
How We Test Insect Repellents
We begin our insect repellent testing by applying a standard dose of repellent to a measured area of skin on the arms of our test subjects. (The standard dose is determined from the Environmental Protection Agency’s product testing guidelines.)
After 30 minutes, these brave volunteers place their arms in the first two of the four cages of 200 disease-free mosquitoes for 5 minutes. Our testers closely observe what happens inside the cage, and count every time a mosquito lands on a subject’s arm, uses its proboscis (its long mouth) to probe the skin in an attempt to find a capillary, or bites the subject’s arm and starts feeding, what testers can say by watching the insect’s abdomen turn gray to red or brown.
After 5 minutes, subjects remove their arms, then repeat the process by placing their arms in a second pair of disease-free mosquito cages of a different species, for another 5 minutes. Subjects then walk for about 10 minutes to stimulate sweating, this is to mimic a real-world environment, in which users can be active while using repellent.
Half an hour later, this procedure is repeated once, and then again once every hour after that until a repellent fails our test, or until 8 hours have passed since it was applied. We consider a failure to be a “confirmed mosquito bite”: two bites in a 5-minute session inside the cage, or one bite in each of the two consecutive 5-minute sessions.
Staff vs insect repellent area
Personal and area insect repellents do not kill insects; they use different chemicals to prevent them from biting you by interfering with their senses. Some chemicals are safe to apply to the skin or use together with sunscreen, while others should only be applied to clothing, sleeping bags or tents.
Personal repellents come in different forms, including insect repellent, sprays, lotions, and rub bars. Some are intended to be applied directly to the skin, while others are applied to fabrics. DEET is a commonly used and very effective repellent that can be applied safely to the skin. It is available in a wide range of concentrations, with stronger concentrations providing greater efficacy over longer periods of time.
Organic products, such as lemon oil or eucalyptus, can also be used on the skin.
Permethrin spray can be applied to clothing, shoes and camping equipment and will remain very effective even after repeated washing. It should not be used on the skin.
Personal repellents can be perfumed or unscented to suit your tastes.
DEET can be found in aerosol, spray and lotion form.
DEET provides longer-lasting protection than most other chemicals, but can act as a skin irritant for some people.
Pyrethrum repels and kills insects; it should not be applied to the skin.
If you plan to spend a large amount of time outdoors in one place, area repellents can save you the hassle of applying lotions and sprays to your skin and clothing. These products are particularly effective when used in smaller areas, such as patios and porches.
Measure the size of the area and consider how long you will be outside before making a purchase. Citronella candles can be used virtually anywhere and provide hours of protection against annoying mosquitoes.
Area insect repellents and traps cover a specific area and work for a set number of hours.
Use them in your backyard or at a picnic to keep insects away.
Butane sprays, nebulizers, coils and cartridges offer a range of options.
Citronella wipes can be used to apply protection to skin and clothing.
Types of repellent
Large and small concentrated areas
Face, neck, exposed skin
Security and options
Since most pest repellents contain chemicals, wash your skin with soap and water immediately after returning indoors to remove them. Use special care when applying to children’s arms and hands so that chemicals do not get into the mouth.
Mosquitoes tend to be more active between dawn and dusk, so apply stronger repellent if you plan to go out during that time period.
Use the lowest concentration of active ingredient that meets your needs.
Spray spray repellents only in well-ventilated areas.
Do not use DEET in children younger than 2 months of age.
Wear long sleeves, pants, and loose clothing to protect against stings.
Wash treated clothing before reuse.
Some products, such as sleeping bags and other camping equipment, can be pretreated with permethrin, providing insect protection from the outset.
If you prefer a more organic repellent that is easy to use, citronella bracelets easily slide over your wrists to provide protection without the application of chemicals.
For extended periods outdoors, look for products that combine repellent chemicals with sunscreen to protect against stings and sunburn.
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No more stings and burns that bother you. This guide will show you a remarkable way to prevent swarm mosquitoes from harassing you:
Mosquito repellents protect you and your family from dangerous diseases.
Whether you are in the woods or just have a barbecue on the patio, they are an unbeatable tool to avoid small bugs.
The only natural ingredient that the Centers for Disease Control considers as effective against mosquitoes and ticks as DEET is lemon eucalyptus oil. Keep in mind that products containing more than 30 percent lemon eucalyptus oil are not safe for children under the age of 3. The chemical P-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD), which can be derived from lemon eucalyptus or made synthetically, is also approved by the CDC. Most repellents applied to the skin must be registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for human safety and effectiveness, and this record includes products that have been shown to be effective and use lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, and catnip oil as primary active ingredients.
Manufacturers of some natural insect repellents have voluntarily registered their products for EPA evaluation, but unfortunately this list is limited, and the EPA public registry was last updated in June 2019. Many of the unregistered natural repellents have lists of ingredients comparable to registered products, but keep in mind that any unregistered repellent may be less effective in preventing insect bites and therefore disease. Due to a lack of government oversight, some health experts do not recommend insect repellents with only essential oils as active ingredients.
If you live, Camp, walk, or travel in a location with a high risk of insect-borne diseases or are purchasing a product for use in deep forests, it is important to select an insect repellent that has been registered with the EPA. Unregistered products should only be used in more urban or backyard applications in areas with a lower risk of disease.
Time to effectiveness: while some insect repellent products can be effective at repelling mosquitoes or ticks for up to 6 hours, others should be reapplied every 2 hours, or even more often. Pay close attention to the instructions on the package. If a product is registered with the EPA, the EPA website will note how long it is effective for and against which insects.