Summer nights are upon us, full of the chirping of crickets, the blinking of fireflies, and the buzzing of… mosquitoes.
How to Protect Yourself Against Mosquitoes
The Dangers of Mosquitoes
These nasty little critters, along with ticks and a few other bugs are responsible for the spread of diseases like the West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, and plenty of other nasty ailments.
I was scrolling through Yahoo the other day and found this article that shows the efficacy of different brands of insect repellents.
Take a look and let me know what you think:
A good insect repellent can protect you from mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus, ticks, and other biting insects.
Insect Repellents Review Procedure
Concerned about West Nile virus or ticks? Or just want to enjoy late-summer and fall outdoor gatherings, camping, hiking, and hunting without biting bugs?
If so, you're in luck.
For this insect repellent review, brave testers at an outside lab bared their arms in mosquito-filled cages and also let ticks crawl on them. We recorded how long it took for mosquitoes to start biting and for ticks to crawl over treated areas.
Our bugs were free of disease, but wild mosquitoes in the U.S. can carry West Nile virus or St. Louis encephalitis.
Travelers outside the U.S. might encounter mosquitoes carrying malaria, yellow fever, or dengue fever.
Ticks can spread Lyme disease, human babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. (Stay on top of the news related to the West Nile virus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's West Nile page.)
What is Lyme disease? Caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium-carrying ticks, a person with this disease experiences symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and skin rashes.
Effective Insect Repellants
Several tested repellents (see ratings below) protected against deer ticks and two common types of mosquitoes for 8 hours or more.
Four of those contain deet in varying levels:
- Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II (30%)
- Cutter Backwoods Unscented (23%)
- Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry (15%)
- 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8 (25%)
The active ingredient in some insect repellents is the oil of lemon eucalyptus. (It's not recommended for children under 3.) Almost as effective was Natrapel 8-Hour with picaridin, which protects with picaridin.
Our five top choices worked for at least 7 hours.
While the effectiveness of the best insect repellents is similar they feel and smell somewhat different.
- Cutter Backwoods leaves little scent or sensation.
- Off Deep Woods has a citrusy odor and filmy residue that panelists wanted to wash off.
- Off FamilyCare has a fruity odor and dries quickly.
- 3M Ultrathon has a strong odor and leaves an oily feeling on the skin at first.
- Natrapel has a floral odor and is a little greasy.
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The Environmental Protection Agency judges it safe when used as directed, but it has caused rare toxic reactions when misused. Don't use it on infants less than 2 months old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using repellents with DEET concentrations higher than 30 percent on any children. We think that no one needs a repellent with more than 30 percent deet.
Also, note that the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you avoid products that mix sunscreen with DEET insect repellent.
Unlike repellents, sunscreens are meant to be applied liberally and often, so using a combination product could result in unnecessarily high exposure to repellents.
Another reason not to use a combo: Many mosquitoes tend to bite long after the highest risk of sun damage has passed.
Most of the tested products will do the job if you're going to be outside for only a couple of hours, but look for a highly-rated product to protect you on longer excursions.
The insect repellents in our ratings, below, are still available; prices reflect what we paid when we tested these products in 2010.
How to Apply Repellent and Protect Yourself
When applying any repellent, follow directions.
- Use your hands to apply it to your face, avoiding your eyes and mouth, and don't apply it to cuts.
- Use just enough to cover exposed skin.
- Some directions suggest using it on clothes, but most tested repellents are damaged leather and vinyl, and some of them are stained synthetic fabrics.
- Wash repellent off your skin and launder treated clothes.
For extra protection:
- Wear light-colored, loose clothes and avoid using scented products when outdoors, especially at peak feeding hours—dusk to dawn for most mosquitoes.
- Remove standing water near your house. It can be a mosquito breeding ground.
- To avoid ticks, tuck pants into socks and wear closed shoes and a hat.
- Inspect yourself for ticks after venturing into wooded or grassy areas.
Check out these natural ways to keep mosquitoes away from the BRIGHT SIDE:
These are all Mainstream repellents available, but have you found any slightly less toxic alternatives that keep these critters from nipping at your heels (and various other places)?
What insect repellant do you use to ward off mosquitoes? Let me know in the comments section below.
- 3 Homemade Mosquito Repellents
- Alternative Mosquito Repellants
- Homemade Mosquito Trap Instructions | Summer-Ready Your Preps
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on May 27, 2013, but has been updated for quality and relevancy.