Mosquito repellents

The best ways to avoid mosquito bites are to avoid infested areas, wear protective clothing, and wear insect repellent.

How Do Mosquito Repellents Work?

Repellents make humans unattractive to a mosquito so that it will avoid areas of the body that have been treated with the product. Repellents do not kill mosquitoes. The best repellents will provide protection from bites for a long period of time from just one application. The University of Florida mosquito researchers test and evaluate the effectiveness of mosquito repellents based on the amount of time the product will continue to repel mosquitoes after one application to the skin. This is known as Complete Protection Time (CPT).

How To Decide Which Repellent Is Best

Read the label to determine what the active ingredient is and what percentage of the active ingredient is in the container. Use Table 1 , based on University of Florida research, as a guideline to compare products. Some provide protection for a long period of time and some have very short protection times.

In 2005, the CDC revised their recommendations on mosquito repellents and added two repellents, in addition to DEET: Picaridin [1-Piperidinecarboxylic acid, 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-, 1-methylpropylester] and Oil of Lemon-Eucalyptus [p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)]. The oil of lemon eucalyptus has not been tested against mosquitoes that spread malaria and some other diseases which occur internationally. The label for oil of lemon eucalyptus specifies that it should not be used on children under 3 years of age.

Keep in mind that repellents do not protect all users equally. The effectiveness of a repellent depends on the mosquito species that is biting as well as the age, sex, level of activity, and attractivness of the human using the repellent. Consider the following when choosing a repellent:

    • Are you in an area where you know that mosquito-borne diseases are present?
    • What is the mosquito population like? (A lot of bites expected? Or occasional bites?)
    • Will time spent outdoors at night be longer than an hour?
    • Will you be around heavily vegetated, humid areas during the day?
    • What type of activities are going on: exercising, running, playing sports, etc.?
    • Is the humidity and temperature high?

Table 1. Protection Times of Tested Mosquito Repellents

Products Active Ingredient Average Complete Protection Time
OFF! Deep Woods 23.8% DEET 5 hours
Sawyer Controlled Release 20% DEET 4 hours
OFF! Skintastic 6.65% DEET 2 hours
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Oil of lemon eucalyptus; p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD) 2 hours
Bite Blocker for Kids 2% Soybean Oil 1.5 hours
OFF! Skintastic for Kids 4.75% DEET 1.5 hours
Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus 7.5% IR3535 23 minutes
Natrapel 10% Citronella 20 minutes
Herbal Armor 12% Citronella; 2.5% peppermint oil; 2% cedar oil; 1% lemongrass oil; 0.05% geranium oil 19 minutes
Green Ban for People 10% Citronella; 2% peppermint oil 14 minutes
Buzz Away 5% Citronella 14 minutes
Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard 0.1% Citronella 10 minutes
Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil Active Ingredient not known 10 minutes
Skin-So-Soft Moisturizing Suncare 0.05% Citronella 3 minutes
Gone Original Wristband 9.5% DEET 0
Repello Wristband 9.5% DEET 0
Gone Plus Repelling Wristband 25% Citronella 0

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6 Responses to “Mosquito repellents”

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