Best Bug Repellents

File photo: Mosquitoes

May 25, 2010 11:45:07 AM PDT
Summertime means more time outdoors. Unfortunately that can mean a lot more exposure to bugs, like mosquitoes and ticks. Steve Ricker spends a lot of time outdoors, as director of a nature conservatory, so he's no stranger to insects.

"I've been bit by many, many, many, many bugs over the years, so it's part of the job," said Ricker.

Besides wearing a hat, long sleeves, and long pants, he always makes sure to use insect repellent.

Consumer Reports just tested 10 repellents to see how well they protect against mosquitoes ? two different types ? and deer ticks.

"Several of the repellents we tested contain the active ingredient DEET -- but no more than 30 percent. And others use newer chemicals like picaridin," said Kim Kleman, Consumer Reports.

This Repel spray uses lemon eucalyptus oil, another chemical. And two other products tested claim to be "all natural" -- Burt's Bees All Natural Herbal Insect Repellent and Organic Bite Blocker Xtreme.

Several brave panelists at an outside lab bared their arms to test repellents. First mosquitoes. You can see here the repellent is working. Mosquitoes are avoiding the treated skin.

Next deer ticks. Here the tick is placed on an untreated arm and it moves right up the arm. But you can see on this arm that's been treated with repellent, as the tick approaches the treated area above the blue line it makes a "U" turn to get away. But not all the products worked this well.

"The Burt's Bees Repellent performed the worst, offering only a fraction of the protection that the others did," said Kleman.

In the end, six products kept mosquitoes and ticks away for at least seven hours.

"The repellents we tested generally had a strong smell and left a slight residue on the skin, but testers found the Cutter Backwoods Unscented, while it had a slight smell, left barely a hint of residue," said Kleman.

And finally, another tip from Steve.

"If you wear a hat, spray your hat. It's very effective," said Ricker.

If you want a DEET-free repellent, Consumer Reports recommends the Natrapel 8-Hour with Picaridin or, for those older than three, Repel with Lemon Eucalyptus.

Testers also checked out the Off Clip-on mosquito repellent. This battery-powered device eliminates having to apply lotions and sprays to your skin. But, unfortunately, tests show it didn't keep bugs away for very long. So for lasting protection -- use one of Consumer Reports top-rated repellents.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org.


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