NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — Bug season is here, which means you’ll need a good insect repellent to protect you from bites. But not all repellents can get the job done.
As the weather gets nicer, you want to spend more time outside. But you don't want to be eaten alive by mosquitoes, or bitten by ticks. There are some repellents that will let you enjoy being outside, bug-free
Insect repellent sprays, lotions, and wipes — Consumer Reports has put them all to the test. This meant having willing panelists stick their arms into cages filled with 200 disease-free mosquitoes after having a standard dose of repellent applied to their skin.
But of course, the insects that might bite you aren’t necessarily disease-free.
"With cases of mosquito- and tick-borne diseases on the rise, it’s crucial to protect yourself," said Catherine Roberts, Consumer Reports health editor.
Take Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 476,000 cases occurred each year between 2010 and 2018, up nearly 45% from the decade prior.
But not all repellents offer adequate protection.
"Our testing paints a pretty clear picture. No matter the brand or what kind of repellent you’re using, products made with 25 to 30% DEET worked the best," Roberts said.
Two repellents Consumer Reports recommends: 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8, and Ben’s Tick and Insect Repellent Wilderness Formula Pump. Both excelled in protecting against mosquitoes and ticks.
No matter which repellent you choose, to be effective it has to be applied properly. Follow the directions on the label, and use a thin coat on all exposed skin. You can also spray on top of your clothes, but don’t apply it under your clothing.
Don’t let children apply their own bug spray. Instead, spray onto your hands, then rub onto the child’s exposed skin and face.
If you prefer not to use DEET, look for repellents made with 20% picaridin or 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus.