Mosquito Repellent: Discover All Options (What Actually Works)

 Carbon dioxide attracts mosquitoes. Every time you exhale, you’re emitting a plume of mosquito attractant. Add your body’s natural warmth and scent to the equation, and your barbeque has become a living, breathing mosquito feast. 

Fortunately, there are nearly as many options for combating mosquitoes as there are types of mosquitoes. Well, maybe not that many… there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes, after all. But there are plenty of mosquito repellent options for all budgets and lifestyles.

Need some help figuring out what all the buzz is about? Read on to learn about the many options currently available to repel mosquitoes. 

Ingredients

When choosing a mosquito repellent (particularly those that might come in contact with your skin), the first thing to consider is the active ingredient. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using products that contain one of the following active ingredients registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

DEET

First developed in 1946 for use by the US Army, DEET has been available to the public since 1957. There’s a reason this ingredient has remained popular for over 60 years: it works. Even the CDC recommends DEET as the most effective ingredient for repelling mosquitoes. 

Bonus: DEET also repels ticks, gnats, flies, and other insects. 

Despite the rumors, DEET (chemical name: N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) is not classified as a carcinogen. On the contrary, it is considered safe to use when applied correctly. 

Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that repellents using up to 30% DEET are safe for children two months old and older. Adults can use formulations with concentrations of DEET up to 100% without ill effect. (However, once you exceed 50% DEET, you’re not getting more protection – you’re just increasing the duration of effectiveness.) 

You can find DEET in popular products such as OFF! Deep Woods contains 24% DEET and offers up to five hours of protection against mosquitoes. 

IR3535

Don’t let the robotic series of letters and numbers scare you: this ingredient can offer up to 2 hours of protection from mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. IR3535 is also known as Merck 3535 or by its chemical name, 3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester. IR3535 is colorless, odorless, and won’t cause skin irritation. 

Nootkatone

The CDC recently discovered and developed Nootkatone for insect repellent and insecticides. Nootkatone is the natural organic compound responsible for producing the smell and taste of grapefruit. If delightful aromatics aren’t reason enough to get excited, Nootkatone offers several hours of protection when used in mosquito repellents. 

Although new products are often met with increased skepticism, this new development is good news. The EPA predicts that Nootkatone will help address increasing mosquito resistance to other ingredients currently in use. 

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD

Be careful not to confuse Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus with Lemon Eucalyptus Oil. Despite very similar sounding names, they are not the same. 

Derived from Australia’s lemon-scented gum tree, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) is EPA-registered. This means it has undergone tests validating its safety and efficacy. PMD (para-menthane-3,8-diol) is the actual repellent chemical in OLE. PMD is found in products such as Repel and Off! Botanicals. 

Lemon eucalyptus oil comes from the leaves and twigs of the lemon eucalyptus tree. It has not been tested by the EPA. Therefore, it is not recommended by the CDC for use as a repellent. However, it has been known to provide mosquito-repelling effects. 

Picaridin

If any ingredient comes close to offering the same level of defense as DEET, it’s picaridin. Along with DEET, the CDC recommends picaridin as a very effective mosquito-repelling ingredient. Unlike DEET, picaridin is odorless and doesn’t melt plastic. 

Picaridin is chemically synthesized to mimic a compound found in pepper plants. Also known as KBR 3023 (Bayrepel), it has been available in the US since 2005. If you’re looking for picaridin outside of the US, you will likely find it under the name icaridin. 

When selecting products containing picaridin, look for repellents containing around 20% picaridin. Also, note that picaridin tends to provide better protection when used as a spray rather than as a wipe or lotion. 

Although safe to use, picaridin can cause eye and skin irritation when misused. 

Pyrethrum/Permethrin

Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers. According to a recent study at Johns Hopkins University, pyrethrum repels mosquitoes by activating an odorant receptor in the insect’s nerve cells. 

Permethrin is the lab-made synthetic form of pyrethrum. It is also referred to as PMD (chemical name: p-menthane 3, 8-diol). 

Whether you use the natural or synthetic form, do not apply it to your skin. Instead, use products containing 0.5% permethrin on camping gear, clothing, shoes, and bird nets. The fabric should retain permethrin potency for at least two weeks. 

2-undecanone

Derived from the tomato plant, 2-undecanone can provide 4.5 hours of protection against mosquitoes. 

Tips for Selecting an Ingredient

The EPA offers a free database of 630 mosquito and tick repellants registered by the agency. All of these repellents contain at least one of the above active ingredients. Use this tool to find information such as the repellent’s active ingredient, hourly protection time, percentage of the active ingredient in the product formula, and the manufacturer’s name. 

(Inclusion on this list does not mean the EPA endorses these products, but that they have been registered and thus have undergone tests for safety and efficacy.)

As a rule of thumb, higher concentrations of active ingredients produce a longer protection period. Products with less than 10% active ingredient will only repel mosquitoes for 1-2 hours. Sustained-release or controlled-release formulations will typically provide longer protection times, even when they contain a lower concentration of the active ingredient. 

Note: The EPA classifies OLE, PMD, IR3535, and 2-undecanone as biopesticide repellents. This classification indicates that they are either derived from natural materials or synthetic versions of natural materials. DEET and picaridin, meanwhile, are classified as “conventional repellents.” 

Essential Oils to Keep Mosquitoes Away

using essential oils to create homemade mosquito repellent

If you’re not sure about using chemical-based repellents, essential oils can offer some natural defense against mosquitoes when combined with a few other ingredients. Plus, the smells that mosquitoes hate the most are delightful to humans.

Essential Oils Commonly Used to Repel Mosquitoes:

  • Cinnamon Oil: most effective at killing mosquito eggs
  • Citronella Oil: offers protection for up to 2 hours
  • Greek Catmint Oil: effective for 2-3 hours
  • Lavender Oil: also boasts analgesic, antifungal, and antiseptic properties that help soothe skin
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil: one of the most popular choices for repelling mosquitoes naturally
  • Tea Tree Oil: contains antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Thyme Oil: best for repelling malarial mosquitoes

Fancy a little DIY? Use essential oils to create your own mosquito-repellent sprays and balms by following our simple recipe. When creating your own blends, using multiple essential oils is more effective than using one in isolation. 

You can also try adding any of the following essential oils: Basil, Clove, Eucalyptus, Patchouli, Geranium, Cedar, Rosemary, and Peppermint. Although less effective at repelling mosquitoes on their own, these essential oils can be used in combination with the stalwarts listed above. 

Heads Up: The FDA does not regulate essential oils, making it easier for producers to sell faulty or fraudulent products. To minimize risk, always buy essential oil from a reputable source. 

Plants That Repel Mosquitoes

plants that act as natural mosquito repellent

Many plants produce fragrances that naturally repel unwanted insects such as mosquitoes.

Consider planting these flowers and herbs to repel mosquitoes:

  • Lavender
  • Marigolds
  • Lemongrass & citronella grass
  • Nasturtiums
  • Catnip
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Geraniums
  • Bee Balm
  • Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Pennyroyal 
  • Floss Flower
  • Sage
  • Allium
  • American Beautyberry
  • Lantana
  • Fennel
  • Eucalyptus
  • Camphor Tree

View our complete list of mosquito repellent plants and trees.

Related Article: Perennial plants that repel mosquitoes.

While these plants won’t eradicate mosquitoes from your garden completely, your garden design can certainly make an attractive contribution to your backyard’s mosquito defense operation!

Topical Mosquito Repellents 

Mosquito repellents applied directly to your skin are the most effective option for individualized protection. Assuming you have applied it correctly, the application method doesn’t dramatically affect the repellent’s efficacy. 

Lotions & Creams

Lotions and creams tend to last longer than sprays using the same ingredients but take a little longer to reach effectiveness. While sprays start working immediately, lotions typically take 20 minutes after application to start working.

You can easily find natural and chemical options in stores. The effectiveness will come down to the active ingredient. Keep an eye out for other attractive qualities such as fragrance and sweat/splash resistance. 

You can also find topical mosquito repellent as a balm or ‘stick’ (like deodorant). This method of application will work similarly to applying a lotion or cream. 

Sprays

mosquito repellent spray

Of all the mosquito repellents detailed here, bug spray is, without a doubt, the most popular option. As with lotions, many natural options have recently joined the DEET and picaridin-based classics. 

Classic Options: 

  • Coleman Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
  • OFF! Family Care Picaridin 
  • Proven Insect Repellent 

Some Natural Options:

  • Bug Soother Spray
  • Murphy’s Lemon Eucalyptus Bug Spray
  • Kinfield Golden Hour DEET-Free Repellent

Whichever route you choose, be careful when applying spray in windy conditions, as this could impact your ability to give yourself an even application. 

Sunscreen

The CDC does not recommend using pre-combined sunscreen/mosquito repellents (although these are available for purchase). Sunscreen can interfere with the effectiveness of mosquito repellent, so use different products and be mindful of the order in which you apply them to your skin. 

Apply sunscreen first, followed by mosquito repellent. Keep in mind that your sunscreen and your mosquito repellent might offer differing durations of protection. In addition, in some cases, mosquito repellent can reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen, so use your best judgment when protecting yourself from both sun and mosquitoes. 

Wipes

Mosquito-repellent wipes allow for a more precise application than aerosol sprays, particularly in windy settings. These wipes are easily portable but individually wrapped, so the monetary and environmental costs add up more quickly. 

But suppose you’re looking for an excellent on-the-go option. In that case, you can find mosquito-repellent wipes using a variety of active ingredients: picaridin (Natrapel Wipes), DEET (Off! Deep Woods Towelettes), or essential oils (Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Repellent Wipes). 

Clothing to Deter Mosquitoes

loose-fitting clothing can act as mosquito repellent by keeping them away from skin

The less skin you expose to mosquitoes, the less biting area they’ll have for their next feast. Simple, right? If you’re looking for an easy at-home defense, wear loose-fitting, dull-colored clothing covering your arms and legs. 

But if you want to increase your layers of protection, consider buying clothing pre-treated with permethrin. Many outdoor brands such as Jack Wolfskin offer lines of mosquito-proof clothing. Although these items can be expensive, mosquito-proof clothing is a good defense option for people with sensitive skin. 

You can also treat camping clothes with permethrin yourself. (Be sure to spot-check before applying anything to your entire wardrobe!) If you’re headed down the DIY trail, make sure to treat clothing 24-48 hours in advance of travel. 

Permethrin-treated clothing will retain its repelling abilities after repeat laundering, but you will have to retreat your clothing at some point (check the product label for details).  

Wearables

In addition to clothing, many new accessories promise to protect wearers against mosquitoes. But questions of fashion aside, do any of these accessories actually work? Read on to find out!

Bracelets

Mosquito-repellent bracelets are plastic or leather bands that have been treated with some kind of repellent (from DEET to essential oils). The sales pitch for this accessory is that ‘when you wear one of these bracelets, you enjoy personalized protection without having to smother your skin with sticky sprays or lotions.’  

However, bracelets treated with mosquito repellent offer very little protection. Mosquito repellents only protect the surface to which it is directly applied. So one of these bracelets might protect your wrist, but it won’t shield your forearm from bites. 

Clips

Several companies now offer mosquito-repelling clips you can attach to your backpack or belt loop. The design of these clips ranges from simple to complex. On the simpler end of things are clips that resemble car air fresheners. These clips use the scent of essential oils to repel mosquitoes. Like the bracelets mentioned above, these clips won’t cause any harm… but they probably won’t help much either. 

Recently, clip-on protection has become more elaborate (and perhaps more effective), promising to diffuse essential oils. Products such as the OFF! Clip-On Mosquito Repellent contains a tiny battery-powered fan that circulates odorless repellent in the air around you. 

While on, these clips offer protection for up to 12 hours. However, if you change locations, you will need to wait a few minutes for the protection to build up.  

Netting 

Of the accessories on this list, wearable mosquito nets will offer you the most protection (even if you lose some fashion points in the process). Also, try wearing a head net to protect your face from mosquito bites, particularly if you are warry about getting repellent spray near your eyes. 

Is it more than just your face bugging you? Take this defense mechanism a step further and purchase a full-body mosquito suit. Made out of breathable mesh, these roomy suits will armor your entire body against bugs. 

When considering wearable netting, keep in mind two things: 1) Always check for holes before wearing – you don’t want to trap a mosquito inside of the netting; 2) Make sure the netting does not rest directly against your skin as mosquitoes can still bite through the netting. 

Patches

What if you could repel mosquitoes by simply sticking a patch on your arm… or the arm of your very fidgety child? Sounds like a summertime dream come true! However, the convenience of mosquito-repelling patches comes with a cost. Similar to bracelets, patches will keep mosquitoes away from that specific area of skin but not the area beyond the patch. 

This ineffectiveness doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase patches featuring a wide variety of popular cartoon characters. (Unfortunately, wearing a Yoda-themed patch will repel mosquitoes as effectively as using the Force.) 

Wristbands

A little higher-tech than bracelets, refillable wristbands such as those sold by European company PARA’KITO claim to keep mosquitoes away by diffusing essential oils that naturally repel mosquitoes. 

At first glance, this product sounds more effective than the patches or bracelets. Surely a repellent diffused in the air is more effective than a repellent located on a single point of skin? Probably! But it depends on the efficacy of your chosen essential oils.  

PARA’KITO’s model claims to hold enough essential oil to diffuse for up to 15 days, which sounds great if you’re doing some backcountry camping and don’t want to lug little bottles around with you.

Mosquito Repellent For The Yard

using mosquito repellent fogger for yard

In addition to the bevy of personal-protection options, there are many options for guarding your entire lawn, deck, or patio against mosquitoes. Many of these mechanisms use larvicide, an insecticide that explicitly kills mosquito larvae before hatching into adults. But read on to learn about the full range of options. 

Foggers

As the name suggests, foggers create a “fog” of mosquito-killing larvicides and adulticides. When shopping for a fogger, you can choose between thermal foggers (powered by propane, electric, or a combination of electric and gas) or cold foggers (electric powered). And if you’re not into DIY, you can hire a professional to fog your backyard. 

Mosquito foggers offer peak effectiveness for up to 72 hours. Foggers provide a temporary fix rather than a long-term mosquito eradication. Plus, this method will only kill mosquitoes who directly contact the fog while flying. 

Once the fog has settled (about ten minutes) it is supposedly safe for adults, children, and pets to return to the backyard. (The chemicals used in foggers are weaker than agricultural pesticides.) That being said, you probably still want to keep your pets from ingesting anything that came into contact with the fog.

As with any time you apply chemicals to your backyard, consider the wider effects before you start applying. Foggers indiscriminately kill bugs. So while they might kill mosquitos, they could also kill beneficial insects – including bees. 

Granules

Mosquito Bits work great for water features

Mosquito granules (or bits) attack unhatched larvae. As such, you’ll want to spread granules before the start of mosquito season to achieve peak effectiveness. You can reduce numbers by applying granules mid-season, but you won’t see as comprehensive of results. 

These granules are primarily designed to tackle areas of standing water where mosquito lay their eggs (such as ponds or the curve of a water spout). You can apply these granules to moist ground if it is likely to stay wet for a long time. 

The active ingredient of the leading mosquito granule product (Summit Mosquito Bits Quick Kill) is an EPA-registered bacteria called BTI, short for Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies Israelensis. Nontoxic granules are also available and seem to provide similar, if less consistent, results. 

Mosquito Dunks 

Mosquito dunks work similarly to granules. Essentially, you target larvae by adding mosquito dunks to standing water. 

Shaped like tiny donuts, these pellets are a biological pesticide also made from BTI. Mosquito dunks tend to remain effective in stagnant water for about a month. Mosquito granules, on the other hand, attack larvae almost immediately but stop working after one to two weeks.

Mosquito Killer FizzTabs, such as those sold by BioAdavanced, do the same thing as mosquito dunks. These patented bi-layer tablets offer a slower release than their donut-shaped peers and offer protection for up to two months.  

The Terro No Mess Mosquito Larvacide Pouches work on the same concept. Add a pouch to stagnant water. When it dissolves, it will kill mosquito larvae. 

Liquid Barriers 

The majority of liquid barriers use a garlic-derived formula to repel mosquitoes. A repellent rather than an insecticide, a liquid barrier will not kill mosquitoes or their larvae. This natural product is safe for children and pets. Plus, it does not produce harmful fumes. 

Apply it to your grass using a pressure sprayer. Although the undiluted liquid smells strongly of garlic, the scent disappears a few minutes after you apply it to your lawn. 

Mosquito Barrier Liquid Spray Repellent was one of the first mosquito barrier products on the market (and has remained trusted since 2001). Unlike many of the options for lawns and gardens, this liquid barrier is safe for bees and butterflies. Once applied, this liquid garlic will repel mosquitoes for about a month.

Lawn Insecticides

Similar to liquid barriers, lawn insecticides are sprays applied to your entire backyard. However, lawn sprays use chemicals such as permethrin to kill mosquitoes (as well as ticks, fleas, ants, and more) on contact. After the initial kill, lawn insecticides provide up to one month of mosquito-repelling powers. 

You can apply this spray to decking and fencing in addition to some vegetation. When using chemical-based sprays, be careful not to apply them to food crops as they often have a long residual period. 

When deciding on the best mosquito repellent for your backyard, consider that lawn insecticides kill bugs indiscriminately, meaning you could be killing vital bees and butterflies along with pesky mosquitoes. 

Low-Tech Mosquito Traps 

Mosquito traps lure mosquitoes by releasing carbon dioxide, mimicking human breath. Once trapped by adhesive glue, bag, or netting, the mosquitoes eventually die. 

Although the emission of carbon dioxide is a key factor in attracting mosquitoes, it’s not the only reason mosquitoes flock to human flesh. These low-tech traps don’t mimic the scent or temperature of the skin. So while the traps might lure the mosquitoes across an empty backyard, the mosquitoes will likely abandon the artificial lures once the badminton game gets going. 

Burners 

If you’re looking to combine mosquito repelling powers with an outdoorsy ambiance, consider candles, oils, incense, and torches. Although probably not your most potent defense against mosquitoes when used in isolation, these ‘burners’ can provide an extra layer of protection for your yard, patio, or deck.  

Candles

candle burning that helps repel mosquitoes

Citronella candles are a staple of the American outdoors, used since the late 1800s. (The sight of a citronella candle bucket is one of the first indicators of summer.) But do they actually work? 

Candles do not repel mosquitoes. Instead, they release carbon dioxide and heat… which attract mosquitoes, as you may have gathered. Yes, ingredients such as citronella and lemongrass might offer some protection against mosquitoes, but using those ingredients in lit candles will likely negate any repellency properties. 

So if you’re using a candle, place it away from you. Candles work best in confined spaces, such as enclosed patios or indoors. 

Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence to suggest that citronella candles are much more effective than plain candles. (Using a beeswax candle doesn’t make a difference either.)

Remember: Never leave an open flame unattended, and keep an eye out for babies, young children, and pets.

Coils 

Mosquito-repelling coils have been around since the early 1900s, when they were made using a paste of dried pyrethrum. Nowadays, you can purchase mosquito coils that contain plant-derived substances and pyrethroid insecticides. 

Depending on the active ingredients, the smoke from a smoldering coil will either kill or repel mosquitoes. Unfortunately, mosquito coils lose effectiveness in breezy conditions, regardless of the active ingredient. 

While mosquito coils may provide an aesthetically pleasing option for repelling mosquitoes, you might want to consider the health risks posed by these smoldering devices. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that burning one mosquito coil releases the same level of particulate matter as burning 75-137 cigarettes. 

Incense

Incense operates the same way as mosquito coil, just in a different shape. Available as a stick or cone, incense provides minimal protection against mosquitoes – especially in breezy conditions.

Natural incense mosquito repellents use scents derived from sources such as citronella, lemon balm, and cedarwood. Although this option might make your yard smell better, the incense won’t significantly reduce the mosquito population. 

Torches

Mosquito torches release repellent oil as a smoke. (Citronella oil and eucalyptus oil are the most readily available ingredients.) Torches are odorless and produce less smoke than incense or coils.

Although they can create a festive atmosphere, these torches only offer a two-meter range of protection. And, like the above options, any amount of wind will significantly reduce the torch’s efficacy. 

Do not use citronella torches indoors. 

Mosquito Machines

If you’re the kind of person who wants to spend lots of money on fancy mosquito-killing equipment, the machines are out there available for purchase. But use caution before purchasing an expensive device or gadget, as not all mosquito machines are created equally. 

Fans

Mosquitoes are weak flyers, which means that moving air can help keep them from landing on your skin. Also, moving air disperses chemical cues such as carbon dioxide, making it more difficult for mosquitoes to locate potential victims. 

If the breeze isn’t blowing and you want to get technical, several companies now offer fans specifically designed to repel mosquitoes. Products such as the Treva Chemical-Free Table Top Bug Repellent/Deterrent Fan use fan blades with holographic patterns, which supposedly disorient mosquitoes. 

But a regular fan for outdoor use will also do the trick, so you’re probably better off saving your money.

Lights

Mosquitoes rely on light when navigating from meal to meal (or arm to arm, as the case may be). But does the type of light impact the level of attraction? 

Some backyard enthusiasts claim that blue light (the light produced by LED bulbs) attracts more mosquitoes than light from yellow bulbs. However, there is not much hard evidence to suggest changing your lightbulbs will offer a reliable defense against mosquitoes. (We’ll discuss this more in a bit, but – spoiler alert – UV light does not attract mosquitoes.)

String lights provide an attractive addition to your backyard, deck, or patio. But can they repel mosquitoes as well as illuminate your s’more assembly station? 

A new product by TIKI Brand promises they can. These lights, integrated with pods containing BiteFighter repellent fluid, supposedly shield a 330 sq ft area for as long as 200 hours. A 36ft strand of lights costs $159. 

High-Tech Mosquito Traps 

In addition to the low-tech traps discussed earlier in this article, many high-tech traps now exist on the market. 

Leading the business of high-tech mosquito traps is a brand called Mosquito Magnets. These traps attract mosquitoes by converting propane into CO2 mixed with octenol. 

Mega-Catch is also a propane-based trap that claims to lure, trap, and kill mosquitoes and disrupt breeding cycles. These traps attract mosquitoes from up to 90 ft away by using a variety of questionable attractants: octenol air plumes, UV light, infrared light, movement, vibration, heat, and pulsing LED light displays. Mega-Catch traps range from $120 to $900, 

with models available for both indoor and outdoor use. 

SkeeterVac, meanwhile, uses vacuum suction to pull mosquitoes into a sticky paper. This machine is also propane-powered and can cost over $600. 

Thermacell

Thermacell is a much-hyped option currently taking the mosquito market by swarm. This company manufacturers spatial repellents that provide coverage for an entire area rather than individuals. 

How? Users insert a small, repellent-saturated mat on top of a heat source (powered by either butane cartridges or lithium-ion batteries). The heat disperses this repellent into the air, creating a “zone of protection” (according to Thermacell’s website). 

Thermacell offers many models with prices ranging from $25 to $900. These trendy devices offer odorless protection but lose efficacy once exposed to a breeze. 

Video

Thie video shows a man hiking in the woods and how effective the Thermacell is (it seems to have a negligible effect and didn’t eliminate them):

Ultrasonic Devices

Ultrasonic mosquito repellent devices emit high-pitched frequencies intended to mimic the sound of predators. In theory, while this is a good idea, the American College of Physicians and the Federal Trade Commission have determined that ultrasonic devices don’t repel mosquitoes. 

Despite these definitive nay votes, there are a variety of devices that promise to repel mosquitoes by utilizing ultrasonic technology:

  • Apps
  • Wall Plug-Ins (similar to doorbells) 
  • Watches

Unfortunately, changing the device from which you project high-pitched frequency into the air will not change the fact that ultrasonic cues don’t repel mosquitoes. 

Zappers

Electric bug zappers use ultraviolet light to attract flying insects. Despite manufacturers’ claims to the contrary, UV light does not attract mosquitoes. 

In fact, a study out of Notre Dame showed that only 4% to 6% of the bugs killed over a season were mosquitoes. In addition to not repelling mosquitoes, zappers kill other insects vital to local environs (particularly moths and beetles – a cornerstone of songbird diets). 

Travel Options

Summer is peak travel time as well as peak mosquito time. But don’t let a fear of itchy red bites keep you at home this summer. Instead, check out these mosquito repellent guidelines for traveling.  

Airplane-Approved Repellents

Before packing mosquito repellent for your next big trip, make sure it meets air travel regulations.  

If you are bringing a spray or lotion in your carry-on luggage, make sure the container does not exceed 3.4 ounces. For checked luggage, make sure the container does not exceed 17 ounces. Per Federal Aviation Administration rules, the total quantity cannot exceed 68 fluid ounces.  

If you are bringing spray in an aerosol can, make sure the release device (button/nozzle) is protected with a cap. 

Even though liquid repellents containing picaridin are considered flammable liquids, you can bring them on the plane so long as they adhere to size and quantity limits for liquids. 

Camping

When you’re spending extended amounts of time in the great outdoors, you’re increasing your chances of encountering mosquitoes. 

If you’re sleeping somewhere exposed to the open air (this includes open windows without window screens), consider using a bed net. Similar to the wearable nets detailed earlier in this article, bed nets are mesh fabrics that physically block mosquitoes from entering a particular area (in this case, your bed). 

If you’re using a bed net, follow a few guidelines for maximum efficacy:

  • Tuck nets under your mattress if they don’t reach the floor. 
  • Treet nets with pyrethrum or other pyrethroid insecticides. 
  • Don’t sleep directly against the side of the net, as mosquitoes can still bite through the netting. 

Nets, particularly when sprayed with insecticides, can be very flammable. So keep your net away from open flames! 

Other Precautions

If you’re traveling to an area with a high risk of mosquito-borne disease, the CDC strongly recommends using DEET as well as other regulated protections. (When applied correctly, mosquito repellents containing DEET are safe for humans over the age of 2 months.)

Protecting Your Babies from Bites

mosquito bites on a baby

Even adults find mosquito bites uncomfortable, so how do you protect your baby? 

The CDC recommends dressing babies and children in clothing that fully covers their arms and legs. You can also use mosquito netting to cover baby strollers or playpens. If you are very concerned about exposing your baby to mosquitoes, avoid bringing them outside during peak mosquito times (dusk and dawn).

Many companies sell mosquito-repellent bracelets and patches for children and babies. However, to reiterate what we said earlier: these accessories provide minimal protection.

In terms of lotions and sprays, there are many options for babies and small children. Babyganics offers a Natural Insect Repellent made using essential oils derived from soybeans, rosemary oil, citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, cedarwood, and geraniums. Tiger Balm Mosquito Repellent is also DEET-free and uses citronella oil as its active ingredient. 

Do not use OLE or PMD on children under the age of three. Also, never spray repellent directly onto your baby’s face. Instead, spray repellent on your hand first, then gently pat it on your baby’s face. 

Worried about other potential side effects? Rember: Neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the Food and Drug Administration regulates essential oils. This doesn’t necessarily mean essential oils are unsafe; it just means they have not been tested for safety or efficacy. 

Mosquito Repellents for Dogs & Cats

What about the furry friends? Unless you’re fluent in meows and barks, you need to know the product is safe before applying it to your household pet. 

Collars are a popular option for defending pets against fleas and ticks. Some of these collars claim to offer protection against mosquitoes as well. But like the wearable accessories for humans, these collars will likely only protect your pet in the area immediately surrounding the collars. 

Wondercide offers a natural mosquito spray for dogs and cats. (You can also spray Wondercide on dog houses and cat beds.) This spray uses essential oils to repel and kill mosquitoes, meaning it’s safe to apply to chew toys as well as fur. Wondercide also protects against fleas and ticks, which is definitely something to woof about. 

Although it takes a good amount of spray to work consistently well, Skeeter Screen Pet Spray is registered by the EPA. 

If you’re looking for a DIY option, you can use a diluted apple cider vinegar spray for your pets. (But don’t add vinegar to their water as doing so could cause upset stomachs.) 

What Actually Works

Although it can be tempting to throw your money at blinking lights and supposedly high-tech machines, the most effective ways to repel mosquitoes are also some of the simplest. 

Top Tips for Repelling Mosquitoes:

  • Remove standing water 
  • Apply a spray or lotion containing at least 30% DEET
  • Sit in front of a fan

Sprays and lotions applied directly to the skin will provide the most effective individual defense. And despite its controversy, DEET remains the most effective of the active ingredients registered by the EPA.

References

Nootkatone Now Registered by EPA: www.epa.gov/pesticides/nootkatone-now-registered-epa

Number of species, 200 in North America, CDC: www.cdc.gov/mosquitoes/about/mosquitoes-in-the-us.html

CDC recommends DEET: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/noninfectious-health-risks/mosquitoes-ticks-and-other-arthropods