What's your best weapon against mosquitoes?

May 28, 2010 5:38:57 PM PDT
Most of us will spend some time outdoors this Memorial Day weekend. But beware. The mosquitoes are back. So what's the best way to keep them from biting? Mosquitoes and ticks. Not only are they annoying, mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus and deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease. Consumer Reports just tested repellents to see which offer the best protection.

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," he said. "So it's part of the job."

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 and deer ticks.

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

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, the mosquitoes. 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 the 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," he said. "It's very effective."

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.


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