Bug Off!


An explosion of life arrived with the summer rains, including a bumper crop of biting, blood-sucking insects. Great news if you’re a dragonfly or a bat…not so much for us humans. These relentless creatures pierce our largest organ (the skin) with the precision of a brain surgeon and access our blood directly, often leaving itchy red welts of various sizes behind.

tiger mosquito

As annoying as that is, what’s more concerning is that many of these insects carry even smaller, nastier bugs inside them. Parasites, bacteria and viruses all looking for a warm-blooded host…like you. They don’t mind sharing with their friends and family, for they are legion. And they are relentless in pursuit of your blood.

tick

So are you feeling things crawling on you yet? Many people get the creepy-crawlies just seeing a photo or even at the suggestion of, say, ticks. Don’t fret. You have options that will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors without donating a pint of blood with every outing, let alone unduly risking a debilitating disease. You just need some PPP.

tick

Here are your 3 choices for PPP (Personal Pest Protection):

  • Skin-applied repellent
  • Clothing-applied repellent
  • Bug resistant apparel

Skin-applied repellent is probably the most controversial. While DEET has been the go-to product for decades, and the EPA deems it safe under normal conditions, but adds,”…DEET’s use has been associated with possible adverse effects.” On the other hand, many holistic or home remedies have proven useless. Luckily, there are other options registered with the EPA, such as:

  • Picaridin (KBR 3023)
  • OLE (Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus)(p-Menthane-3,8-diol); CDC Notes that ”pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus (essential oil) is not recommended. It has
    not been tested by EPA for safety and effectiveness.
  • IR3535 (3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester)
  • Catmint Oil (Refined Oil of Nepeta cateria, commonly known as catnip oil)
  • Citronella Oil

Clothing-applied repellent may seem preferable, but it’s not without issues. DEET and most of the skin-applied repellents are oily, so they may stain clothing and break down some plastic-based materials. Specifically for clothing, Permethrin is the go-to product, but it has some scary characteristics…like being a known carcinogen. Of course, used as directed Permethrin’s carcinogen levels fall below the EPA’s level of concern (LOC). Did I mention that it’s listed as highly toxic to aquatic life? Ugh. Kind of sounds like Russian roulette.

Bug resistant apparel consists of clothing impregnated with permethrin or fine mesh garments. Since we’ve covered permethrin, let’s look at mesh products. These range from a simple mosquito net to full suits of mesh. Upsides: Very cost effective, no chemicals or oils. Downsides: Not terribly fashionable, easily snagged, not practical for mountain biking.

head net

Other apparel tips include wearing light colored clothing, so you can spot ticks more easily. Compression shorts and tops may also encourage ticks to crawl on the outside, rather than up inside your clothing. Of course, neither of these things protect exposed skin.

bug suit

Bottom Line: You need to play outside, but you also need to protect yourself from potential diseases. Your choice is a personal one. Click on each repellent product’s link above to check out its EPA Fact Sheet. Following are the longest-lasting skin-applied repellents for both mosquitoes and ticks, as listed with the EPA. Each of these offer at least 8 hours of protection for both mosquitoes and ticks, some up to 14 hours. These are listed alphabetically by type of repellent.

DEET: (Note: All DEET products listed here are >98%, a very high concentration. Consumer Reports says 15-30% is sufficient and warns against possible hazards of higher concentrations. Lower concentrations are readily available, but none last at least 8 hours for both mosquitoes and ticks.)

  • B-Bite Free Insect
    Repellent Spray
  • Ben’s 100 Insect
    Repellent
  • Bug Barrier 100%
  • Everglades 100
    Insect Repellent
  • Go Ready Insect
    Repellent
  • GoReady Insect
    Repellent With
    Sawyer 100 DEET
    Formula
  • Jungle Juice 100
    Insect Repellent
    Spray / Note: 2 styles from REI and 2 from Sawyer Products offer spray or squirt.
  • Maxi DEET Insect
    Repellent / Note: 4 products from Sawyer under this name.
  • Maximum Strength
    Pump Spray Deep
    Woods OFF!
  • OFF! Deep Woods
    Sportsmen Insect
    Repellent I
  • Premium Maxi
    DEET Insect
    Repellent
  • REI Jungle Juice
    100 Insect
    Repellent Spray
    Pump
  • Rainbow Jungle
    Formula 100 Insect
    Repellent Spray
    Pump
  • Sawyer Premium
    100 Insect
    Repellent
  • Sawyer Premium
    Maxi DEET Insect
    Repellent
  • Sawyer Serious
    Protection 100
    Insect Repellent
  • Sawyer Serious
    Protection Maxi
    DEET Insect
    Repellent
  • Super Guard Insect
    Repellent
  • The 10-hour Insect
    Repellent
  • Wilson-Buzz Off!

Picaridin:

  • Avon Skin-So-Soft
    Bug Guard Plus
    Picaridin Insect
    Repellent Spray
  • Avon Skin-So-Soft
    Bug Guard Plus
    Picaridin Insect
    Repellent
    Towelettes
  • Avon Skin-So-Soft
    SSS Bug Guard
    Plus Picaridin
    Insect Repellent
    Spray
  • Bug and Tick
    Repellent
  • Centura Fly and
    Mosquito
    Repellent Spray
  • Cutter Advanced
    Outdoorsmen
    Insect Repellent/ Note: 4 products under this name.
  • Cutter Insect
    Repellent 12KT / Note: Also 15KA and 15 KP
  • Cutter Skinsations
    Insect Repellent
    Ultra Light
  • Family &
    Active-Use
    Protection
  • Go Ready Insect
    Repellent
  • Insect Guard 3023
    Insect Repellent
  • KBR 3023 All
    Family Insect
    Repellent Cream / Note: Also spray.
  • L Bug and Tick
    Repellent
  • MOZZ’CARE
    Insect Repellent
  • Natrapel 8 Hour
    Insect Repellent
    Continuous Spray / Note: Also wipes.
  • Premium Insect
    Repellent 20%
    Picaridin
  • Repel Insect
    Repellent
    Sprotsman Gear
    Smart Formula
    15% Picaridin
  • Ride Together Fly
    and Mosquito
    Repellent Spray
  • Sawyer Picaridin
    Insect Repellent
    Lotion
  • Sawyer Premium
    20% Picaridin
    Spray

IR3535:

  • Avon Skin-So-Soft
    Bug Guard Plus
    IR3535 Expedition
    Insect Repellent
    Spray
  • Avon Skin-So-Soft
    Bug Guard Plus
    IR3535 Expedition
    Insect Repellent
    Spray (SPF 30)
  • Avon Skin-So-Soft
    SSS Bug Guard
    Plus IR3535
    Expedition Insect
    Repellent SPF 30
    Sunscreen Spray
  • Avon Skin-So-Soft
    SSS Bug Guard
    Plus IR3535
    Expedition Insect
    Repellent SPF 30
    Sunscreen Spray
    Very Water
    Resistant Unscented
  • Bug Repell IR3535
    10% Lotion / Note: Also 20% aerosol and 20% spray.
  • Coleman Insect
    Repellent Aerosol
    Skin Smart

No other products listed showed 8 hours or more of effectiveness for both mosquitoes and ticks, but it might be worth mentioning OLE (Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus)(p-Menthane-3,8-diol), since it has shown up to 6 hours of effectiveness in these products:

  • Citrapel Lotion
    Insect Repellent
  • Citrepel Lotion
  • Fite Bite 6 Hour
  • Repel Essential
    Insect Repellent
    Lotion / Note: Also in pump spray.

For even more information, check out these additional links:

CDC Recommendations

EPA: Right Repellent

EPA Registered Insect Repellents

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please read and follow all directions. Keep all insect repellents away from infants, breastfeeding moms and pregnant women.

 

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