by: Isabella bauer
With the passing of Labor Day we may have said goodbye to long summer nights, but unfortunately, we still have to worry about mosquitos – especially those carrying the Zika virus. As fear of the Zika virus persists, the CDC is not the only one keeping tabs on the virus in the U.S. Bug repellent companies such as Off! (the official insect repellent of the 2016 Olympic games) have been using the Zika virus to boost sales. Not only have bug repellent companies taken advantage of the fear of contracting the Zika virus, but condom suppliers, insecticide infused wrist band suppliers, and citronella-infused sticker producers have capitalized on the fear of Zika to promote their products. While health officials have been warning the public to protect themselves against the virus by applying bug spray and using condoms to avoid sexually transmitting the disease, the influx of choices to fight pesky mosquitoes can be confusing. So, to help you avoid spending money on an ultrasonic mosquito repellent that doesn’t actually work, here’s a guide based on CDC suggestions.
Reading the ingredient list of any product can be confusing, let alone an insect repellent. Here are a few ingredients to look for when you’re purchasing a bug repellent.
- DEET is one of the most commonly used active ingredients in insect repellents and offers protection against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, and leeches.
- Icaridin (can also be referred to as picaridin and KBR 3023) is reportedly as effective as DEET, but it does not cause irritation that can sometimes occur from using DEET-based products.
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus is derived from the lemon eucalyptus tree and the refined oil, called citronellal, from the leaves of the trees is a common ingredient that serves as a mosquito deterrent.
- IR3535, or ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate, is a synthetic insect repellent that is considered a biopesticide (a form of pesticide based on micro-organisms or natural products).
Insect repellent is easy enough to apply, right? Sure, but there are a few tips and tricks to follow to get the maximum benefits out of the product. Always be sure to read the instruction label and reapply as often as suggested. Similar to sunscreen, if you don’t reapply, you’ll get adverse effects. Except instead of a terrible sunburn, you’ll be covered with itchy welts from insects.
Natural remedies to common problems such as mosquitos are also enticing, but some natural repellent producers do not know the effectiveness of their products as well as EPA-registered insect repellents do. If you’re still unsure of which insect repellent to purchase, but know you want it to be EPA-registered, search through all EPA-registered repellents that are proven to deter insects that bite.
If you really want to deter any possible mosquito bites, spray your clothes with permethrin, or purchase permethrin-treated clothing. Permethrin is generally poorly absorbed by the skin, but if sprayed on clothing it will repel any potential flying pesks that you’d like to avoid. Be careful, however; permethrin is toxic to fish and cats, so keep it away from your furry/scaly friends.
So, next time you see a product being marketed as a solution for something (whether mosquito related or not) be weary, and do some research.