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    Everything You Need To Know About Mosquito Repellants

    Mosquitos are a scourge and they should all die — feel free to @ me.

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    Without a doubt, mosquitos are my least favorite thing about summer.

    Bravo / Via

    Let's just say that if humans were as attracted to me as mosquitos are, I would have a very lucrative career selling Sugar Bear Hair on Instagram.

    Not only are mosquitos carriers of itchy misery, they're also carriers of diseases like West Nile virus, malaria, and Zika (to name a few). They're a very bad business, these shitty little vampires. But there are ways to protect yourself! Here are the ones that really work (as well as a few that aren't worth your time or money).

    1. First up: DEET, which could be your greatest ally in the fight against mosquitos.

    Off Outdoors / Via Instagram: @

    The chemical compound N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (commonly known as DEET) is to mosquitos what multi-page intelligence briefings are to Trump. (Sad! but true.)

    The most common question people have about DEET, though, is: How safe is it? According to this fact sheet from the CDC, not only do bug repellants that contain DEET "offer the best protection against mosquito bites," DEET is also safe for "adults, children, and infants older than two months of age." The American Academy of Pediatrics says that products with more than 30% DEET should not be used for children (and notes that products with more than 30% DEET don't offer any additional protection, anyway). At 20–30% concentration, DEET offers all-day protection.

    The CDC and the AAP both note that DEET is safe when used properly, so you should read the label thoroughly and apply it according to those instructions.

    Off! Deep Woods repellant (25% DEET) is a great option when you want to go the DEET route. Get a pack of two from Amazon for $14.44. It also comes in wet-wipe form (also 25% DEET), which is nice for targeted protection (no spray = no errant DEET mist). Get three packs of 12 wipes from Amazon for $21.42 or a pack of 12 wipes from Walmart for $4.97.

    2. But DEET isn't the only game in town: Picaridin is also a highly effective ingredient in repellants.

    Picaridin is the unsung hero of mosquito repellants (by which I mean that I, personally, had never heard of it until I started writing this guide), and it's a relative newcomer on the repellant scene, at least compared to DEET. It has only been used in the US since 2005.

    Unlike the pungent DEET, picaridin is odorless, and though it hasn't been tested as extensively as DEET, some researchers consider it as effective an ingredient (or even more so). Repellants with 20% picaridin should keep you protected from mosquitos all day.

    Sawyer repellant (20% picaridin) is available as either a lotion or a spray. Get it from Amazon for $5.49+ (available in 17 sizes/dispensers) or get a 6 oz. can from Walmart for $4.92.

    3. If you want an effective all-natural repellant, look for one with oil of lemon eucalyptus.

    Sarah / Via,

    Oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD, as its synthetic version is called) is the only essential oil that the CDC recommends as a mosquito repellant, so if you want to go plant-based and also ward of bites, get yourself some of this stuff. A 30% concentration should protect you for up to six hours.

    You can even DIY a repellant with lemon eucalyptus oil, vanilla extract, and witch hazel. Get the instructions here!

    Get two bottles of Repel lemon eucalyptus repellant from Amazon for $14.98.

    4. And rounding out the "actually effective bug repellant ingredients" is the snappily named IR3535!


    The chemical IR3535 is another DEET alternative that is considered effective (though less effective than DEET and picaridin, based on most of the material I found). One thing to note about IR3535: It's a serious eye irritant, so make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after application, and keep it away from your face.

    Products with a 20% concentration of IR3535 should provide 6 to 12 hours of protection.

    Get a bottle of Avon Skin-So-Soft repellant (19.7% IR3535, and it's also SPF 28) from Avon for $7.99.

    5. Moving on to ~fashun~: light, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs is the height of mosquito-protection style.

    Columbia Pictures

    Because mosquitos are more attracted to dark colors, and can bite through tight-fitting clothing, you should aim to dress like a chic older woman in a Nancy Meyers movie.

    6. Or turn your clothing into bug-repelling armor with permethrin.

    If you're heading into a particularly mosquito-infested area, consider investing in clothing treated with permethrin, a pesticide that binds to fabric (it becomes a repellant when used to pre-treat clothing). You can also buy a bottle of permethrin and go the DIY route, though you'll have to reapply every six washes. You can use the spray on other gear (like tents) as well. Keep in mind that clothing treated with permethrin should be washed separately from non-treated clothing.

    Get a permethrin-treated hoodie from Amazon for $44.97+ (available in sizes XS–XL and in four colors). Get a bottle of permethrin from Amazon for $9.97+ (available in three sizes).

    7. If you have a kiddo under 2 months old, keep them protected with a mosquito net.

    Jay & Josh / Via

    Insect repellants of any kind are a no-no for children under 2 months, so if you want to keep your bébés safe from skeeters, swaddle their cribs and strollers with mosquito netting.

    Get a baby mosquito net from Amazon for $6.99.

    8. Mosquitos — persistent little jerks that they are — are no match for a simple fan.


    That's right! Not only is the fan-generated breeze too strong for mosquitos to fly into, it also diffuses the carbon dioxide you're exhaling (which signals the availability of delicious blood) and makes you less identifiable to any mosquitos in the area.

    Oscillating fans are ideal for mosquito-repelling purposes, but any old fan will do.

    Get an oscillating tower fan from Amazon for $55.49 or an oscillating table fan from Amazon for $14.99.

    9. Standing water is basically Tinder for mosquitos — a nonstop breeding ground — so go ahead and kill the mood with some Mosquito Bits.

    Amazon Customer / Via, Amazon

    Was that gross? Good! Mosquitos are gross! And they love to lay eggs in standing water, so search your home and yard for any places where water might be collecting.

    If you have unavoidable standing water (like ponds or particularly damp soil), these Mosquito Bits will kill larvae in water before they turn into full-grown blood suckers. They contain Bti, a naturally-occurring (and non-toxic to humans) bacteria that kills mosquito, black fly, and fungus gnat larvae.

    Get Mosquito Bits from Amazon for $16.91.

    10. If you have outdoor lights, consider replacing the bulbs with yellow bug light bulbs, which attract fewer insects.

    TexasJeff / Via

    While yellow bulbs aren't a silver bullet (or a yellow bullet) in the fight against mosquitos, they "do not attract mosquitoes like other incandescent lights," according to the American Mosquito Control Association.

    Get a yellow bulb from Amazon for $6.48.

    11. While plenty of people swear by Thermacell, a little wand that claims to provide a 15-foot "mosquito protection zone," the (scientific) jury's still out.

    I'm going to be honest: I really want to believe in this one. An odorless little gadget that keeps mosquitos at bay (using allethrin, "a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants," which is then heated by a tiny, refillable cartridge of butane) sounds like my dream come true.

    And, to be fair, this thing had a lot of true believers on Amazon! For example:

    "I am in Central Florida surround by lakes, ponds, and rivers. Mosquitos are everywhere in the hot, humid summer. I followed the easy instructions and within the time it is supposed to be working, the area around the device started becoming free of mosquitos. I moved the device to another section in my backyard obtaining similar results. The effective time of the mosquito-free zone was closed to four hours with no wind. Under a little breeze it lasts about three hours. Great device to have when camping or hiking." —Amazon Customer

    I wasn't able to find much evidence from the scientific community about Thermacells, but the company has a satisfaction guarantee, so I'm probably going to go ahead and buy one. I'll report back.

    Get it from Amazon for $21.99+.

    Now for what doesn't work:

    12. Vitamin B supplements won't make you less attractive to mosquitos.


    The idea of a vitamin that makes one less attractive to mosquitos is highly alluring to me, a lifelong mosquito magnet. Sadly, the claim that vitamin B puts skeeters off your blood has been pretty well debunked.

    13. Citronella is a scammer.

    Super Deluxe

    According to the American Mosquito Control Association, "citronella candles have a mild repellent effect, but do not offer significantly more protection than other candles producing smoke."

    That said, they don't do any harm, so if you love the scent, burn them to your heart's content!

    Keep fighting the good fight, everyone.

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