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Consumer Reports: Insect repellents

Posted at 8:23 AM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 11:23:47-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Tamara and her husband Demetri love spending time outdoors and hike everyday with their dog, Aria, and routinely use repellents.

"... we are very cognizant of mostly ticks, less so mosquitoes but that certainly is an issue," says Tamara Tripp.

Consumer Reports tests repellents that contain DEET or other active chemical ingredients like Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. To see how effective each repellent is, Consumer Reports enlists panelists willing to stick their arms into cages filled with disease-free mosquitoes!

"Earlier years of testing have shown that if a repellent does well against mosquitoes it generally tends to do well against ticks as well," says Consumer Reports Health Editor, Catherine Roberts.

So which repellents work best? Here's the good news: It's not about which brands performed better but more about the concentration of the active ingredients.

"We found that concentrations of DEET at 25-30% percent are really the best to keep you protected," says Roberts.

Off Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect repellent IV Dry with 25% Deet performed excellent against mosquitoes. Or CR's best buy: Ben's, with 30% DEET. If you prefer wipes CR recommends Repel Insect repellent Mosquito Wipes with 30% DEET.

"So a lot of folks are worried that DEET might not be safe but really, there's a lot of evidence to show that when you follow the directions on the label and you use it properly DEET is very effective and it's also safe," says Roberts.

Consumer Reports also tested repellents that use natural ingredients like citronella, peppermint and soybean oil to keep pests away. Unfortunately, those products performed poorly in CR's tests.