Bug Talk

Choosing Bug Repellent

Bugs make camping, hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities less than perfect.  When getting ready for your trip or day outside, choose a bug repellent that fits your lifestyle best!

The most effective bug repellents contain DEET.  When applied following directions, these bug products can last for up to 10 hours or more, giving you all day protection.  DEET is a chemical  but is believed by the EPA to present no health concerns or conditions when used as directed.  If spraying children, make sure to use a formula containing less than 30% DEET concentration.

A second chemical formula that repels bugs for up to 8 hours is picaridin.  Developed as an alternative to DEET, it is considered more effect for protection again flies.  There is no recommendation for use on children, but no infant less than 2 months old should have repellent applied to their skin.

Plant-based repellents are a third option when considering bug repellent.  Some of these contain synthesized plant oil such as oil of leman eucalyptus, still technically a chemical.  These products are effective for up to 6 hours.  Natural oils such as lemongrass, peppermint, and citronella are not chemicals and have not been evaluated by the EPA.  These are a natural option but are not as effective as chemically formulated repellents.  They are estimated at 30 minutes to up to 2 hours of effective protection.


Clothing is now made with insect shield properties and may be the best option for keeping pests away.  Permethrin repellent was designed for use on clothing only.  This repellent can kill ticks and can last up to 6 washings when stored in dark, airtight bags or containers.  It will not irritate the skin if applied there, but offers no benefits.

When outdoors, citronella candles and other like products work best in windless conditions.  However you choose to protect yourself and keep the bugs away, be sure to research the ingredients of any product!