Mosquitoes bugging you? These repellents work best, tests show

Consumer Reports says products with 25-30% deet most effective

SAN ANTONIO – They’re back. Blood-sucking, disease-spreading mosquitoes thrive in warm, wet weather.

“Oh, I’m seeing a lot, especially now after the rains, and I’m a magnet,” said Juan Garcia, who was enjoying a morning walk.

But, mosquitoes are more than annoying. They can spread disease like West Nile, Zika, and even Malaria made a comeback last summer.

Metro Health said its tests turned up West Nile virus last week in a mosquito pool on the city’s southwest side.

Every year, Consumer Reports tests lotions, sprays, and wipes, including plant-based repellents, on real people using real mosquitoes to find the best insect repellents.

A repellent fails if a mosquito bites twice in one 5-minute session. Or if there’s one bite in each of two consecutive 5-minute sessions.

“We currently test repellents against only mosquitoes, but in past years, it has found that repellents that work well against mosquitoes also tend to work well against ticks,” said Consumer Reports’ Catherine Roberts.

The results: the most effective repellents against mosquitoes and ticks contain 25 to 30% DEET as their active ingredient.

At the top of CR’s ratings, Ben’s Tick & Insect Repellent Wipes, Ben’s Tick & Insect Repellent Wilderness Formula Pump, and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8. All excel in protection.

If you’re concerned about using DEET, there are other options.

CR found products with 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus as good alternatives, like Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Pump. CR’s ratings also have a few high scorers that contain 20% picaridin, like the Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent Pump.

Correctly applying the repellent is just as important as the kind you use. Follow the directions on the label, and use a thin coat on all exposed skin.

You can also spray it on top of your clothes but don’t apply it under your clothing.

As for Garcia, he’s armed with repellent and ready.

“I try to protect myself best I can,” he said. “But, they’re out there.”


About the Authors

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.

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