Well before he hears the sound of hungry mosquitoes, naturalist Jeff Main takes every precaution against insects and the serious … even deadly … diseases they can carry. Jeffrey Main "There's West Nile associated with mosquitoes, and there's Lyme disease, of course, which is associated with tick bites." Main always wears light-colored loose clothing with long sleeves. He tucks his pants into his socks. And he uses insect repellent, avoiding, if possible, those with the chemical DEET.
Consumer Reports has tested both types of repellents - those with DEET and plant-based ones without DEET. "We think that DEET is really an insect repellent that you should use as a last resort. And you should certainly not use it in any concentration of more than 30 percent." Consumer Reports tests show 30 percent DEET works very well, so products, such as Jungle Juice 100, with nearly 100 percent DEET aren't necessary.
And with DEET exposure there are possible side effects, like skin blisters, slurred speech, and even seizures or coma. Also avoid devices that clip on and use a fan to circulate repellent around you. Products like Off Clip-on contain the active ingredient metofluthrin, which Consumer Reports says can pose risks to your nervous system. And their tests, done several years ago, found it doesn't work very well anyway.
Consumer Reports says instead consider using repellents that contain no DEET, like Repel's Lemon Eucalyptus or products with picaridin, which is similar to a compound in black pepper.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.
All Consumer Reports Material Copyright ©2014 Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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