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The Right Repellent: Say Goodbye to Bugs

Want to avoid those itchy bug bites this summer? Insect repellent is your best defense. Look for one of these ingredients.

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Black legged tickPhoto: Shutterstock


If you buy insect repellent, chances are it has DEET. According to a 2002 study, a product containing 23.8 per cent DEET provided five hours of protection from mosquito bites; 20 per cent DEET provided almost four hours.

DEET may be used on children who are older than 2 months, but adult supervision is required when applying the repellent to children. DEET shouldn’t be applied to young children’s hands, around the eyes or on the mouth. Don’t apply DEET at the same time as you apply sunscreen as well – it could result in a toxic buildup of DEET.

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Woman spraying repellent on her legsPhoto: Shutterstock

2. Picardin

The insect repellent ingredient Picardin is a newer one here, but has been used in Europe for years. Studies suggest it is as effective as DEET, with less risk of skin irritation. It’s an odourless repellent and is safe for infants and children as well.

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Lemon eucalyptus plantPhoto: Shutterstock

3. Lemon eucalyptus oil

According to studies, this strong-smelling, natural repellent protects against mosquitoes, midges and ticks as effectively as repellents containing low concentrations of DEET. The downside is its effects last only about half as long, so you’ll need to reapply often.

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Woman asleep in bed Photo: Shutterstock

4. Permethrin

Spray this product on your clothes, netting and bedding. Although it’s ineffective on skin, this plant-based repellent binds with fabric fibres to repel numerous insects, including ticks and mosquitoes. Using it together with a DEET repellent provides near 100 per cent protection against insect bites. One application lasts weeks.

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Homemade insect repellentPhoto: Shutterstock

5. Homemade Repellent

You can make your own repellent by mixing 15 to 20 drops of lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass and citronella essential oils, resulting in an ounce (25 millilitres) of carrier oil. Reapply often.

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