After some rainy and cold spring days, good weather is finally upon us. The good weather brings with it hiking, camping, paddling and all of the outdoor activities we love. However, the wet spring also means bugs are going to be a major problem this summer.
Best Bug Spray Options
It is hard to know what is the most effective and safest option to repel insects. There are three options: insect repellent for your skin, insect repellent for your clothes, and airborne repellents. It’s also worth mentioning that different repellents work on different insects. Most repellents combat mosquitos and ticks. While flies and gnats are less of a disease risk, they can be some of the worst pests when you're enjoying the outdoors. We will break down different options, how to apply, and their effectiveness.
Bug Repellent For Your Skin:
Deet (mosquitoes, ticks, some flies): Deet was developed in the 1940s by the U.S. Army and is the most common insect repellent in the world. Some people have concerns about using Deet; however, it has been throughouly studies and the EPA reports that it does not present a health risk to the general population.
It is one of the most effective options out there. Deet concentrations range from 10-100% 10% gives you protection for 2 hours. 100% gives you protection up to 10 hours. You only need 30% to achieve maximum protection but higher concentration levels make your protection last longer. Controlled-release Deet is a great option for limiting exposure and minimizing its damage on plastic and synthetics. We recommend that you wash hands thoroughly after use and be extra careful when spraying it around your gear.
Picaridin (mosquitoes, ticks, flies): Picaridin is the most effective against the largest range of insects. This chemical is a synthetic version of a repellent found in pepper plants and is sold as a spray or lotion. You achieve maximum protection in formulas of 20% picaridin. Spray versions repellent up to 12 hours and lotions can last up to 14 hours. Picaridin is less effective towards flies, so it might have to be applied sooner.
Synthesized Plant Oils (mosquitoes, some ticks): Synthesized plant oils are still considered chemicals but are great options for people wanting to avoid Deet. Lemon eucalyptus oil, one of the most common options in this category, helps repel mosquitos for up to 6 hours.
Natural (Nonsynthesized) Plant Oils (mosquitoes): Natural oils (lemongrass, citronella, peppermint, lavender, geranium, etc.) aren’t regulated by the EPA in terms of safety or effectiveness. These are considered less effective and need to be applied more frequently. Bug Soother, made locally, falls into this category. It is one of the best natural options on the market that combats gnats and mosquitos. It is sprayed directly to the skin and smells like vanilla. They also make candles perfect for campsites and backyards.
Wearable Insect Repellents (mosquitoes): Wearables are often natural alternatives clipped onto clothing or worn like a bracelet. They use non synthesized plant oils to repel mosiquitos. It is one of the most convenient options but it will leave areas of your body exposed.
Permethrin (mosquitoes, ticks): Permethrin is a synthetic chemical that is used to treat clothing and gear and kills insects that come into contact with it. Spray-on versions are safe to use and last up to 40 washes. Permethrin is great to use on your camping and hiking gear and will last multiple trips before needing to be treated again. It is recommended that when using this product, you spray in a well ventilated area away from cats until the formula dries. You can also buy clothing pretreated with permethrin and these last much longer than spray-on treatments. Both options will need to be laundered separately from your other laundry. Permethrin does not protect you again flies and it is recommended that you still apply repellents to your skin to get the most protection.
We hope this post will help you choose the best bug spray for you and your family. Stop in to SOKO Outfitters for bug repellent spray and clothing for your next outdoor adventure!