Summer is upon us and so is our ongoing problem with mosquitoes and other pests. Although minor by comparison to the concerns gripping the country, insects cannot be ignored, especially when people and pets are spending more time outdoors. Mosquito bites can transmit diseases, including Zika, Dengue Fever and West Nile Virus. In pets, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm, West Nile Virus and Eastern equine encephalitis.
For years, DEET has been one of the most effective bug repellents in use. It is recommended by the CDC and the EPA, but some consumers are concerned about using neurotoxins on themselves and their furry friends. One alternative synthetic insecticide that is moving up the ranks (Consumer Reports rated it more effective than DEET products), is picaridin. It mimics the chemicals in a plant related to the pepper plant. Although it’s a relatively new product, it carries fewer hazards than DEET. Products with 20 percent picaridin offer the best results.
For consumers who prefer natural products, the CDC and EPA’s list of safe and effective repellents also includes a proven natural alternative, lemon eucalyptus oil. Consumer Reports found products containing 30 percent lemon eucalyptus oil were more effective than those containing DEET but offers shorter protection times and exclude effectiveness on ticks. Consumers should use products with picaridin or DEET if they want to repel ticks. PMD (p-methane-3,8-diol), the synthetic relation to eucalyptus oil is also used in many brands and is just as effective and safe.
The top-rated lemon eucalyptus oil repellent is Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent. It is effective for people and pets. Pet owners should be aware that the product has a very strong odor and is harmful if swallowed so, for pets, experts recommend putting a drop on their collars to see how they react to the scent before applying more of the product to their collars.