Mosquitoes bugging? Consumer Reports rates top insect repellents

Mosquitoes bugging? Consumer Reports rates top insect repellents. (WWMT/File - MGN)

Mosquito and tick-borne diseases are on the rise nationwide and the best protection is a good insect repellent.

Consumer Reports recently tested several repellents so you can have a bug-bite free summer.

Joan Muratore, Consumer Reports Product Testing, said, "Many of the better performing products contain DEET at levels of 15 to 30 percent. Research has shown that DEET is safe when used as directed, even for kids and pregnant women."

Many of the same kinds of repellents protect well against both mosquitoes and ticks.

As part of Consumer Reports expert testing against mosquitos, a standard dose of repellent was applied to each test subject's forearms. Each arm is then stuck into a cage with 200 disease free mosquitoes of one species for five minutes.

The repellent fails if there are two bites in one exposure period, or one bite in each of two consecutive sessions.

Consumer Reports did not test all repellents against ticks, but previous test results and further research indicate that any product that protects from mosquito bites will also likely protect from tick bites.

The two Consumer Reports top-rated repellents contain DEET: Total Home CVS Woodland Scent Insect Repellent and Off Deep Woods Insect Repellent Eight Dry.

A 30 percent Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus repellent, and a 20 percent Picaridin repellent also tested well.

Research suggests both are safe, though Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus shouldn't be used on children under 3-years-old.

To get the best protection from any of these repellents, they must be applied properly, so follow the directions on the label.

Now, you may worry about using a chemical like DEET on your children and want to go the natural route, perhaps with a repellent containing citronella or other essential oils.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Reports said DEET with concentrations of 30 percent or less is safe for children, when used as directed.

Consumer Report tests have shown that most natural products, with the exception of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, don't perform well against mosquitoes.

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