What are the Best Mosquito Repellents Available?

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As pesky, annoying, BITING mosquitoes begin to hatch this summer, thoughts turn to how to keep our families safe.  The most effective way to ensure that we do not get bitten by backyard mosquitoes is to prevent them from coming in contact with us.

Insect Repellents

When you need to be outside in untreated areas (such as when camping or hiking) the following mosquito repellents are considered by the CDC and EPA to be the most effective when used as labeled.

  • DEET: Products containing DEET include, but are not limited to, Off! & Cutter
  • Picaridin: Products containing picaridin include, but are not limited to, Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus.
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Products containing OLE and PMD include, but are not limited to, Repel and Off! Botanicals. This recommendation refers to EPA-registered repellent products containing the active ingredient OLE (or PMD). “Pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus (essential oil not formulated as a repellent) is not recommended; it has not undergone similar, validated testing for safety and efficacy, is not registered with EPA as an insect repellent, and is not covered by this recommendation.
  • IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include, but are not limited to, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
  • 2-undecanone (chemical name: methyl nonyl ketone). The product BioUD contains 2-undecanone.


The US Federal EPA characterizes the active ingredients DEET and Picaridin as “conventional repellents” and OLE, PMD, and IR3535 as “biopesticide repellents,” which are either derived from or are synthetic versions of natural materials.

Generally, higher concentrations of active ingredient provide longer protection, regardless of the active ingredient. Products with <10% active ingredient may offer only limited protection, often 1–2 hours so should be reapplied frequently while outdoors.

Studies suggest that concentrations of DEET above approximately 50% do not offer a marked increase in protection time against mosquitoes.  The CDC recommends using products with more than 20% DEET on exposed skin to reduce biting by ticks that may spread disease.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows companies to apply for permission to include a new repellency awareness graphic on the labels of insect repellents that are applied to the skin (Figure 2-01). The graphic helps consumers easily identify the time a repellent is effective against mosquitoes and ticks. EPA reviews products that apply to use the graphic to ensure that their data meet current testing protocols and standard evaluation practices. Use of this graphic by manufacturers is voluntary. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/repellency-awareness-graphic.


Mosquito Buster Crew 2018


As always if you have a problem with, or even just a question about, mosquitos (or any other yard pests) feel free to call Damien Carboneau—“The Mosquito Guy” anytime at 574-527-8852. He’ll be happy to speak with you!

At Indiana Mosquito Busters we want to help you live MOSQUITO and TICK FREE.