Testing popular mosquito repellents

Testing top mosquito repellents

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – Mosquito season is in full swing and from bracelets to sprays to belt clips, there are a lot of bite-preventing products to consider.

Mosquito repellents will be in demand as heavy July rains are now producing a whole new brood of knuckle-suckers.

"There's 51 species of mosquitoes in Minnesota. Only about a dozen of them bother people," said Mike McLean with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.

To understand what repels the little biters, you need to know what attracts them.

"There are three things that a mosquito will hone in on when looking for a blood meal," said Jeff Hahn, a University of Minnesota entomologist. "Warmth is one, carbon dioxide is another, and then there's kind of a body odor that we give off."

The American Mosquito Control Association recommends three active ingredients: DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and picaridin.

But, there are a number of other active ingredients on the market all promising the same relief.

We decided to find out for ourselves how some of these new products stack up.

Mosquito Control showed us the deepest, darkest, skeeter-infested woods they could find. Only my arms—from the elbow down—and my face and neck were exposed.

For control, we spent five minutes with no repellent giving me a week's worth of bites (10 actually). And for the test, we spent five minutes with each of these products:

- OFF! Clip-On Fan with Metofluthrin, ($7.98)

- Bugables Citronella Plus Bracelet Bands, ($2.97)

- Thermacell Vapor Releasing Mosquito Repellent, ($19.79)

- Cutter Natural with Geraniol, ($4.88)

- OFF! Deepwoods with 25% DEET, ($4.85)

The bracelet was not effective. Within seconds of sitting down, there were mosquitoes that came within inches of the bracelet and sunk in for the chug. I totaled five bites in five minutes.

Every other product performed as advertised. Some mosquitoes still came around, but not a single bite. But again, that was only five minutes in virtually no wind.

Consumer Reports did a far more thorough review testing hundreds of repellents in a more controlled environment.

CR's top five scoring products were:

- Sawyer Fisherman's Formula ($8.25)

- Repel Lemon Eucalyptus ($7.00)

- Repel Scented Family ($7.50)

- Natrapel 8-hour ($8.00)

- OFF! Deepwoods ($7.00)

Mosquito experts say a higher concentration of DEET does not increase its effectiveness, it just lasts longer.


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