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Ingredient Investigator: Picaridin in Insect Repellents

Looking for an alternative to deet? Bug sprays containing picaridin can help protect you from biting pests.

Many of the insect repellents with top ratings in Consumer Reports’ tests contain deet, which has a well-established safety record. But if you hate mosquitoes and don’t want to use deet, our tests show that you have some other safe and effective options, including picaridin.

Here, we explain what picaridin is, how well it performs in our tests, and what you need to know about its safety.

What Is Picaridin?

Picaridin is a synthetic insect repellent ingredient that has been available in the U.S. since 2005. It was created by Bayer and is based on the piperidine molecule, a chemical found in some pepper plants.

As with deet, scientists aren’t sure exactly how picaridin works to repel mosquitoes. Chris Potter, PhD, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who specializes in insects’ sense of smell, says some evidence suggests that, like deet, picaridin may repel mosquitoes on contact.

“You have these chemicals on your skin and the mosquito lands on you,” he says. “We don’t know exactly why, we don’t know what it means to the mosquito, but it doesn’t like it, and so it will jump away.”

Research also suggests that picaridin may have some effects on mosquitoes’ ability to sense odors—another trait it has in common with deet.

Continue reading the full article written by Catherine Roberts here.


September 13, 2022

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