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The 10 Best Bug Sprays to Use This Summer

Top picks against any pest.

As the weather gets warmer, you may have plans to spend more time outside hiking, camping or just taking a jog around the neighborhood. But as we get ready to enjoy the outdoors, mosquitoes and ticks will be back in full force, too. There’s an overwhelming number of bug repellents to sort through, and it’s hard to know which to choose. And while all repellents deter mosquitoes, not all are effective against ticks.

Don’t throw up your hands. First, take a look at the breakdown of common repellent ingredients and their ideal concentrations, below. Then check out some great products that deliver whichever ingredient you need.

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus: Research suggests that oil of lemon eucalyptus products at 30% work well against mosquitoes. However, not every product had information on repelling ticks. Just be aware of this: The CDC says oil of lemon eucalyptus provides protection against mosquitoes as long as its formulated into a repellent product; the essential oil itself is not registered with the EPA as an insect repellent.
  • Picaridin: This ingredient is modeled after a compound in the black pepper plant. Concentration matters here: Tests by Consumer Reports say that products containing lower concentrations were much less effective than higher concentrations. Some tests have found a 20% concentration works better than 5%.
  • DEET: This popular repellent has been around for decades. Although the ingredient has been a cause of concern for many, the CDC has deemed DEET safe. It works on both skin and on top of clothes, according to Consumer Reports. Some people do complain of its `smell or that it makes skin feel oily, but there are products on the market that seek to improve how it dries on the skin. DEET is equally effective at any concentration, although higher concentrations can last longer. For those who still prefer to avoid DEET, there are DEET-free repellents that are also effective.
  • Permethrin: The compound is sprayed on your clothes rather than your skin and is most effective against ticks.

For more information on products and ingredients, the EPA also has its own search tool to find government registered products and their individual concentrations. To make your outings as bug-free as possible, here are the 10 bug repellents we recommend written by Marty Munson and Milan Polk.


May 7, 2022

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Men's Health

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Depending on where you travel, you may want to pack bug spray, too. In places like Florida and North Carolina, summers get buggy, and you’ll be happy to have packed a spray on nights when you want to sit on the porch or dine outdoors.

Madison Flager and Meaghan Kenny


As a veteran of the Iraq War, I found myself struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder from which greatly impacted my mental health. In 2016, I came across the film “Wild,” an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about healing by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

LeAura Luciano


Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent is used on clothing, not skin, and it provides long-lasting protection against ticks.

Media Mentions from Wirecutter