Best Bug Spray: Say Bye to Insects and Bites with our Picks
Don’t spend your precious time swatting away bugs and scratching bites. Here’s how to find the best bug sprays for you, and some top picks.
If you’ve ever zipped yourself into a tent with a hoard of mosquitos or found your legs bitten up by no-see-ums, we share your pain. The buzzing and biting can ruin even the most pristine outing or campout. But it’s not just the inconvenience that makes us want to swat away the bugs—it’s the risk of disease. Unfortunately, mosquito bites can transmit infections such as Zika, West Nile virus, and malaria. And itchy bites from any bug can get infected if you scratch them and introduce bacteria into the skin.
Below we’ve listed some of our favorite bug repellent products for keeping different kinds of irritating buggers at bay. But if you want to shop for yourself, know that picking the best bug spray comes down to asking yourself a few simple questions: What active ingredient do you want? Who’s it for? And what bugs will it work on? Find it here.
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.