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The best bug sprays and repellents from Business Insider

Bug spray isn't always the first thing you think of when deciding what to pack for a camping or backpacking trip. Despite being often overlooked, it's a vital addition to anyone's pack (along with general mosquito repellents) — dealing with swarming bugs or mosquito bites is never an enjoyable way to spend time outdoors.

DEET (diethyltoluamide) remains the most popular bug spray ingredient due to its effectiveness at protecting from ticks, mosquitos, other bugs, and all the diseases they carry. Decades of research prove DEET to be the best for protecting humans from these bugs, though it is toxic to aquatic creatures like fish.

Worthwhile alternatives to DEET are picaridin and permethrin. These ingredients are less toxic but likely just as effective at repelling bugs. The scientific community is still testing these alternatives, though, so DEET remains king.

While chemical bug sprays may or may not harm you, or the flora and fauna you encounter, they're highly toxic to many aquatic animals, can trash your clothes, and they just smell terrible. Some people are even allergic to them, too.

For anyone sensitive to DEET or other chemical bug sprays, we've found a few eco-friendly picks that won't hurt you or the environment as much as other sprays. Just know that DEET and picaridin are still the most effective at repelling dangerous ticks and mosquitos.

Read the full guide from Owen Burke on Business Insider's website here.

LAST UPDATED

December 3, 2023

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Effective against a wide range of insects: Sawyer Permethrin is known to be effective against mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, mites, and more than 55 other kinds of insects.

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Sawyer Products SP5432 Picaridin insect repellent spray is also very small and compact. You can easily take this insect repellent anywhere you want. This makes it an ideal option for any traveler and adventurer who wants to have a safe journey.

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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