Best Insect Repellents for Your Family
With the weather warming and days lengthening, you may already be making plans for outdoor adventures like camping, hiking, or simply hosting a barbecue to reconnect with (vaccinated) friends. Even if you’re not straying from your own backyard, protecting against the many diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes is an important precaution.
A key component of personal protection is insect repellents. That’s where Consumer Reports’ insect repellent ratings come in. This year, we have 45 repellents in our ratings, and 23 recommended ones, so it’s easy to find an effective way to beat the bugs that’s right for you and your family.
The number of bug-borne diseases is increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only are new diseases appearing—the agency says that since 2004, at least nine new mosquito- and tick-borne diseases have been reported in the U.S. and its territories—but familiar ones are increasing in number. In a recent study, the CDC estimated that 476,000 cases of Lyme disease occurred in the U.S. each year between 2010 and 2018—a significant increase from the agency's estimates of 329,000 annual cases in 2005–2010. And there’s always the possibility that previously obscure diseases, like Zika, could re-emerge as widespread threats.
“We need to continue growing our arsenal for controlling mosquitoes and ticks at the community level,” says Benjamin Haynes, a CDC spokesman. “And personal protection will always be most important.”
The good news is that there are a lot of insect repellents to choose from, such as sprays, lotions, and wipes, and they contain a range of active ingredients—that is, the ingredients that make the repellents work.
But these products are not equally effective.
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May 7, 2022
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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.
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).
Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent is used on clothing, not skin, and it provides long-lasting protection against ticks.