The best mosquito protection.

How to be the best consumer you can be.
July 26 2005 2:20 PM

Bug Off!

Which mosquito repellents work best?

(Continued from Page 2)

Quantum Buzz Away
Price: $9.99 at quantumhealth.com
Category: natural treatment
Active ingredient: citronella

This herbal spray, derived from essential oils of citronella, cedarwood, lemongrass, peppermint, and eucalyptus, has the American Academy of Pediatrics—who recommend it as a DEET alternative for children under age 6—on its side. Its handy pump bottle is easy to use, and, like most other sprays, it also guarantees to repel gnats, flies, and no-see-ums. But this repellent stinks—no cozying up to your honey while you're wearing it. And because it must be applied every hour, there's no chance of toning down the scent. That said, you will enjoy peace of mind while liberally spraying this concoction: Its plant-based formula contains zero chemicals. And even in Memphis, it kept mosquitoes at bay for up to two hours.

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Ease of use: 6
Practicality: 2
Effectiveness: 65
Natural ingredient bonus: 5
Total: 78

Repel Sportsmen Mosquito Spray and Wipes
Price: $6.21 at amazon.com
Category: chemical agent
Active ingredient: DEET

While Outdoor Life Network host and champion fisherman Bill Dance suggests that you use a DEET-based repellent and a permethrin-treated wardrobe whenever outdoors, he says in most cases, Repel Sportsmen Mosquito Wipes or Spray will do the trick. Per his instructions, I sprayed the back of my neck, and my head, arms, and ankles with Repel Sportsman Spray, followed by a swab of a Repel Wipe around my eyes. I recoiled from the strong scent, but his folksy advice reverberated in my ear: "I want a little odor to know that it's working. If I can smell it a little, you bet those mosquitoes can smell it a lot!"

True to Dance's claim, this 30 percent DEET formula kept the bugs away. But the leftover DEET remaining on my palms from the wipes proceeded to erase the ink from my beer bottle label, as well as the paint from a few aerosol cans in our test pile. As a result, Repel Sportsman failed to take top marks.

Ease of use: 2
Practicality: 6
Effectiveness: 70
Total: 78

Off! Deep Woods Spray
Price: $4.99 at drugstore.com
Category: chemical agent
Active ingredient: DEET

After a single whiff, one tester remarked that this repellent smells like roach killer. That comment, combined with the repellent's 30 percent DEET solution, scared off most other testers. But I was excited to test it. Despite the toxicity, Dr. John D. Huber of the Memphis Dermatology Clinic swears by this product, recommending it to his patients as well as his family—and his three children are ages 4, 6, and 8. Off! Deep Woods lived up to his recommendation—just one application, and no bites all night. But friends were repelled by our DEET aura, and you can forget about enjoying food and drink. Our sinus cavities were so dulled we couldn't taste anything—not even the cold hops in a bottle of beer. We may have been bite-free, but it took a hot bath and a good night's sleep to restore our equilibrium.

Ease of use: 8
Practicality: 4
Effectiveness: 70
Total: 82

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Spray
Price: $5.19 at drugstore.com
Category: natural treatment
Active ingredient: p-menthane-3,8-diol

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