The best mosquito protection.

The best mosquito protection.

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 3)

This tiny spray bottle packs a wallop—one pump of the formula, which is 40 percent lemon eucalyptus oil, will singe your nostril hairs and the strong scent means cuddling under the moonlight is out. But does it keep the bugs away? The folks at the CDC knew what they were talking about when they added this active ingredient to the list of effective repellents. Whether at a backyard cookout or down in the stagnant river bottoms, Repel lived up to its name, lasting all night long with just a single application.

Ease of use: 8
Practicality: 4
Effectiveness: 70
Natural ingredient bonus: 5
Total: 87


Off! Botanicals Lotion
Price: $6.59 at
Category: chemical agent-meets-natural treatment
Active ingredient: p-menthane-3,8-diol and 7 percent DEET

The Off! Botanicals packaging touts its plant-derived formula extracted from eucalyptus leaves and twigs, but a closer look reveals that the product has a small percentage of DEET on its list of ingredients. Still, according to the EPA, Off! Botanicals isn't harmful to the environment and it can be applied judiciously without risk. Testers were thrilled to discover a mostly natural formula that could offer big-league protection: One application lasted upwards of two hours. The downside: While this lotion felt surprisingly light and nongreasy, its "garden scent" smelled like a cheap air freshener. Nevertheless, it did the trick, and we could rest easy in the great outdoors—no small feat in Memphis. The mosquitoes might hate it, but our test group gave Off! Botanicals a resounding "Amen."

Ease of use: 7
Practicality: 15
Effectiveness: 70
Natural ingredient bonus: 2.5
Total: 94.5

The author thanks Jennifer Ward, medical epidemiologist for the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department.

Andria Lisle, the author of Waking Up In Memphis, is a regular contributor at Mojo, Paste, and the Oxford American magazines.