Alternatives to using DEET as mosquito repellent

WASHINGTON — It’s that time of year when any time spent time outside can mean an evening of itchy mosquito bites. And with concern growing over the Zika virus, health experts say wearing insect repellent is even more important this year.

The best mosquito defense is insect repellent, but many have concerns over using DEET. Products without it tested well, said Patricia Calvo, deputy content editor of Health and Nutrition at Consumer Reports, which tested the best mosquito repellents.

“One that was highest rated was called Sawyer’s Fisherman Formula and that contains a chemical called picaridin, and the other one contains a chemical called oil of lemon eucalyptus,” Calvo said. “So those two chemicals are safer than DEET.”

Wearing the repellent on your exposed skin is most effective for preventing mosquito bites, but Calvo said you can employ alternatives around your house to prevent bug bites, such as pointing an oscillating fan in your direction on the patio or porch.

“It’s not going to be a guarantee you’re not going to get bitten, but in our tests we found it cut mosquito landings from 45 to 60 percent,” she said.

Along with cleaning your gutters and dead leaves of any standing water or moist environments, Calvo suggests draining any ponds, bird baths or baby pools — they can become stagnant mosquito breeding grounds.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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