Annoying, irritating and potentially dangerous.
Mosquito and tick bites can ruin any summer outing. And the diseases they carry, like West Nile virus, Lyme disease, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be much worse.
The good news is that the same kinds of repellents protect well against both mosquitoes and ticks.
“Many of the better performing products contain Deet at levels of 15 to 30 percent. Research has shown that Deet is safe when used as directed, even for kids and pregnant women,” said Joan Muratore, Consumer Reports Product Testing.
As part of Consumer Reports expert testing against mosquitoes, a standard dose of repellent is applied to each test subject’s forearms, then sticks each arm into a cage of 200 disease free mosquitoes of one species for five minutes. The repellent fails if there are two bites in one exposure period, or one bite in each of two consecutive sessions.
CR did not test all repellents against ticks, but previous test results and further research indicate that any product that protects from mosquito bites will also likely protect from tick bites.
CR’s two top rated repellents contain Deet -- Total Home CVS Woodland Scent Insect Repellent and Off Deep Woods Insect Repellent Eight Dry.
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Also performing well in CR’s testing were a 30-percent Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus repellent, and a 20-percent picaridin repellent. Research suggests both are safe, though Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus shouldn’t be used on children under three years old.
And to get the best protection from any of these repellents, you must apply them properly. So follow the directions on the label.
Now, you may worry about using a chemical like Deet on your children and want to go the natural route, perhaps with a repellent containing citronella or other essential oils. The US Environmental Protection Agency - and Consumer Reports - says that Deet with concentrations of 30 percent or less is safe for children, when used as directed. And CR’s tests have shown that most natural products, with the exception of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, don't perform well against mosquitoes.