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Choosing the Most Effective Bug Spray to Stop Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes and other bugs can spread disease and drive you crazy in the wilderness. Have no fear; bug sprays are here. But before you buy something to spray on your skin, consider the pluses and minuses.

DEET-based repellants: Most experts say DEET-based repellents last the longest. A spray with a 20-30 percent concentration of DEET can keep the bugs away for one full day. But don’t go higher than 30 percent. DEET is a strong eye irritant and can even melt some plastics and damage some fabrics.

Picaridin: An ingredient called Picaridin is safer than DEET, but it doesn’t last as long. If you don’t mind reapplying every hour or so, it’s a solid choice.

IR3535: Something called IR3535, when used at a 20 percent concentration, can protect you from mosquitoes for up to eight hours. Like DEET, it’ll burn your eyes like crazy, and, at higher concentrations, can melt plastics and damage fabrics.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus: At a 30 percent concentration, oil of lemon eucalyptus is the most effective botanical ingredient. It can irritate your lungs and cause allergies to flare up, but overall it’s safer than the chemical sprays.


Mosquitoes are annoying, but they can be dangerous, too. They are responsible for transmitting blood-borne illnesses and serious diseases.

Besides wearing mosquito repellent (see above), here are a few more tips to keep mosquitoes away:

• Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat. If mosquitoes can’t find your skin, they can’t bite you.

• Wear light colors. Mosquitoes seem more attracted to dark colors.

• Mosquitoes are also attracted by some odors. Avoid fragrances in your soaps, shampoos and detergents.

• Avoid still or standing water. That’s where mosquitoes hatch.

11 Comments on Choosing the Most Effective Bug Spray to Stop Mosquitoes

  1. These tips are GARBAGE! No matter if I try these tips, or put on the absolute best bug spray, I still get 1500 mosquito bites.

  2. I hear Thermacell is the best

  3. planetAwesome // May 22, 2020 at 11:00 pm // Reply


  4. planetAwesome // May 22, 2020 at 10:58 pm // Reply

    great way to stay away from mosquitoes

  5. Backpacker Mac // September 1, 2016 at 7:03 pm // Reply

    Treating your clothes with Permethrin spray works really well. I have not had luck with Lemon Eucalyptus-I still get bit like crazy. Only high levels of DEET seem to help.

  6. Anonymous // May 16, 2016 at 9:23 pm // Reply

    Just saw an article that the CDC is saying the Lemon Eucalyptus oil is better than DEET, and does not have some of the nasty side effects. Also mentioning, that Lemon oil is used to treat allergies. I’ve also found that those bug wristbands work the best. Next time, I plan on trying the oil.

  7. Anonymous // May 16, 2016 at 7:26 pm // Reply

    Amazon sells 3M ultrathon, so does REI.

  8. Acme squirrel demolition corp. // August 7, 2015 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    Lemon eucalyptus works very well. (Added bonus, it smells good)

  9. Where do you get 3M Ultrathon lotion?

  10. Anonymous // June 3, 2014 at 4:59 am // Reply

    Permethrin spray on cloths is fabulous!

  11. 3M Ultrathon lotion, it goes on thick and stays on for hours. used it on Northern Tier last summer and it was like the bugs left the wilderness! Also treated all our dry clothing with Permethrin spray.

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