What Bug Spray Should You Use?

Updated 5-28-2019

HomeCare Vector Program

With mosquito– and tick-borne diseases on the rise, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your family from mosquito and tick bites, in addition to other bothersome New England bugs. Modern Pest’s Homecare Mosquito, Flea, and Tick program can protect you from these annoying bugs on your property, but you won’t always be at home during the busy summer months.

Does your yard have an abundance of mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas? Modern Pest’s Homecare Mosquito, Flea, and Tick service is what you need! Call 1-800-323-7378 to get a free quote or schedule service today!

So, with all the different brands and formulations of bug sprays, lotions, wipes, and other products on the market, what should you choose?

The Top 4

There are four Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered products that have been proven to be most effective in repelling mosquitoes and ticks. They all have safety and effectiveness data and are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. They are DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and IR3535.


DEET repels ticks for about two to ten hours, and mosquitoes from two to twelve hours depending on the percentage of DEET in the product. Concentrations of DEET greater than 50% don’t offer more protection against mosquitoes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using products that are greater or equal to 20% DEET. DEET can feel greasy on the skin and gives off a distinct odor. It can also damage materials like acetate, rayon, Spandex, leather, and watch crystals. Avoid exposing plastic glasses frames and goggles to DEET.

Recommended products:

  • Off! Deep Woods, 25% DEET, 8 hours of protection
  • Repel Family Dry Insect Repellent, 10% DEET, 2-4 hours of protection


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends Picaridin. It does not irritate skin, and unlike DEET, it doesn’t have a strong odor or damage plastics and other materials. Concentrations of 5-10% picaridin are recommended for shorter protection periods, and a concentration of 20% is recommended for longer periods. It also evaporates from the skin more slowly than DEET.

Recommended products:

  • Natrapel, 20% picaridin, 12 hours of protection
  • Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent, 20% picaridin, 8 hours of protection

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus repellent originated as an extract of the eucalyptus tree. When it is refined, para-menthane -3,8-diol (PMD) results. Many products combine oil of lemon eucalyptus and PMD. Some studies have shown it to be just as effective as DEET, but its maximum protection time is shorter. Oil of Eucalyptus/PMD with a 10% concentration is recommended for shorter protection periods, and 30-40% for longer periods. It’s not recommended when the risk of West Nile Virus is high.

Recommended Products:

  • Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus, 6 hours of protection
  • Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus, 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus, 6-7 hours of protection


IR3535 can be irritating to the eyes and may damage plastics. In tests, it performed as well as DEET against mosquitos that carry West Nile but was 20% less effective against mosquitoes that carry yellow fever, dengue, and encephalitis. A concentration of 20% IR3535 is recommended for longer protection times.

Recommended product:

  • Products containing IR3535 are not widely found in America. It’s more popular in Europe, but some of Avon’s Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard products contain it as the active ingredient.

How should you be using these products to get the best protection?

  • Start by always following the directions on the label.
  • Use a product with an adequate amount of active ingredients to protect you the entire time you’re exposed to insects. The percentage of active ingredients determines the length of protection.
  • Don’t apply repellent to your skin and then cover it with clothing, Repellent should only be used on exposed skin that isn’t injured or irritated.
  • Don’t spray insect repellents directly onto your face, Instead, spray onto your hands and apply to your face, being careful to avoid your eyes and mouth.
  • When using sunscreen with insect repellent, apply sunscreen first and repellent second. Avoid using a combined sunscreen and insect repellent. The frequency of reapplication for sunscreen is greater than some bug sprays, resulting in too much repellent.

What to Do in the Event of an Apparent Reaction to Insect Repellent

If you suspect that you or your child is having an adverse reaction to an insect repellent, discontinue use of the product, wash treated skin, and call your local poison control center or physician for help. If you go to a doctor, take the repellent container with you.

The Modern Solution

It’s great to have highly-effective and long-lasting insect repellent when you’re outside and away from home. It can be a powerful weapon against contracting vector-borne diseases like Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. But when you’re home in your yard, it’s preferable to not cover yourself and your family in bug spray. Modern Pest’s Homecare Mosquito, Flea, and Tick program treats the perimeter of your yard and harborage areas against mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, and provides a meaningful reduction in their populations. So put down the bug spray, pick up the phone, and call Modern Pest to schedule service today!

For a free quote or to schedule service, call Modern Pest at 1-800-323-7378 today!