I cannot believe it's already happened. This Memorial Day I was sitting in the grass, watching the sun set after a perfect late-spring day when I felt it: That sharp prick followed by insatiable itching. The first mosquito of the season had already bitten! Oh it's like that, is it mosquitoes? Not even June yet and you're already after me. We-he-hell, I'm not taking this sitting down. This year I'm getting my bug spray arsenal together. I've looked for ingredients that have been proven to be most effective at warding off biters. Here's what appear to be your best bets for giving mosquitoes the finger this summer.
1. Natrapel: Consumer Reports recommends using a plant-based repellent that contains at least 20 percent picaridin first before you resort to the chemical-based bug sprays. These repellents should work for about 7 hours. The CDC recommends against using picaridin-based repellents on children under the age of 3.
2. Off Family Care Smooth & Dry: If you resort to the big guns, go for a spray with 15 percent DEET. Consumer Reports found that anything more than 30 percent ain't gonna do much for you. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using DEET on infants younger than 2 months. Consumer Reports also recommends Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II, Cutter Backwoods in unscented, and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8. Surprisingly, Mother Jones magazine says moderate concentrations of DEET are safer than picaridin, contrary to its reputation.
3. Bite Blocker Extreme: If you want to avoid picaridin and DEET, there's the plant-based Bite Blocker. It uses soybeans, geranium, and coconut extracts. Testing seems to show it repels Culex mosquitoes as well as the leading brands, but is less effective at repelling Aedes mosquitoes.
4. Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Repellent: This legendary Avon product has been rumored to be a non-toxic bug repellent for decades. Skip the bath oil, which is -- well, just bath oil, after all. Avon makes Skin So Soft insect repellent with picaridin and the pesticide IR3535.
And if you hate all bug sprays and their sticky, smelly ways? Turn on a fan. When the air around you is moving, bugs can't land on you.
What's your favorite way to repel insects?
Images via dr_relling/Flickr and ©iStock.com/ MrIncredible