Summertime finally has arrived in Minnesota and we are able to get outside and enjoy the many outdoor activities available. This also brings with it the exposure to mosquitoes and ticks and other undesirable pests. These pests not only are a nuisance and cause discomfort but they also carry diseases, including West Nile Virus, various forms of encephalitis, Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis. There are now several products available to help keep them at bay and allow us to enjoy the summer. whaa?
The insect repellants that are widely used and are very effective in repelling both mosquitoes and ticks are those that contain the active ingredient DEET. DEET containing products can be found in concentrations of 5-100%. The lower concentrations are as effective as higher concentrations but don’t last as long. The 5% concentration will last 1 1/2 – 2 hours while the 50% will last 5-6 hours. There is no added benefit over 50%. Serious side effects are rare and toxic and allergic reactions are uncommon. Insect repellents containing DEET can be used in children over 2 months of age although using the lower concentrations (5% is preferred – and not greater than 30%) in younger children and infants would be best. It should not be sprayed on the face, but rather be applied by hand and it should not be put on the back of the hands where the child would rub it into their eyes.
Picardin is a new synthetic insect repellent that has been used in Europe and Australia for several years and is now available in this country. It is being marketed in the United States as Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent in a 7% concentration. It has been used in a 20% concentration in Europe with its effects lasting up to 8 hours. The 7% concentration would be similar in effectiveness to 5% DEET. There has been no serious toxicity reported and it is odorless, non irritating and does not feel sticky on the skin.
Oil of lemon Eucalyptus is a natural plant based insect repellent that has been marketed by Repel and others and appears to be safe. It is effective for 1 1/2 or more hours. It can be used in children over 3 years of age.
For additional information regarding insect repellants go to www.epa.gov/repellantfinder.