Consumer Reports lists mosquito repellents that best protect against Zika

Repellents with DEET last longer, Consumer Reports says

By Kumasi Aaron - Reporter/The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health announced on Tuesday there are two new cases of Zika in Florida, including one in St. Johns County. And on the same day, Consumer Reports released its list of which insect repellents work best when it comes to keeping mosquitoes away.

Consumer Reports found that repellents with DEET in them work best and last longer, and natural repellents don’t last as long.

Marah Clark, an entomologist at Jacksonville’s Mosquito Control Division, echoed Consumer Reports’ findings.

“DEET is considered the gold standard. It is the longest-lasting repellent according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” Clark said. 

Consumer Reports looked at 16 repellents with a range of active ingredients, including conventional chemicals like DEET, synthetic plantlike compounds like those found in nature and plant oils like citronella and rosemary.

The conventional chemicals kept mosquitoes that can spread Zika away for at least seven hours and oil base repellents kept them away for an hour or less, according to Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports’ top three picks each has a different chemical: DEET, picaridin or a eucalyptus derivative.

“A lot of plants have chemicals in them and oil of lemon eucalyptus has a chemical in it that repels mosquitoes,” Clark said. “This is an oil you are going to have a little bit of that but the smell isn't as bad as DEET and you're not worrying about putting a potent chemical on your skin.”

Fighting mosquitoes and Zika is about more than what people put on their skin, Denis Wartan, general manager of Tad’s Pest Control, said. It’s also about what people put on their yards.

“(What) we're doing is we are treating the foliage where the Aedes Aegypti, which is the mosquito that vectors Zika, would be going. We’re going to treat standing water, empty saucers and things and speak to our clients about how to keep themselves safe,” Wartan said.

Anyone who wishes to ask Mosquito Control to inspect or spray their property or neighborhood can contact the city of Jacksonville at 630-CITY (2489). Requests can also be made online.

Here’s are some tips Consumer Reports provided from the EPA on how to use insect repellent:

  • Apply repellents only to exposed skin or clothing -- never put it on under clothing. Use just enough to cover and only for as long as needed; heavy doses don’t work better.
  • Don’t apply mosquito repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin or immediately after shaving.
  • When applying repellent to the face, spray it on hands, then rub it on the face. Avoiding eyes and mouth, and use sparingly around ears.
  • Don’t let young children apply. Instead, an adult should put it on their own hands, then rub it on. Limit use on children’s hands, because they often put their hands in their eyes and mouths.
  • Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating or drinking.
  • At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.

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