By Tiare Dunlap
With public health officials warning that mosquitos carrying the Zika virus could infect Americans as early as next month, preventing mosquito bites at home should be at the top of every summer to-do list.
So how can you protect yourself and your family?
According to new research from Consumer Reports, most “natural” bug sprays won’t effectively ward off the mosquitos that carry the virus known to cause birth defects.
Although products derived from oils might smell better, they don’t last nearly as long as synthetic chemical-based repellants like picaridin and DEET. If used as directed, products containing picaridin and DEET are safe for use by pregnant and even breast-feeding women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Except for oil of lemon eucalyptus, in our tests we didn’t find that any of the natural insect repellents worked very well,” Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports told WKTV. “None of them kept mosquitoes away for longer than an hour.”
Here are the top three picks for warding off the zika-spreading Aedesmosquitos, according to Consumer Reports:
• Sawyer Picaridin
• Ben’s 30% Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula
• Repel Lemon Eucalyptus
Each of the top picks contains a different key ingredient: picaridin, DEET and a derivative of eucalyptus. DEET, an active ingredient in many insect repellants, has been used since the 1940s. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DEET is safe for pregnant women and young children.