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Which Insect Repellent is Right for You?


By: Alexandra Dunn, Assistant Administrator
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Spring is in full swing! With warmer temperatures and nature in bloom, it’s time to get ready for more outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and enjoying barbecues. Spending time outside also means pesky pests like mosquitoes and ticks.

Itchy bites can spoil an otherwise pleasant afternoon, and you can even get sick from mosquito and tick bites. Insect repellents can reduce the risk of bites and help prevent disease. Under the law, before registering a repellent, EPA is required to review scientific studies and data to make sure that there is evidence that supports the effectiveness of the product.

It is also important to note that some repellents do not have to be registered and the producers of these repellents are not required to submit supporting evidence to the EPA. These products do not require registration because the active ingredients in these products were reviewed by EPA and it was determined that they posed minimal risk to human health.

Since not all insect repellents operate the same way, it’s important to find one that best suits your needs. With so many products available, how can you find the repellent that is right for you?

Consider these factors when choosing a repellent:

  • Do you need protection from mosquitoes, ticks or both?
  • How long will you be exposed to mosquitoes, ticks or both? Be sure to use a product with a protection time that fits your activity.
  • Are you interested in a particular active ingredient?

Online resources can help you refine your search, including EPA’s insect repellent search tool and the National Pesticide Information Center’s (NPIC) Insect Repellent Locator. Specify what you’re looking for and these search tools will return a selection of products that meet your needs.

For safe and effective use of pesticide products, always read the product label before using the product. You can learn more about insect repellents on EPA or NPIC's insect repellent web pages.

Find the right insect repellent for you and enjoy the great outdoors!