Natural mosquito repellents: here are which ones really work (and which don't)

What are the most effective and safest natural active ingredients against mosquitoes? Try to answer a new test from the American magazine Consumer Report

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There are now many natural-based anti-mosquito repellents on the market. But do they really work? The American magazine Consumer Reports tried to answer this question.

Mosquitoes are making a comeback and, like every year, we are looking for the most natural and effective solutions to keep them away from us and our children. But are products based on essential oils and other natural substances really useful?

The answer seems to be a bit complicated, as Consumer Reports experts suggest. Only some of the active ingredients used in the natural anti-mosquito formulations, in fact, are really effective while other plant-based substances do not achieve satisfactory results in the tests carried out by the magazine.

According to laboratory tests carried out on a number of products sold in the United States, only repellent substances registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have achieved good results. And this is no coincidence, as EPA registration guarantees that the product has been evaluated by federal regulators and consequently its safety and efficacy. The agency requires this verification for some active ingredients such as deet, picaridin and eucalyptus / lemon oil (OLE) but not for others.

Here are the results that the Consumer reports laboratory tests highlighted.


Eucalyptus / lemon oil (OLE)

This product should not be confused with lemon eucalyptus oil. In this case we are talking about what in the United States is known as OLE, an oil extracted from the gum of a species of eucalyptus native to Australia. The substance that is extracted, refined and then used as a mosquito repellent is called PMD and has proven its effectiveness against insects.

The more classic lemon eucalyptus oil, by contrast, is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the lemon eucalyptus tree. The distilled product contains several botanicals, including lemongrass and a very low and variable amount of PMD.

It is OLE in particular that works well against mosquitoes and experts also believe it to be generally safe. However, unwanted reactions such as eye and skin irritation may occur. It is also important to know that this essential oil, like many others, should not be used on children who are less than 3 years old.


Also known as Icaridin, Picaridin is a laboratory-made chemical that reproduces a compound found in pepper. It has been used in mosquito repellents in the United States since 2005 and, according to the test, spray products containing 20% ​​of it work well. Not as effective were creams and lotions based on this repellent active ingredient as well as sprays that contain it in lower concentrations.
This substance is also generally safe and only in rare cases can it cause irritation to the eyes and skin.

Botanical repellents

With this definition a series of repellents of natural origin are classified. Among the most common and used are lemongrass, peppermint, geraniol, soy and rosemary. These can be used in the form of oils or extracts from plants or even chemically reproduced in the laboratory and then inserted into the formulations of anti-mosquito repellents.

Do they work? These are products not registered with the EPA and the Consumer Reports test essentially failed them. These substances are not considered potentially dangerous and consequently the EPA has never bothered to evaluate their effectiveness, not even the manufacturers are required to demonstrate their effective validity in any way.

Tests carried out by the magazine's laboratories have shown that these active ingredients often have little effect against insects and they are also not always completely safe even if it is very unlikely that they can create important side effects. However, the presence of allergens, often in higher concentrations than other natural products.

However, many other essential oils often used against mosquitoes have not been evaluated.

Mosquitoes: the most effective essential oils to keep us from being bitten

If you are interested in knowing and experimenting with different natural remedies against mosquitoes you can read the following article.

How to protect yourself from mosquitoes: all the really effective remedies for adults and children

Fonte: Consumer Reports

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