CDC evaluation of information contained in peer-reviewed scientific literature and data available from EPA has identified several EPA registered products that provide repellent activity sufficient to help people avoid the bites of disease carrying mosquitoes. Products containing these active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection:
- DEET (Chemical Name: N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethly-3-methyl-benzamide)
- Picaridin (KBR 3023, Chemical Name: 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperidinecarboxylic acid 1-methylpropyl ester )
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus* or PMD (Chemical Name: para-Menthane-3,8-diol)the synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus
- IR3535 (Chemical Name: 3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester)
EPA characterizes the active ingredients DEET and Picaridin as "conventional repellents" and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, PMD, and IR3535 as "biopesticide repellents", which are derived from natural materials. For more information on repellent active ingredients see http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/mosquitoes/ai_insectrp.htm.
Published data indicate that repellent efficacy and duration of protection vary considerably among products and among mosquito species and are markedly affected by ambient temperature, amount of perspiration, exposure to water, abrasive removal, and other factors.
In general, higher concentrations of active ingredient provide a longer duration of protection, regardless of the active ingredient, although concentrations above ~50% do not offer a marked increase in protection time. Products with <10% active ingredient may offer only limited protection, often from 1-2 hours. Products that offer sustained release or controlled release (micro-encapsulated) formulations, even with lower active ingredient concentrations, may provide longer protection times. Regardless of what product you use, if you start to get mosquito bites reapply the repellent according to the label instructions or remove yourself from the area with biting insects if possible.
These recommendations are for domestic use in the United States where EPA-registered products are readily available. See CDC Travelers' Health website for additional recommendations concerning protection from insects when traveling outside the United States.