Summertime means more time outdoors. Unfortunately that can mean a lot more exposure to bugs, like mosquitoes and ticks. Not only are they annoying, mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus and deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease.
Consumer Reports just tested repellents to see which offer the best protection.
Steve Ricker spends a lot of time outdoors, as director of a nature conservatory, so he's no stranger to insects.
Ricker says, "I've been bit by many, many, many bugs over the years, so it's part of the job."
Besides wearing a hat, long sleeves, and long pants, he always makes sure to use insect repellent.
Consumer Reports just tested 10 repellents to see how well they protect against mosquitoes-two different types-and deer ticks.
Kim Kleman of Consumer Reports says, "Several of the repellents we tested contain the active ingredient DEET-but no more than 30%. And others use newer chemicals like picaridin."
The Repel spray uses lemon eucalyptus oil, another chemical. And two other products tested claim to be "all natural"-Burt's Bees All Natural Herbal Insect Repellent and Organic Bit Blocker Xtreme.
Several brave panelists at an outside lab bared their arms to test repellents. First, mosquitoes. You can see the repellent is working. Mosquitoes are avoiding the treated skin.
Next deer ticks. The tick is placed on an untreated arm and it moves right up the arm. But you can see the arm that's been treated with repellent, as the tick approaches the treated area above the blue line it makes a "U" turn to get away. But not all the products worked this well.
Kleman says, "The Burt's Bees Repellent performed the worst, offering only a fraction of the protection that the others did."
In the end, six products kept mosquitoes and ticks away for at least seven hours.
Kleman says, "The repellents we tested generally had a strong smell and left a slight residue on the skin, but testers found the Cutter Backwoods Unscented, while it had a slight smell, left barely a hint of residue."
And finally, another tip from Steve.
Ricker says, "If you wear a hat, spray your hat. It's very effective."
If you want a DEET-free repellent, Consumer Reports recommends the Natrapel 3-Hour with Picaridin or, for those older than three, Repel with Lemon Eucalyptus.
Testers also checked out the Off Clip-on mosquito repellent. This battery-powered device eliminates having to apply lotions and sprays to your skin.
But unfortunately, tests show it didn't keep bugs away for very long. So for lasting protection-use one of Consumer Reports top-rated repellents.