Thursday, August 1, 2013

What is worse - Bug Bites, or Insect Repellent?

USA Today has published an article asking this question. They point out that there is no 100% failsafe protection against bug bites. They cite 4 compounds that are effective: 3 chemicals, including DEET, and oil of lemon eucalyptus, an essential oil. PubMed has studies showing catnip essential oil is as effective as DEET. (If you want links to the full articles, just email me!) Oil of lemon eucalyptus was recognized by the  Centre for Disease Control as being both effective, and safe to use. That is not true here in Canada, though. In Canada, Health Canada does not allow the use of citronella, or, anything containing citronellol to be used as an insect repellent. Oil of lemon eucalyptus does have citronnellol as a component.

However, you have to weigh the risks of insect repellents against the risks of being bitten by a mosquito or tick. The Centre for Disease Control says Lyme disease infections have doubled over the past 15 years, and West Nile Virus infected 5600 people last year (in the United States.) Mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting such diseases as dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, and malaria. These are very serious diseases and I think deciding to use any repellent in this case would be well worth the risk. In Canada, some of these diseases are not common and we do not typically worry about catching them.

Bug repellent - natural or otherwise - should never be used on children under 6 months of age, and, you should also avoid repellents that contain active ingredients of greater than 30%.

New repellents are appearing on the market all the time. There are now "clip on " repellents...which you do not have to slather on the skin. There is controversy as to how well they work, and if they are, in fact, any safer than applying to your skin.

Natural deterrents include:  (1) Wearing long sleeves and pants, which provide a physical barrier to biting insects. (2) sitting in front of a fan. Insects have trouble navigating in wind (3) Making sure you discourage the breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which means eliminating any standing or stagnant water from your property.


  1. Yeah lots of the natural repellents use citronella and other essential oils. Heck, they even make a patch you can wear that's supposed to repel the bugs, and I think i've seen some clothing companies claiming it too. ugh, too many choices!

    1. Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I'll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts.

  2. there is no question in it that bug bites are more worse, they create lots of problems to the skin as well. this is one of the blog that seems to be interactive.

  3. Undoubtedly, bed bugs are more worse. These are the bites that create lot of skin troubles and repellants are least worse.