Many people are against synthetic chemicals and will not consider products like DEET. As I have reported before in DEET- is It Safe?, DEET is quite safe but many still do not believe the facts.
In the last couple of weeks the Zika virus has been all over the news. The World Health Organization has declared Zika virus a ‘public health emergency’ of international concern.
Which mosquito repellents work best against Zika? Are any of the organic products recommended? It is time to have another look at the mosquito problem.
Mosquitoes Carry the Zika Virus
So far it is believed that Zika is only carried by Aedes mosquitoes, mostly the Aedes aegypti , but other Aedes species may also be involved. This mosquito only lives in warm climates – a good reason to live in Canada 🙂
There are hundreds of different mosquito species, and most repellents are not tested on very many of them. To better understand the effectiveness of a repellent for Zika, it must be tested on at least Aedes aegypti.
The best defense against Zika is to avoid being bitten. The CDC emphasizes that wearing long-sleeved clothing is important but that mosquito repellents are essential, too.
Testing of Repellents on Aedes Mosquito
Consumer Reports has just released their testing on Aedes mosquito with numerous products. To find the most effective mosquito repellents, they tested “products containing deet, a chemical called IR3535, as well as those containing two plantlike, but chemically synthesized, ingredients: lemon eucalyptus and picaridin. They also looked at repellents made with natural plant oils, such as geraniol, castor oil, soybean oil, citronella, and rosemary” (1).
Most of the findings were not a surprise.
The most effective products were synthetic chemicals that had a reasonably high concentration of the active ingredient. Picaridin at 20%, and DEET at 25% were most effective and worked for 8 hours. Synthetic lemon eucalyptus at 30% was also effective.
Surprisingly, IR3535 did not make the list of recommendations. As expected lower levels of active ingredients, such as 5 percent picaridin or 7 percent DEET were not effective.
What about natural oils? Consumers Report recommends “skipping products made with natural oils” (ref 1). Products with the following ingredients were not effective; citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, geraniol, rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil. None of the natural products were effective for more than 1 hour.
As reported previously in Mosquito Repellents – Best Options, many of these natural products have not been tested properly for possible health effects.
Mosquito Repellent Choice is Clear
The scientific evidence is clear. Picaridin and DEET are both effective and safe to use in reasonable amounts. No one is suggesting you bath in the stuff.
Do you want to remain organic and take a chance getting Zika? Or use a synthetic product? The answer seems obvious to me.
Other Posts About Mosquitoes
Here are some other posts that might interest you.
Mosquito Repellents That Best Protect Against Zika; http://www.consumerreports.org/insect-repellents/mosquito-repellents-that-best-protect-against-zika
- Photo Credit: Jim Beckwith