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Mosquito repellents offer various levels of protection

News Release Distributed 08/10/12

The best way to avoid mosquito bites and the threat that comes with them is to avoid infested areas, wear protective clothing and use insect repellent, according to LSU AgCenter entomologist Dennis Ring. But he said not all repellants offer the same amount of protection.

“The best repellents will provide protection from bites for a long time from just one application,” Ring said.

Ring recommends DEET for the best protection.

“DEET is usually what you think of in OFF!,” Ring said. “Thirty percent DEET will last about six hours.”

Consumers can find different products on the market containing DEET. Ring said to read the product label to determine the percentage of the active ingredient in the container.

Some contain as little as four to seven percent DEET. Those products will offer only one and half to two hours of protection, according to Ring.

Ring pointed out that the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the normal use of DEET does not present a health concern to the general population, but the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend applying DEET to infants under 2 months of age.

Other natural repellents – ones usually containing essential oil distilled from plants – offer various amounts of protection. Oil of lemon eucalyptus will provide two hours of coverage. IR3535, found in other insect repellents, provides about 35 minutes. Products with citronella will provide 20 minutes or less.

Ring said natural doesn’t always mean safe, explaining that oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years of age.

The state’s mosquito population is up this year along with cases of West Nile virus. Louisiana came out of a drought this year, and Ring said this has led to more mosquitoes.

“Some mosquito eggs can last five years in a drought waiting on water. And then when it rains, they’ll develop,” Ring said.

Tobie Blanchard

Last Updated: 8/13/2012 7:01:46 AM

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