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7 mosquito repellent options to try in your backyard

7 mosquito repellent options to try in your backyard

Summertime is great for backyard BBQs and spending time outdoors, until the mosquitoes and bugs begin to swarm. Protecting yourself and your family from those picnic pests is crucial to avoid the illnesses and annoyances they can inflict on your loved ones. Thankfully, there are tons of ways and products available to keep your outdoor adventures safe and pest-free, including having your lawn treated by professionals. The key is to find a combination of insect repellents that are both safe and effective for all ages. There are some that can be worn or sprayed on and around you, as well as traditional essential oil candles that contain citronella, peppermint and lemongrass.

What is insect repellent?

According to the Environmental Protective Agency (EPA), insect repellent is a pesticide designed specifically to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate any pest. Today, hundreds of different products are available that do just that, so whether you want to kill, repel, or prevent pests, there is a product out there for you and your loved ones!

Does my insect repellent need to contain deet?

While deet may be a type of bug spray you're familiar with (and maybe even afraid of though it has been proven safe when used as directed), an alternative gaining popularity is picaridin insect repellents. Picaridin is a synthetic ingredient based off a chemical found in some pepper plants. Like deet, picaridin does not kill mosquitoes but rather deters them from taking a bite. Ultimately, the CDC recommends applying a repellent to your skin with one of the following active ingredients to prevent bites.

Quick Overview
  • Deet-free repellent for kids

    BuzzPatch Mosquito Patch Stickers for Kids

  • All-natural essential oil-based spray

    Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray

  • Electric Bug Zapper

    Electronic Bug Zapper

  • Rechargeable Portable Bug Zapper

    Bug Zapper Light Bulb

  • Tealight Citronella Candles

    Tealight Citronella Candles

  • Aerosol Bug Spray

    Clean Feel Insect Repellent

  • Mosquito Repellent Wearables

    Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

See 2 more
  • DEET

  • Picaridin

  • IR3535

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)

  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)

  • 2-undecanone

What types of products are available?

There are skin-applied repellents, like those discussed above, which you'll want to be sure are registered by the EPA, meaning they've been tested and approved for human safety effectiveness to prevent bites. But there are some other products — like zappers and stickers or bracelets — that try to keep the insects away from the general area. These are not perfect, but we've picked out a few that have left shoppers feeling protected.

What should I consider when choosing which products to use?

Consider your specific environment — weather, wind, temperature — Wind will not work well for sprays, but wearables will! Sweltering humidity is a mosquito playground, so possibly a backyard fogger in addition to a spray you apply to yourself will be the best bet.

What types of insects you're repelling — Crawlers like ants and flyers like mosquitos will require a different strategy. Make sure you read the label to ensure the pest you are trying to repel is listed!

What active ingredients you'd like to avoid or use  Do you want to go the holistic route and stick to essential oils or go full-tilt and use deet-based products? Consider what activities you'll be participating in and where, as well as how long you'll be exposed, and who will be exposed — certain product types may be more beneficial.

Our top picks for mitigating mosquitos and repelling picnic pests

Below we've rounded up the most highly rated insect repellents that are worth trying out this summer.

They don't just have to be for kids! These all-natural, plant-based, non-toxic, DEET-free essential oils patchers are the perfect added layer of protection to keep mosquitos away without having to apply anything directly to your skin. 

$15 at Amazon

Use this natural, plant-based spray to protect yourself from mosquitoes (for up to 6 hours) and ticks (for up to 4 hours) without any harsh chemicals.

$20 at Amazon

This electronic bug zapper can be used indoors or outdoors and uses blue-violet light to attract and zap mosquitoes, gnats, moths, and most other insects. 

$40 at Amazon

This electronic bug zapper bulb gets right of mosquitoes fast. With this USB rechargeable, LED light bulb you'll attract and zap mosquitoes within a 16' x 16' perimeter for up to 15 hours.

$20 at Amazon

Pepper your patio with these Deet-free Mosquito Guard tealight citronella candles to keep the vibe right and your area bug-free. 

$14 at Amazon

This is the oh-so-familiar OFF! brand's aerosol bug spray with long-lasting protection without feeling slimy on the skin. 

$6 at Amazon

These DEET-free bands will keep bugs away naturally. They are individually wrapped and one size fits all. 

$10 at Amazon