Whether you’re just looking to avoid annoying bug bites at your summer BBQs, or if you’re a full-fledged member of Hope Solo’s anti-Zika Virus crusade, you need an effective repellent for mosquitoes and other biting insects. Trouble is, while DEET is the top commercially available chemical repellent because it’s highly effective, it may also bring some pretty serious health concerns ranging from
Lemon eucalyptus oil has recently emerged as an alternative to DEET, and several studies have shown it to be equally effective and far less toxic for people.
Lemon eucalyptus oil has been used for years as a bug repellent, but it’s just recently established itself as a mainstream alternative to DEET. Oil of lemon eucalyptus naturally comes from the gum eucalyptus tree, but it’s actually a synthetic version of the substance called PMD that is generally used against insects. The EPA registered PMD as a naturally derived repellent in 2000, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) added it to their mosquito-control guidelines in 2005.According to the CDC’s press release:
The updated guidance includes addition of two active ingredients – picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus – which have been shown to offer long-lasting protection against mosquito bites.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (also known as p-menthane 3,8-diol or PMD) [is] a plant-based mosquito repellent that provided protection time similar to low concentration DEET products in two recent studies.
Interestingly, studies suggest that it may work not by repelling insects per se, but by disrupting mosquitoes ability to “lock on” to their human targets. Lemon Eucalyptus oil seems to mask both carbon dioxide and lactic acid, which attract mosquitoes like a dinner bell. And a nice bonus: in addition to sidestepping concerns about DEET toxicity, lemon eucalyptus oil repellents tend to be easier on fabrics and gear that can be damaged by the chemicals in DEET.
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect repellent was recently rated as one of Consumer Reports’ “Mosquito Repellents That Best Protect Against Zika”.