Researchers Test 4 Popular Skeeter Repellant Products

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — If you have been enjoying some time outside this summer, you probably have noticed the mosquitoes are out in force.

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Wednesday night, there are countless repellants out there on the market, and many question whether they actually work. So researchers put several popular products to the test.

Vicki Roy was recently counting mosquito bite scars on her daughter, Dylan, attacks that she said left the 5-year-old emotionally scarred.

Mosquitoes attacked Dylan so badly last summer that her scratching led to a staphylococcus infection.

“We had to get on several antibiotics, and the pediatrician told me that she shouldn’t play outside anymore,” Roy said.

Like so many other mothers, Roy wants to be prepared this year. But how will she know which product will work?

Researchers at Texas A&M University think they have the answer, and they put four products to the test.

First was the popular spray Off!, which contains 15 percent DEET – the powerful insecticide. The researchers also tested a new and all-natural DEET alternative called BioUD.

“The extract is a compound that would have been derived from tomato plants,” a researcher said.

Also new this season is a Citronella-covered band that is worn as a bracelet, and Skin So Soft, the Avon lotion long touted as a mosquito repellant.

After applying each product to filter in a simulation of how the products would be applied to human skin, researchers placed the paper into containers full of hungry mosquitoes.

“What I can do now is let them get all disturbed by blowing in there and then let them resettle all by themselves,” a researcher explained.

The researchers then counted the number of mosquitoes that flew to the opposite side of the container to avoid the products.

So which insects repelled the most mosquitoes?

“I would say the DEET and BioUD had very similar levels of efficacy,” said researcher Dr. Gabriel Hamer.

Researchers found BioUD actually scored better than Off!, but the DEET spray was a very tight second.

“Both of these products, when applied to the filter paper, no mosquitoes landed on that paper and they even stayed quite a ways away from that filter paper,” Hamer said.

As for the Citronella and the Skin So Soft, both products also repelled the mosquitoes – although not as effectively as the others.

Avon’s brand public relations senior manager sent CBS 2 News a statement, saying, “The Skin So Soft moisturizing lotion used in this report is not intended to repel mosquitoes, is not sold for that purpose, and is not approved by the EPA as a repellent. Avon does offer several insect repellents, including Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus line of products. These products are approved by the EPA for use as insect repellents, and they contain active ingredients that are effective deterrents against mosquitoes.”

The researchers tested each product three times and got the same results.

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