Different Types of Bug Repellents

Bug repellents are frequently a necessity when gardening or doing other outdoor activities. Repellents protect against West Nile Virus and other diseases carried by mosquitoes, and pest control is imperative in preventing allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to mosquito bites or affected by bee and wasp stings. It is important to understand that bug repellents are different from pesticides. Pesticides are used to kill bugs and to treat infestations. They are much more potent than bug repellents, and are not for use on the skin. Bug repellents can be divided into several different types.


Sprays contain a variety of main active ingredients and are in different strengths according to how much of those ingredients are in them. DEET is a repellent used to repel mosquitoes, flies and ticks, and is found in a majority of bug repellent sprays. People adversely affected by DEET can pick from sprays that contain picaridin, a repellent that works better than DEET for repelling flies. People sensitive to these can try sprays that contain the ingredient IR 3535, a substance that is based on an amino acid, and so is considered a natural ingredient. Sprays vary in how long they last in their repelling capabilities. Generally, the more percentage of the active ingredient the spray contains, the longer it lasts.

Lotions and Wipes

There are some repellents that are rubbed on the skin. Some come in a disposable wipe that you spread over your skin and then throw away. Others are in the form of a cream. There are some repellents in lotion form that also contain a sunscreen. It is usually recommended if you use a sunscreen separately from a bug repellent, that you put the sunscreen on about 30 minutes before you use the repellent.


There is special clothing available that is treated with permethrin, a bug insecticide that repels not only mosquitoes, but fleas, ticks, and ants. Premethrin, although an insecticide, is processed into the fiber of the fabric and is not harmful to the skin. Clothing made with it is washable and safe to use on children.

Natural Bug Repellents

Essential oils, such as citronella and tea tree oil are sometimes combined with an alcohol base (vodka can be used) to make a spray, or mixed with almond oil for a cream. Eucalyptus and peppermint can also be used to make a natural bug repellent. Crushed chrysanthemums, garlic, and other herbs are used as well.

Scents and Smells

When choosing a bug repellent, people often find some of them have an offensive smell. DEET particularly can have a very strong odor. If you are sensitive to smells, you can sometimes find sprays in odorless form. One thing to consider when making your own bug repellent or buying a natural pest control product is the type of scent it may have. Eucalyptus can be very strong; on the other hand, crushed chrysanthemums might be very appealing.