Unfortunately, getting the best mosquito repellent for yards isn’t as easy as picking the first decent-looking and well-packaged product we see at the store.
Most of these products are EPA-approved and meet at least the minimum requirements for mosquito control.
However, with so many variables to consider —such as the duration of repelling capacity, efficiency against various varieties of mosquitos, the size of your yard, how the repellent is deployed, and toxicity concerns, it’s prudent to conduct some research before spending your money.
Table of Contents
Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller
The Thermacell Patio Shield is one of the greatest alternatives for outdoor living spaces. This lantern-style device is fueled by a fuel cartridge, which eliminates the need for batteries or wires.
It is based on allethrin, a synthetic molecule that can be efficient at repelling insects depending on the dose and type of insect. Just keep in mind that there isn’t a lot of study on allethrin, and the CDC and EPA don’t recommend it right now.
You’ll receive three repellent mats, each of which provides around four hours of protection in all directions and extends up to 15 feet. We also enjoy that it’s available in various colors to match any outdoor design style.
- Several color variations are available.
- In windy situations, it is ineffective.
Brison Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Ultrasonic skeeters-stoppers are among the greatest mosquito repellents available for individuals who want to avoid chemical exposure. These devices are not only odorless, silent, and discreet in appearance, but they also contain no toxins and, unlike other mosquito control technologies, offer no threat to non-target insect species.
The Brison Ultrasonic Pest Repeller possesses all of the characteristics mentioned above. It outperforms many of its ultrasonic repellent competitors in one of the most important market areas: efficacy.
While scientific evidence for the effectiveness of ultrasonic repellents is still inconclusive, empirical evidence from individuals who have used this device provides an indisputable mark of approval.
This device means business, with a range of 1600 square feet and electromagnetic and ultrasonic wave technology that targets skeeters’ central nervous systems if they get too close. It also runs off of a power source and doesn’t require any refilling, making it a true set-it-and-forget-it option.
- Priced reasonably
- Non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
- Low maintenance
- Because it is not waterproof, it must be unplugged after each outside use.
Thermacell MR-450 Repeller
The battery-powered Thermacell MR-450 might be your bug-blocking best-friend-to-be for those with larger yards or who value portability.
This device repels mosquitoes by generating a 15-by-15-foot protective zone with DEET-free repellent mats that release an invisible, odorless deterrent around the device for up to 12 hours, making it a long-time favorite of hunters everywhere.
The MR-450 is also well-built, with a robust, rubberized casing, a belt clip for convenient carrying and storage, and a built-in LED light that monitors performance and alerts users when the fuel or flame has gone out.
This device’s mobility might have helped it win as our best bet if it weren’t for a few minor but bothersome drawbacks. The necessity for refilling and replacing repellent mats is the most noticeable of these. While this may take a few minutes out of a full day of yard work, it may be a little too much maintenance for the lazy yard loungers among us.
- This product has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Because of its portability, it is great for large yards.
- The rubberized exterior adds to the toughness of the design.
- Coverage area of 15 x 15 feet
- Scent is non-irritating
- Not low maintenance
Cutter Backyard Bug Control Spray
Mosquito repellent sprays applied with a motorized backpack sprayer are normally the best on the market. Bottled sprays, on the other hand, offer a highly functional balance for smaller yards and smaller budgets, allowing you to cover reasonably big areas in a relatively short period without compromising too much in terms of effectiveness.
Sprays provide a longer-lasting repellent than plug-in or battery-powered devices in most circumstances.
All of the above pretty much covers up what the Cutter Backyard Bug Control Spray has to offer. This 32-ounce bottle spray attaches to your garden hose to replicate the deployment of a backpack spray through an adjustable nozzle, making it incredibly simple to use.
It can also provide up to 4 weeks of mosquito protection and even survive rain, so you won’t have to reapply after a few showers.
This product can treat up to 5,000 square feet of land with a single 32-ounce container, making it a more practical solution for individuals with larger yards.
In terms of chemical content, the spray contains 0.16% lambda-cyhalothrin, a pyrethroid insecticide approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency for disrupting mosquito nervous system activity.
While the product’s dosage is too low to cause anything more than mild skin irritation in humans and dogs, it can repel and kill non-target insect species, so it’s recommended to remain out of the yard for an hour or two after spraying to be safe.
- The hose-end attachment makes deployment a breeze.
- Excellent range of coverage
- Effective for up to 4 weeks after application, even if it rains
- Non-specific: beneficial insects will be killed or repelled.
Bonide Ready-to-Spray Mosquito Beater
The Bonide Ready-to-Spray Mosquito Beater spray, like the Cutter spray, is a highly effective, easy-to-use, long-lasting repellent that works best in bigger yards.
In terms of practicality and effectiveness, there is no difference between the two products. Still, the Bonide loses a point or two in the total tally due to its lower resistance to rain and the requirement for post-shower reapplication.
This spray, like the Cutter, comes with a handy hose-end connection nozzle that allows you to quickly cover a big area, up to about 5,000 square feet per 32-ounce container. It also has a four-week shelf life and is safe for people and dogs if they are not sprayed directly or come into touch with the substance before it dries.
Finally, the Mosquito Beater has an advantage over conventional pesticide sprays because it uses a water-based Permethrin composition that emits very little odor.
- When compared to other brands, it has a low odor.
- 4-week efficacy
- Simple to use
- Large coverage
- After a rain, reapplication is required.
- Non-target insects are also repelled
Pic Mosquito Repellent for Yard Coils
Mosquito coil repellents may not provide the same long-term protection as sprays or ultrasonic repellents. Still, they may provide a pretty effective, low-cost, low-maintenance alternative for people on a limited budget or who aren’t inspired by the human effort involved in spraying.
Pic Mosquito Repelling Coils contain a pyrethroid (allethrin) that has been proven to repel mosquitoes, and each coil may last up to 7 hours, so you can light one up before a BBQ or party and relax. At the same time, it works without having to worry about recharging batteries, restocking cartridges, or respraying.
On the negative, these coils produce thick plumes of smoke, have a foul odor, only repel for the duration of the time they are burning, and, of course, offer a fire threat, especially if you’re having a BBQ party on the patio with a few beers and cocktails going around.
- Easy to use
- Great value
- There are no batteries, gasoline, or power sources required.
- The smell
- Fire hazard
- Less effective in windy situations
Top Outdoor Mosquito Repellent Candles
Lighting a citronella candle is a tried-and-true technique for temporarily removing mosquitos, albeit it isn’t a permanent solution. Because of its 30-hour burn time and refreshing aroma of rosemary, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, and cedarwood, this selection from Murphy’s Naturals has received rave ratings on Amazon.
- 30-hour burn duration
Cutter Citro Guard Triple Wick Candle
If you want to control mosquitoes, consider lighting a Citro Guard Candle. The citronella oil in the 20-ounce wax blend isn’t as effective or long-lasting as other bug repellents, but it does provide short-term natural bug protection.
You won’t have to worry about the copper container toppling over or the wick blowing out on windy days because of its sturdy base and tall sides. Not only that, but this three-wick candle can burn for up to 40 hours.
- 40-hour burn time
- Container that won’t tip over
- It’s difficult to remove the logo sticker, and it doesn’t provide complete protection.
Best mosquito repellent in water
To kill mosquito larvae for 30 days, place one of these small but incredible circles in any bird baths, ponds, plant trays, or flood-prone locations up to 100 square feet. But don’t worry about fish or other wildlife: the EPA-registered chemical in this product, BTI, kills just mosquito larvae and is non-toxic to humans, pets, and other animals.
- It can last up to 30 days.
Best mosquito repellent for skin application
Sawyer Picaridin Continuous Spray Insect Repellent
Reach for a can of Sawyer Insect Repellent if you’re seeking for an insect repellent with CDC-approved ingredients2.
It contains 20% picaridin, a compound that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend for repelling all types of insects for up to 12 hours, including gnats, mosquitos, chiggers, ticks, and flies. The fragrance-free product is not at all sticky.
You can use it on your skin, clothes, tent, bag, and other gear without fear of leaving a stench. The aerosol can spray continuously, making it simple to apply a complete, even layer to all surfaces. If you prefer a different application or want to cover all your bases, this budget-friendly bug repellent is also available in lotion and pump spray.
- Great longevity
- Less effective to some mosquito breeds
OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent
While the 25% DEET component of this product may deter some potential purchasers due to claims of toxicity, it is genuinely unrivaled in terms of effectiveness. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also shown that DEET is safe for adults and children.
The Deep Woods repellent from OFF! comes in a variety of formats, from liquid sprays to towelette wipes. Still, the aerosol spray is our favorite because it allows you to cover hard-to-reach areas while also applying the repellent without getting your hands dirty.
This product, like all DEET repellents, has a slight odor to it, which isn’t unpleasant but isn’t likely to become your go-to fragrance for nights out on the town. On the plus side, unlike most other DEET-based repellents, OFF! Deep Woods isn’t nearly as oily.
- Despite the 25% DEET concentration, it doesn’t smell like DEET.
- Spray radius provides easy application
- Extremely efficient
- May damage clothes
- May be stinky
Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
There are few reliable alternatives to DEET and picaridin-based products, but the Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Pump Spray is a genuine contender.
This repellent fends off airborne aggressors with a combination of ethanol and essential oils of lemon and eucalyptus. It’s a wonderful option for anyone who has had negative reactions to previous repellents or is put off by the idea of putting anything chemical on their skin. The only plant-based active ingredients approved by the CDC are lemon and eucalyptus oil.
However, there are a few faults worth highlighting in this product. First and foremost, it does not last as long as high-concentration DEET treatments and must be reapplied every 3 to 4 hours.
Second, while the aroma is an improvement over DEET, it is a little acidic, irritating the nose of more scent-sensitive people. Finally, lemon eucalyptus, like many other natural plant oils, is an irritant that might create unpleasant side effects, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- It’s not oily or sticky.
- In comparison to DEET, it has a pleasant scent.
- No damage to clothing
- 3/4-hour efficacy
- DEET-based solutions are more effective.
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion
Consider using a lotion-like Ultrathon for complete skin covering. This bug repellent isn’t fooling around when it comes to protecting your skin from mosquito bites, as it contains 34% DEET, a typical bug repellant that the CDC and EPA recommend.
If you don’t mind the strong odor, you’ll be protected for up to 12 hours from mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, ticks, fleas, and gnats. Furthermore, the cream is waterproof, so you can trust it to withstand sweaty activities in hot weather.
- Strong odor
Yard mosquito repellent 101
Which mosquito yard repellent is the most effective?
Sprays, electrical devices, candles, and coils are the yard’s four basic types of mosquito repellents. We’ve included a brief description of each category below.
When applied consistently, bottled repellent sprays can be one of the most efficient mosquito control strategies in your yard, and they provide a more long-term solution than other options, especially if you opt to spray regularly over several weeks.
Bottle sprays, for the most part, work by attaching to your garden hose and dispersing a concentrated solution in the sprayed area that both wards off existing mosquitoes and deters newcomers.
Bottled sprays, while not as convenient or effective as backpack sprayers, often employ the same chemicals and can cover huge areas quickly. Permethrin and pyrethroids formulations are two repellents commonly used in this treatment. Both act by changing nerve function, causing paralysis and eventually death in the target species.
Alternative treatments exist, most of which employ peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, and cedar oil, for those who find the above a touch too unethical or would want to use only natural things in their yard.
In recent years, some publications have questioned the efficiency of electronic mosquito repellents, notably those labeled as “ultrasonic” repellents, which emit a high-frequency ultrasonic buzz that the manufacturers claim repels mosquitos.
While these publications frequently claim no evidence that ultrasonic repellents repel mosquitoes, many users of such devices disagree, reporting a significant drop in the number of mosquitoes in their yards after using their device.
The powder equivalent of the chemical used in many spray repellents, dried pyrethrum, is used in the majority of mosquito coils. When the pyrethrum is burned, the coils disperse the pyrethrum as smoke.
Mosquito repellent coils typically last four to eight hours but are less efficient than sprays or electronic devices, emit foul odors, and produce a plume of smoke that can cause respiratory allergic reactions.
Essential oils such as citronella, thyme, lavender, lemon eucalyptus, or geranium are commonly used in mosquito-repellent candles. On the plus side, they’re usually inexpensive and easy to use. On the negative side, they can provide a minor fire hazard, can be smoky and stinky, and aren’t as effective as sprays, electronic repellents, or even coils.
Repellents for the skin
In addition to the above-mentioned spatial repellents, it’s nearly always a good idea to wear some form of on-the-skin repellent in case any skeeters aren’t deterred by the spatial repellent you’ve chosen.
On-the-skin repellents are often in the form of sprays and provide only short-term protection against bites. The effectiveness of on-the-skin repellents varies greatly from one product to the next and is mostly determined by the concentration and type of active component utilized.
Despite various new compounds reaching the market recently, mosquito.org claims that the most effective is still good old, tried-and-true DEET.
- Lotion: Lotions are more effective than sprays because they are absorbed deeper into the skin and provide longer protection. Ensure you don’t pick something that will make your skin feel greasy and thick. Some also hydrate and protect your skin from the sun, which is useful if you forget your sunscreen at home.
- Wipes: Wipes are a great option when you’re on the run. Because you can readily reach regions like ears and necks with them, they can be easier to use on children.
- Bracelet or Wristband: Some people prefer wristbands since they are more convenient and don’t require you to put anything on your skin. You don’t have to bother about reapplying a spray for hours if you wear them. Unfortunately, they’re not as effective as other alternatives like sprays and lotions.
- Ultrasonic devices: These devices produce sounds intended to scare bugs away. They’re usually designed to be used inside or in a garage. Not only do they keep mosquitoes at bay, but they can also keep other home pests at bay, such as snakes, rats, mice, and spiders. Unfortunately, some individuals adore them, while others believe they are ineffective.
- Incense sticks: Various essential oils are used to make incense sticks. Another repellent that works for some people but not for others. It depends on the components, the wind, and the size of the area you want to keep mosquitos out of. Unfortunately, they don’t usually last long before you need to replace them.
What are the most effective active ingredients?
Repellents for the Skin
N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide is also known as DEET. It was first created by the United States Army in 1946 and has been commercially available since 1957.
DEET works by interfering with the neurons and antennae receptors used by mosquitos to detect lactic acid and carbon dioxide, which are the compounds that attract them to humans. It also works by creating a vapor barrier on the skin’s surface, which prevents them from landing.
Contrary to popular assumption, the amount of DEET in a product determines how long it will last, not how strong it is. For example, a product containing 10% DEET may be effective for 1 or 2 hours, but a product containing 60% DEET may be effective for up to 6 or 7 hours.
Despite various reports claiming that DEET is a hazardous drug, several studies have demonstrated that the health hazards provided by DEET are low when used at the proper concentrations. Furthermore, the EPA claims that when DEET is applied directly to the skin, it has no harmful effects on children or adults.
Picaridin is a chemical molecule that was initially commercially accessible in the United States in 2005 and is the second most widely used mosquito repellent after DEET. It works by repelling mosquitoes with their odor and generating a vapor barrier on the skin’s surface that prevents insects from landing.
Picaridin has been demonstrated in studies to be just as effective as DEET at repelling mosquitos.
On the other hand, Picaridin has significantly fewer drawbacks than DEET: it’s odorless, non-greasy, and has fewer recorded adverse effects. Avon Bug Guard, Ranger Ready, and Sawyer Picaridin Repellent are examples of picaridin-containing products.
Permethrin, a synthetic derivative of the chrysanthemum flower, is an insecticide used to kill lice and scabies. Still, it’s also efficient against other insects, which is why the US Army has worn it on their combat uniforms for the past two decades.
Permethrin is odorless and possibly the least harmful of all the chemical-based mosquito repellents, but it’s also the least effective on bare skin, where it can fade in as little as 15 minutes. When applied to clothing, though, it lasts for weeks, and because it’s odorless, it’s the perfect insect spray for hunters, fishermen, and wildlife stalkers.
Merck produced something called IR3535 in the 1970s, which stands for “Insect Repellent 3535” and could certainly use a better name. It was only introduced to the general public in 1999. The EWG describes it as a “strong” mosquito repellent and a “decent” tick repellent, but not nearly good enough to dethrone DEET or picaridin, at least not yet.
Because of the potential for chemical-based repellents to cause negative effects, various plant-based alternatives have gained traction in the mosquito repellent industry in recent years. Repel Lemon, Eucalyptus Repellent, and Herbal Armor are two of the most popular.
While many believe these treatments are less effective than DEET or Picaridin, their repellent characteristics only last for 2-4 hours on average, necessitating frequent reapplication. Plant-based products, unlike DEET, do not damage clothing; they are usually non-greasy and have a milder aroma.
The only plant-based active component authorized by the CDC is the oil of lemon eucalyptus. It has been shown to repel mosquitoes, but only for up to six hours. Other active components have been shown to repel mosquitos for up to 10 hours.
DEET vs. DEET-free vs. natural repellents
DEET insect repellents
According to a couple of the specialists we spoke with, DEET insect repellents are the most frequent and are considered the gold standard in terms of chemicals. DEET has been around for a long time, created by the US Army in 1946 and licensed for public use in 1957.
As a result, it’s “one of the most well-studied repellents on the market,” according to Western Connecticut State University biology professor Neeta Pardanani Connally.
While there is “some disagreement on exactly how DEET works,” Erika T. Machtinger, an assistant professor of entomology at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, explained that it “interferes with the pest’s host-finding ability they can’t smell you anymore.”
DEET is a contentious component owing to widespread misunderstanding.
DEET is found in most EPA-registered insect repellents, with over 500 products containing it as an active ingredient. DEET has recently gained a negative reputation for being dangerous. “DEET is a contentious component, owing to a lot of misinformation.
Some people confuse it with DDT, an unrelated and banned substance in the United States. In contrast, others are concerned about alleged neurological disorders linked to DEET use that the medical community has debunked,” Machtinger noted.
Despite the debate, the majority of the specialists we spoke with agreed that DEET is the most effective active component to search for in insect repellents.
DEET-free insect repellents
You could see the words “DEET-free” in larger characters on insect repellent labels, but you’ll probably have to read down to see the active ingredient. If you look attentively at this repellent from Repel, you’ll notice that it contains oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Experts explained that these could be used as DEET substitutes. EPA-registered active compounds include para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanoate, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and picaridin, the latter of which is probably the most common.
Experts told us that DEET-free insect repellents with the same active components as DEET are safe and efficient. They are not as well-known as DEET.
Eva Buckner, a medical entomology extension expert at the University of Florida, works exactly as well as DEET against insects but hasn’t been examined as thoroughly. Picaridin can be a “reasonable alternative to DEET,” according to Machtinger, but it can be “more challenging to find in some places” and more expensive.
Natural insect repellents
According to the specialists we spoke with, natural insect repellents should be avoided. “Many are simply not successful at repelling insects and products tested and registered by the EPA,” Brown added.
According to an EPA spokeswoman, the terms “natural” and “naturally” cannot be used on any registered pesticide product label because the terms cannot be adequately defined and may be misunderstood as safety claims. Botanicals and essential oils are commonly included in natural repellents.
Connally, who directs WCSU’s Tickborne Disease Prevention Laboratory, said, “It’s kind of the ‘Wild West’ out there with the natural products right now.”
It’s made more complicated by the fact that some products containing “natural ingredients,” such as clove and lemongrass oil, are accepted as “minimum risk” pesticides by the EPA but aren’t held to the same high standards as those that are registered to show “that a product does indeed have the repellency effects that the label claim,” according to Connally.
According to Consumer Reports, natural insect repellents can include higher levels of allergens than other products labeled as natural, and they are also less effective.
What should you look for in terms of ingredients?
Bug repellents are made up of a variety of active chemicals. According to the EPA, DEET, picaridin, allethrin, permethrin, citronella, and oil of lemon eucalyptus are efficient insect repellents.
Some of these compounds are more powerful than others at repelling specific species of insects, so be sure you pick one specifically made to repel the bugs in your area.
Natural oils such as soy, geranium, and peppermint oil are used in certain repellents. Although these components are typically not considered dangerous unless the product is registered with the EPA, its ability to repel insects may not have been tested.
Which insect repellent is the most effective against the Zika virus?
Mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus can be found throughout the United States, and there is presently no vaccination for the infection. Infected people can develop a fever, rashes, joint discomfort, and other symptoms.
Pregnant women are the ones who are most in danger because infection with the virus raises the possibility of kids being born with microcephaly, which is a brain defect.
Because there is no vaccine to prevent or treat Zika, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts when outdoors and using efficient insect repellents to avoid being bitten in the first place. Repellents containing 15 to 30% DEET, 20% picaridin, or 30% OLE are most effective against the mosquitos that carry the Zika virus.
Which mosquito repellent is best for babies?
While we’ve all heard concerns about DEET’s possible negative health consequences, more definitive information reveals that DEET is entirely safe to use and safe for babies 2 months and older when used as prescribed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also advises that DEET in concentrations of 10% to 30% is safe for babies two months and older.
Are insect repellants safe for kids?
In general, bug repellents are safe for children. While some parents avoid formulas containing DEET, the CDC states that it is safe for children over the age of two months. However, read the product label carefully and follow any precautions that may be listed.
Children under the age of ten should not apply insect repellent on their own, and parents should avoid putting repellent on children’s faces near their eyes and mouths.
Mader states that if you want to put repellent on your face, spritz and spread it on your hands first, then pat it over your facial skin to avoid these peaceful places. If you’re concerned about spraying directly onto exposed skin, you can spray the repellent onto clothing or shoes unless the label specifies otherwise.
Which mosquito repellent is best for dogs and cats?
While there are a few good solutions on the market, we believe that Vet’s Best Mosquito Repellant for Dogs and Cats is the best mosquito repellent for pets right now.
This product contains safe, plant-based components and has a veterinarian’s seal of approval. It’s also simple to use, has a lightly lemony aroma, is non-greasy, and has a three-year shelf life.
When it comes to mosquito repellant, how often should you use it?
In terms of how long bug repellents last, there are several options. Some provide 12 hours of protection, while others protect for a few hours. Make sure you read the label carefully to see how long the formula will last and reapply as needed.
Do bug repellents have a shelf life?
The longevity of most bug repellents is several years. However, this varies depending on the composition and, more precisely, the active ingredient.
If you don’t know how old or long a product will last, you should replace it every three years. When in doubt, we advise purchasing a new one.
Are there any plants that repel mosquitos?
Pennyroyal, feverfew, citronella grass, lavender, pyrethrum, marigolds, and peppermint are some plants that have been shown to repel mosquitoes and lower mosquito populations in gardens.
The finest mosquito repellent for your yard will ultimately depend on your preferred method of mosquito control: spraying, coil burning, electronic devices, or on-the-skin spray.
We’d highly advocate taking a no-nonsense approach to mosquito management and picking two of the above options, depending on where you are in the world and the intensity of the mosquito population in your yard.
With various mosquito-borne ailments on the horizon for those who take a more relaxed, informal approach, boosting your defenses is the way to go.
The Cutter Backyard Bug Control Spray for long-term spatial protection and the of! Deep Woods Insect Repellent for personal protection is our best recommendation out of all the options provided in this article. Whatever your situation is, it’s a no-brainer to protect yourself and your family from these nasty skeeters.
Using these two repellents together increases your chances of having a bite-free yard by repelling and deterring any die-hard skeeters that survive the onslaught of your spraying sessions and removing any mosquitoes that have bugged your home.
Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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