Mosquitos spend the summer whirring around obnoxiously, leaving itchy bites as souvenirs, and making news for carrying scary diseases like West Nile and Zika. We all want to beat the bugs before they bite, but before you reach for a natural mosquito repellent, know this: most of them don’t work, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Insect Science.
Perhaps that’s why DEET is the gold standard mosquito repellent. It’s powerful and highly effective—and it’s safer than many people assume. It’s approved as a repellent by many public health organizations, including the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition to being effective at keeping mosquitos away, it’s the only bug repellent recommended for avoiding ticks.
Still, it’s understandable if you’d prefer to have a more natural option on hand to fend off mosquitos. And there is one—yes, only one—naturally derived ingredient that can provide long-lasting protection against mosquito bites: oil of lemon eucalyptus, also known as PMD or OLE.
Excerpted from Prevention