They’re a bummer on an otherwise perfect summer day. But mosquitos can also carry diseases, including the West Nile virus, which was just detected in New York City this week.
With 170 mosquito species in North America alone, you should be slathering on repellent before your night out like you apply sunscreen in the morning.
But not all repellents are created equal. Look for ones that contain the least amount of DEET, a common active ingredient that should be washed off after you return home. Try one of these affordable natural products made with essential oils:
Burt’s Bees All Natural Outdoor Herbal Insect Repellent A blend of natural essential oils — rosemary, lemongrass, citronella — not only wards off bugs but has a fresh herbal scent. $10, Walgreens
Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Available as a lotion or spray, this line does double duty as a sunscreen and bug repellent. It’s also DEET-free! $6-$20, shop.avon.com
California Baby Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent California Baby’s products are gentle and safe enough for children. This repellent soothes existing bites while warding off new ones. $15.49, CaliforniaBaby.com
EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent Free of DEET and other synthetic chemicals, this keeps bugs away for hours with organic plant oils such as cinnamon. $7, EcoSmart.com
Erbaviva Organic Buzz Spray Ever considered catnip as a bug repellent? Erbaviva captures catnip oil (it belongs to the mint family) in its purest form and mixes it with lemon, eucalyptus, cedarwood, citronella and lemongrass oils for a citrusy-woodsy scent. $21, Erbaviva.com
Before the bite
Instead of just trying to avoid mosquito bites, get a step ahead and prevent them:
Eliminate standing water from flowerpots, children’s pools, watering cans and gutters. Keep lids on trashcans to avoid collecting rainwater.
Avoid heavily wooded and overgrown grassy areas, where insects swarm.
If you’re going to spend a lot of time outside, also spray any gear you bring along.
Light-colored clothing can help you spot insects before they bite. It’s already hot outside, but try to wear long sleeves and pants, especially if you’re going out around dawn or sunset.