Zika is a growing threat in the United States, particularly here in the South where mosquitoes flourish in the summertime. All reported U.S. cases of Zika have so far involved people who traveled to areas with a current outbreak, but health experts have warned that local transmission cases are likely to occur in the coming weeks during summer mosquito season. Gulf Coast states, such as Florida and Texas, are seen as particularly vulnerable.1

In response to this growing threat, Consumer reports recently released their test results and ratings of mosquito repellents. "Using an insect repellent is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from Zika and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes," said Harry Savage, Chief of Ecology and Entomology Activity at the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. Consumer Reports' tests show that some repellents worked better than others at protecting against the Aedes mosquitoes, the type that carry Zika.

Here is a breakdown of the top recommended mosquito repellents based on overall score from Consumer Reports' tests.

Brand & ModelPriceOverall Score**Active IngredientsEffectiveness Aedes MosquitoesEffectiveness Culex MosquitosEffectiveness Deer Ticks
Sawyer Picaridin $8.25 96 Picaridin 20% 8 hours 8 hours 8.5 hours
Ben's 30% DEET Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula $8.00 93 Deet 30% 7.5 hours 8 hours 8.5 hours
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus* $7.50 87 Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus 30%
(Approx. 65% p-menthane- 3.8-diol)
7 hours 8 hours 7 hours
Natrapel 8 Hour $9.00 81 Picaridin 20% 8 hours 8 hours 6 hours
Off! Deepwoods VIII $6.50 74 Deet 25% 8 hours 8 hours 5 hours
*Do not use on children under age 3
** Overall score is based on mosquito and tick repelling effectiveness. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.

Consumer Reports advise skipping most products made with natural plant oils, such as California Baby Natural Bug Blend (a blend of citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, and other ingredients) and EcoSmart Organic, (which includes geraniol, rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil). They did not last for more than 1 hour against Aedes mosquitoes, and some failed almost immediately.1

The CDC provides these additional steps in preventing mosquito bites”2

Mosquito Bite Prevention (United States)

Not all mosquitoes are the same. Different mosquitoes spread different viruses and bite at different times of the day.

Type of MosquitoViruses spreadBiting habits

Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus Chikungunya, Dengue, Zika Primarily daytime, but can also bite at night
Culex species West Nile Evening to morning

Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites

Use insect repellent

Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Active ingredient
Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protectionSome brand name examples*

DEET Off! Cutter, Sawyer, Ultrathon
Picaridin, also known as KBR3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, Autan (outside the United States)
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) Repel
IR3535 Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition, SkinSmart
*Insect repellent brand names are provided for your information only. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cannot recommend or endorse any name brand products.
  • Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Reapply insect repellent every few hours, depending on which product and strength you choose.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Natural insect repellents (repellents not registered with EPA)

  • The effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents, is not known.
  • To protect yourself against diseases like chikungunya, dengue, and Zika, CDC and EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent.
  • When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective.
  • For more information: www2.epa.gov/insect-repellents

If you have a baby or child

  • Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child”s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child”s face.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years of age.

Treat clothing and gear

  • Treat items such as boots, pants, socks, and tents with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
    • Permethrin-treated clothing will protect you after multiple washings. See product information to find out how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions.
    • Do not use permethrin products directly on skin

Mosquito-proof your home

  • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use air conditioning when available.
  • Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in and near standing water.
    • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Check inside and outside your home.