Q & A Library
Bugged by Bugs?
I am going camping soon in a variety of damp, wooded areas. Do you have any suggestions for warding off critters?
Answer (Published 7/13/2006)
Whenever you're outdoors in bug infested areas, it is best to protect yourself with insect repellents and with clothing that covers your arms and legs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently expanded its list of mosquito repellents, adding to its long-standing recommendation of products containing DEET. While they are effective, I find these repellents nasty and toxic. The CDC now lists oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant-based product registered with the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA). Registration indicates that the active ingredients in the repellent have been reviewed and approved for efficacy and human safety when used as recommended on the label. When oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the United States, it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET.
The other new repellent ingredient recommended by the CDC is picaridin, which is reputed to be as effective as DEET but is light, odorless and, reportedly, more pleasant to use. Picaridin has been widely used elsewhere in the world since 1998 and is recommended by the World Health Organization as the best protection against malaria. According to the EPA, picardin presents about the same toxicity risks as DEET.
As an alternative to the repellents described above, I recommend the following natural products:
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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