Natural Bug Sprays

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The Record released a study of seven natural bug sprays to test the effectiveness against insects. The products tested were rated on the following scale:

*** = excellent results

** = lukewarm results

* = you’re basically bug candy

With our increased concern over DEET and other chemical pesticides, a swarm of new all-natural and organic bug sprays has recently hit the market. These earth-friendly products draw on the power of essential oils, the fragrant compounds drawn from plants' leaves, flowers, stems, seeds and other parts; but scientific data are unclear whether they're truly effective bug repellents.

Bug and Tick Spray for People and Pets by Honey Birch Farms - Tested by Jaclyn Antonacci

  • Rating: ***
  • Scent: Very natural, almost had a soap-like scent to it. A little too strong for me, though.
  • Did it work: It did! There were a lot of greenhead flies out. The people I was with were complaining about being bitten, but I didn't have any problems with them. No mosquitoes either.
  • Conditions: Dusk at the shore, near some high grass areas and the beach.
  • Comments: I was outside for about 30 minutes and wasn't bothered by anything. Only complaint: the scent stayed on my skin and clothes for a really long time
  • Cost: $16 for 8 ounces.

Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent - Tested by Elyse Toribio

  • Rating: ***
  • Scent: Smelled like Pine-Sol and everyone told me as much as soon as I put it on.
  • Did it work: Yes.
  • Conditions: Tried it at Governor’s Ball (outdoor concert on Randall’s Island, N.Y.C.) in the two days after that bad storm. Was very muddy and hot throughout the park, basically a hotbed for insects but I didn't get bit. I also put it on near dusk in a back yard after the grass had recently been watered. I got bit once before putting in on, then never again. Didn't have to reapply for hours on both occasions.
  • Comments: It’s very greasy.
  • Cost: $8 for 4 ounces.

Shangri-La Farm's Natural Insect Repellent - Tested by Marlaina Cockcroft

  • Rating: **
  • Scent: Pleasant but comes on strong; it caused some coughing.
  • Did it work: As far as I can tell.
  • Conditions: Various grassy back yards at dusk, once on a farm in mid-afternoon.
  • Comments: It's not a problem to use, but hold your breath during application.
  • Cost: $6.95 for 4 ounces.

Buzz Away - Tested by Esther Davidowitz

  • Rating: **
  • Scent: Smelled like a citronella candle.
  • Did it work: Yes—until it didn't. It was fine until the sun started going down and the mosquitoes started coming out.
  • Conditions: Very woodsy back yard, going into dusk.
  • Comments: The product felt slightly greasy on my skin but after five minutes or so I didn't mind the greasy feeling. My eyes also started tearing a bit. I put it on at 5:44 p.m. on a muggy evening but by 7:10 p.m. needed to re-spray. Started feeling the bugs coming.
  • Cost: $8.99 for 4 ounces.

Badger Anti-Bug Balm - Tested by Sachi Fujimori

  • Rating: *
  • Scent: Lemon drop mixed with Pine-Sol.
  • Did it work: for about 20 minutes and then the bugs came biting.
  • Conditions: Around 7:30 pm, sitting on a park bench near thick bushes.
  • Comments: I intentionally sat near the bushes with a swarm of mosquitoes and gnats to see if it would work, and it didn’t. I left with several bug bites on my arms. Also, it left a waxy residue that had to be scrubbed off in the shower.
  • Cost: $11.99 for 1.5 ounces.

Bug Out by Way Out Wax - Tested by Jim Beckerman

  • Rating: No stars
  • Scent: Minty Listerine mixed with turpentine.
  • Did it work: No.
  • Conditions: Several attempts, afternoon and dusk
  • Comments: Appeared to baffle mosquitoes at first. Several landed without biting. But when I went in later, exposed areas treated with Bug Out! were covered with mosquito bites.
  • Cost: $6.99 for 4 ounces.

California Baby Natural Bug Blend - Tested by Ray Edel

  • Rating: Inconclusive
  • Scent: Smelled like most insect repellents, like citronella.
  • Did it work: Yes.
  • Conditions: Afternoon and in un-mowed county park.
  • Comments: Did not see any bugs at all during the time I was outside.
  • Cost: $14.99 for 6.5 ounces.

Of the natural bug sprays tested, Bug and Tick Spray for People and Pets by Honey Birch Farms and Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent had the best performance. Tick and mosquito-borne diseases like Lyme disease, and West Nile virus are real and preventative measures should be taken. Do not let the fear of these insect prevent you from enjoying the outdoors. Natural insect repellents are now available to make outdoor fun more enjoyable.

Along with natural bug sprays, around your home and property you can reduce insect populations in and around your home. Taking the preventative steps, along with applying insect repellents and an ongoing pest control service, you can reduce your risk against mosquito and tick bites and pest infestations. With cases of West Nile increasing it is important to protect your family, health and property. Our mosquito tips above will help reduce mosquito breeding areas in and around your property. To learn more about Thomas Pest Services and our green mosquito service headed over to our website and fill out our contact form to learn how Thomas Pest can assist with your mosquito problem.

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