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Insect Repellent Ingredients
Deet - Permethrin - Essential Oils

 

There are a variety of chemicals used to repel insects. Some are extracts from plants but the most effective ones are synthetics. Below is a list of your choices:

  • DEET is the most effective repellent against mosquitoes and ticks.
  • R-326 is the most effective insect repellent against flies, gnats, and no-see-ums.
  • MGK-264 is both a mosquito repellent and a synergist.
  • Permethrin kills ticks, mosquitoes or other insects when it comes in contact with them. It is used on clothing and materials.
  • Essential Oils are compounds which occur in nature and may provide a short period of repellency against insects.
DEET  (N, N-Diethyl-3-Methylbenzamide)
Formerly known as N,N-diethyl-m-Toluamide, Deet is by far the most commonly used insect repellent in the world. This is because it is the most effective repellent against mosquitoes and ticks. After researching hundreds of compounds, Deet was selected by the USDA and the U.S. military as the most economical and safest compound to use. Deet has a remarkable safety record. Billions of applications of Deet occur annually, and Deet has been in widespread use since 1954. There are no studies or clinical observations to suggest long term dangers of Deet when used properly and in accordance with label directions.
R-326 (Di-n-propyl Isocinchomeronate)
R-326 is the most effective insect repellent against flies, gnats, no-see-ums, and similar pesky insects. R-326 is far more effective than deet against these insects and R-326 only needs to be present in small quantities. Because the molecules are much larger than deet molecules they are absorbed less, and when used in formulations with deet, they even lower the deet absorption rate by blocking access to the skin.
MGK-264  (N-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide)
MGK-264 is both a mosquito repellent and a synergist. As a synergist, or potentiator, MGK-264 both repels mosquitoes and helps Deet do an even better job of repelling mosquitoes than it would by itself. The MGK-264 molecule is much larger than the Deet molecule in size and thus less is absorbed into the skin.
COMPOSITE or BROAD SPECTRUM
Deet + R326 + MGK264. These three active ingredients together are called Composite or Broad Spectrum insect repellent. The effective mosquito and tick repellency of Deet and MGK-264, plus repellency of flies, gnats, no-see-ums, and such from the R-326. By working together they each become more effective, last longer, and absorb less into the skin than straight Deet formulas. Broad Spectrum Sprays or Deet Plus Lotion.
PERMETHRIN
Permethrin is a contact insecticide which kills ticks, mosquitoes and many other insects when it comes in contact with them. It is used on clothing and other materials. It uses the same active ingredient used in hair shampoos for head lice. Though harmless to the skin, skin contact de-activates permethrin within fifteen minutes and it is not approved as a skin repellent. As a clothing, tent or sleeping bag, mosquito netting or gear application, permethrin is very effective at keeping ticks from attaching to you and at reducing the mosquito population in your camping area. Aerosol Spray or Soak-Style applications of permethrin can remain effective for up to six weeks of exposure to light or oxygen, and through several washings. Water based non-aerosol products can last for two weeks. Permethrin is odorless when dried, and bonds to fibers similar to colorants. Effective lifetime can be extended considerably if items are stored in black plastic bags - out of sunlight and air - between uses.
Will Permethrin Damage My Clothes?
Permethrin is safe for all known fabrics, including fragile ones such as silk. Not approved for use in direct contact with skin, but can be applied to stuffed furniture, a pillow below a pillow-slip, a mattress below sheets, the outside of sleeping bags, nooks and crannies, window screens, etc.
ESSENTIAL OILS
Many compounds which occur in nature provide a short period of repellency against insects. There are well over 150 natural repellents but the more commonly used ones are Citronella, Eucalyptus, Lemon Leaves, Peppermint, Lavender, Cedar Oil, Canola, Rosemary, Pennyroyal, and Cajeput. Essential oils are used primarily by persons concerned about exposure to Deet. Generally the EPA considers these oils safe to use in low percentage concentrations but overall their effectiveness is usually limited to less than 30 minutes.

Warning:
Beware of formulas that are not registered with the EPA. Some unregistered repellents have dangerously high concentrations of essential oils and, though somewhat effective against insects, may irritate the skin and cause other side effects. The EPA does not approve any repellent containing more than 10% essential oils and requires registration of any formula with over 3% essential oils. At high concentrations, these essential oils may not be safe.

 

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