About fly repellents
What insects are they effective against?
Some repellents work only against one form of insect – flies or mosquitoes, for example – whereas others provide general, all-encompassing protection against bugs in general – not just flies and mosquitoes, but also gnats, lice, ticks, fleas, spiders, cockroaches and more.
Different types of insect repellent
Insect repellents are available in the form of sprays, lotions or creams, gels or roll-ons.
Spray-on is the most popular form of repellent, the first choice of many because of their convenience and ease of application.
Lotions, creams or ointments in the form of an ’emulsion’ of water and oil are another options: the difference between them is that ointments are 70% or more oil, lotions are 70% or more water, whereas creams are a balanced mixture of both. Cream-based fly repellents are useful in situations where you want to precisely control the area that the insect repellent gets applied to. One disadvantage they possess is that they can be greasy and create a mess. This is especially true of ointments and creams: lotions, on the other hand, have a much higher water content, and so are more readily absorbed by the skin, leaving less residue behind.
Roll-ons also deliver targeted protection. If you want to apply repellent to a specific spot where a spray would not be a good option – such as your face – then a roll-on repellent is a good option. Another advantage of roll-ons is that there is no mess and they don’t get your hands dirty.
Safety and how to use insect repellents correctly
To get the best results from your insect repellant of choice, and to avoid unpleasant side effects including eye or skin irritation, correct use and application are very important.
Apply your repellent only to exposed areas of skin – or clothing – never under the clothing. And use only what is necessary to cover you and for the period of time required.
Keep it away from food also, and wash your hands after applying the repellent, and before you eat or drink. When you are finished with your outdoor activities for the day, wash the treated areas of skin with warm water and soap – and be sure to wash treated clothing separately.
Always follow the usage directions included with your product, and you shouldn't have any problems when using your product of choice.
Key ingredients of insect repellents
Each fly repellant contains an active ingredient – or ingredients – that is responsible for getting rid of those pests that you want to eliminate. However, they differ greatly when it comes to their strength, and also their toxicity and safety to humans and pets. So this is something you want to pay close attention to when you buy a prospective repellent. Here are the different kinds of active ingredients you will encounter in the fly repellants out there:
- DEET: an abbreviation for N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, DEET is a synthetic chemical that is the most commonly used ingredient in insect repellents. It is thought to work by creating a vapor barrier at the surface of the skin that repels mosquitoes looking to land on it. Although very effective, it is also thought by some to be toxic to humans and animals. Many people are therefore looking for alternatives to DEET-based insect repellents.
- Benzyl Benzoate: another synthetic, industrially-produced chemical that is often used in fly and other insect repellants. It is most commonly found in lotions.
- Citronella: as opposed to chemicals like DEET, citronella oil is an all-natural and non-toxic ingredient. Although used mostly in candles, soap and other cosmetic products, it is also effective at repelling flies, mosquitoes and other insects. It works by altering the receptors on the bug’s antennae that enable them to detect carbon dioxide and other gases emitted by our body – which in turn is what enables these pests to find us.
- Essential oils: a number of essential oils like that derived from the rosemary herb are also known to make good insect repellents. Once again, they provide an eco-friendly, non-toxic alternative to DEET-based repellents.
- Permethrin: permethrin and other pyrethroids form another class of synthetic insecticides. Actually, they are attempts to replicate the chemical structure of pyrethrum, a constituent of certain species of the chrysanthemum flower, and which has been known for centuries to make a very effective natural insecticide. One benefit of permethrin-based insecticides is that they provide enduring, weeks-long protection after being applied. DEET, by contrast, needs to be applied much more regularly. Moreover, unlike DEET permethrin-based fly repellents don’t leave any odors.