The 10 Strongest Mosquito Repellents

Malaria, a grave and potentially fatal illness is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infective female anopheline mosquito. However, it can also be transmitted congenitally from mother to fetus, through blood transfusion, organ transplantation, or unsafe needle-sharing practices. The disease is caused by five species of protozoan parasites known as Plasmodium: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale, and P. knowlesi.

Globally, malaria remains a significant public health concern, with over 240 million cases reported annually, with approximately 95% of them occurring in Africa. In the United States, the vast majority of malaria cases are imported and typically affect travelers returning from countries with ongoing malaria transmission, especially from regions in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States saw around 2,000 cases of mostly travel-related malaria each year. Of these cases, roughly 300 individuals experienced severe disease, with the majority being caused by P. falciparum, the most dangerous form of the parasite. Tragically, 5 to 10 individuals with malaria succumbed to the illness annually.

Most imported cases of malaria in the United States are typically diagnosed during the summer and early fall seasons. However, as of 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that summer international travel among U.S. residents and climate change will potentially raise the risk of more cases being imported into the country.

Mosquito in hand
Mosquito in hand

As the sun sets and warm summer evenings beckon us outdoors, pesky mosquitoes are quick to follow, leaving us with itchy bites and potential health risks. Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, and Zika make their presence known, making it crucial to protect ourselves. In this article, we present ten mosquito repellents that have proven effective, providing you with the best options to enjoy your time outdoors without fear of these unwelcome visitors.

1.        DEET-Based Repellents

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) has long been the gold standard for mosquito repellents. This powerful chemical effectively masks human scent, deterring mosquitoes from landing on your skin. Many leading brands offer DEET-based repellents, available in various concentrations to suit different needs. Remember to follow the instructions on the label for safe and effective use.

2.        Picaridin Repellents

Picaridin, another effective mosquito repellent, offers a non-greasy alternative to DEET. It is safe for children and adults alike, and unlike some other repellents, it does not damage clothing or gear. Picaridin-based repellents provide long-lasting protection, making them ideal for extended outdoor activities.

3.        Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

For those seeking a natural repellent, lemon eucalyptus oil is a popular choice. Derived from the leaves of the lemon eucalyptus tree, this oil has been endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an effective mosquito repellent. It offers a pleasant citrusy scent and can be used on both skin and clothing.

4.        Citronella Candles and Torches

Citronella candles and torches are a classic and eco-friendly way to repel mosquitoes from your outdoor gatherings. The distinct aroma masks human odors, making it harder for mosquitoes to find their targets. While they may not offer personal protection, placing several candles or torches around the area can create a mosquito-free zone.

5.        Mosquito Coils

Mosquito coils are another excellent option for keeping mosquitoes at bay. These spiral-shaped coils contain repellent substances that release smoke when lit. They are particularly useful for outdoor activities and camping trips, as they can cover a larger area and provide protection for several hours.

6.        Permethrin-Treated Clothing

For added protection during outdoor adventures, consider wearing clothing treated with permethrin. This insecticide effectively repels mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. Many outdoor apparel brands now offer permethrin-treated clothing options that can provide lasting protection, even after multiple washes.

7.        Ultrasonic Repellent Devices

Ultrasonic mosquito repellent devices claim to deter mosquitoes through the emission of high-frequency sound waves that are inaudible to humans. While research on their effectiveness is mixed, some people find them useful for creating a mosquito-free environment indoors.

8.        Neem Oil Repellents

Neem oil, extracted from the seeds of the neem tree, has natural insect-repelling properties. It can be used as a standalone repellent or mixed with carrier oils to create a DIY solution. Neem oil has the added benefit of soothing existing mosquito bites.

9.        Lavender Oil

Lavender oil not only has a pleasant fragrance but also acts as a mosquito repellent. You can apply it directly to the skin or use it in a diffuser to keep mosquitoes at bay indoors.

10.      Wear Light-Colored Clothing

While not a repellent in the traditional sense, wearing light-colored clothing can help deter mosquitoes. Dark colors tend to retain more heat and attract mosquitoes, so opt for light-colored, loose-fitting garments to minimize your attractiveness to these pests.


With these ten effective mosquito repellents at your disposal, you can now enjoy your outdoor activities without the constant buzzing and biting of mosquitoes. Whether you prefer DEET-based products, natural oils, or other innovative solutions, protecting yourself from mosquito bites has never been easier. Remember to choose the repellent that suits your needs best and follow the application instructions to ensure maximum efficacy and safety. Safeguard your summer and cherish every moment under the sun without worrying about these pesky intruders.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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