Tips For Pest Control

DEET for Repelling Mosquitoes: Safe or Not?

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keep-calm-and-wear-deetWith the incidents of mosquito-borne illnesses increasing, many people are wondering about the best way to protect themselves from these diseases. Diethyltoluamide, commonly called DEET, is a powerful pesticide that has been recommended to protect against Zika virus, West Nile virus and other illnesses, but are these chemicals safe to use? A look at what DEET is and how it should be used can help protect you against mosquitoes, as well as from pesticide contamination.

Understanding DEET

Diethyltoluamide, which is used in common insect repellents, is a yellow oil that is mixed with a variety of other substances to provide protection against biting insects, such as mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, ticks and other species. It was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the army, after soldiers experienced serious health effects during World War II. DEET appears to act on insects’ olfactory receptor neurons, causing them to be adversely affected by exposure to the chemical, and has been found to be highly effective for killing insects, repelling mosquitoes and preventing a number of insect-borne diseases.

Best Practices For Using DEET

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that DEET is safe for use in adults and for children over the age of 2 months old. In addition, DEET is safe for use by pregnant women and nursing mothers, producing no known damaging effects. However, consumers should use certain precautions when using pesticides.

  • These compounds should not be used on rashes or open wounds.
  • Users should carefully wash their hands after applying it to bare skin.
  • Users should be careful not to touch their noses and eyes before washing hands, because these compounds can cause irritation.
  • DEET should not be used under clothing.
  • Children should not apply DEET without careful supervision.
  • When using a spray product, spray onto hands first and then put to the face. Never spray directly onto the face.
  • Do not spray in enclosed areas, as this can cause lung irritation.
  • After returning indoors for the day, wash DEET from the skin, particularly if you have applied the pesticide several times during the day.
  • DEET should not be sprayed onto clothing. It can damage synthetic materials.
  • If an individual experiences a reaction after using DEET, seek medical attention immediately.

DEET Strengths

DEET is available in a variety of different strengths, such as 20, 30, 50 or 100 percent. Each strength provides protection for a different insect environment. The lower percentage ranges are best for use on children and for most outdoor environments found in Europe and the United States. Higher percentages of DEET offer protection for deep forest and jungle environments where populations of biting insects are heavier.

Consumers can choose from a number of different pesticide products to protect against mosquito bites and the resulting illnesses. DEET is still one of the best products on the market for preventing insect bites and is completely safe when used as directed.

Call Contractor’s Best for all your pest control needs.


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