Sometimes the new stuff isn’t as good as the old stuff. Take mosquito repellent.
A new study shows that even Victoria’s Secret Bombshell Perfume is better at warding off mosquitos than natural “DEET-free” products like Cutter Natural Insect Repellent, Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard, EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent and the vitamin B1-based Mosquito Skin Patch.
In tests, the perfume repelled one type of mosquito for 120 minutes, which was almost as good a performance as DEET–a chemical that has been warding off mosquitoes since World War II.
“Not all repellents are created equal–unfortunately they’re advertised as such,” says Stacy Rodriguez, a research assistant in New Mexico State University’s Molecular Vector Physiology Lab. “It’s important to let consumers know what is actually effective.”
Researchers tested eight commercially available repellents, two perfumes, and a vitamin B patch. Using a Y-shaped tube, they put a volunteer’s exposed arm at one end and about 20 mosquitoes at the other end in a holding chamber. Once released, if the insects flew towards the scented skin, they were attracted; if they stayed as far away as possible–they were repelled.
The research is published in the Journal of Insect Science.
DEET products, such as Repel 100 Insect Repellent, OFF Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII and Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent, all worked the best. But the response to the “fruity floral notes” of Victoria’s Secret Bombshell concoction (“purple passion fruit, shangri-la peony, vanilla”) was surprising.
“There was some previous literature that said fruity, floral scents attracted mosquitoes, and to not wear those,” says Rodriguez, in a press release. “It was interesting to see that the mosquitoes weren’t actually attracted to the person that was wearing the Victoria’s Secret perfume–they were repelled by it.”
That could suggest some two-for-one properties to wearing certain fragrances. But the research’s larger conclusion is that DEET is still best. Unless you want to get bitten, it sounds like you should stick to the tried-and-true methods.