Insect repellent

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Commercial insect repellents
A mosquito biting a human

An insect repellent is a substance applied to skin, clothing, or other surfaces which discourages insects (and arthropods in general) from landing or climbing on that surface. There are also insect repellent products available based on sound production, particularly ultrasound (inaudibly high frequency sounds). These electronic devices have been shown to have no effect as a pest repellent by studies done by the EPA and many universities.

Common insect repellents include:

  • Citronella
  • DEET
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Picaridin or icaridin (a piperidine derivative)

Some insect repellents, particularly permethrin, are insecticides. Other insect repellents work instead by masking human scent, or by using a scent which insects naturally avoid.

Insect repellents help prevent and control the outbreak of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, Lyme disease, bubonic plague, and West Nile fever. Insects commonly serving as vectors for disease include fleas, flies, mosquitos, and ticks.


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