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Most of Us Don’t Buy or Use Insect Repellent

By Chris Williams on August 21, 2014.

bug sprayThose of us in the pest control industry were floored to read that less than ¼ of Americans buy insect repellent to protect their families from bites and diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks. This surprising info came from a Harris poll conducted for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the member association of pest control companies. The online survey polled more than 2,000 adults.

This is especially shocking because the number of diseases attributed to blood-sucking pests in this country is increasing all the time. Just this summer, the media has warned us about chikungunya virus (see “Should I Be Worried About Chikungunya?”) and there’s an even newer mosquito disease called zika fever that is spreading worldwide. In addition, we have serious diseases that have been around for many years: West Nile virus, dengue fever, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and eastern equine encephalitis, to name a few (see “It’s Late Summer…Are Mosquitoes Still a Disease Threat?”).

Use Sunscreen and Insect Repellent Together

“In recent years, the use of sunscreen has become habitual for the majority of Americans and their families who spend time outdoors during the summer months,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “We hope the public will begin to recognize the application of insect repellent as another critical tool in protecting their families’ health. As a rule, insect repellent should always be applied on top of sunscreen, and reapplied every four to six hours.”

The survey also found that only about half of the people who do buy insect repellent actually check the container to make sure it contains at least one of four essential ingredients. Not all repellent ingredients work equally well. Choose a product that has one of these active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535.

See our blog on “Choosing and Using Insect Repellents” for more on how to protect your family from mosquito and tick-transmitted diseases.

Photo credit: Spokenhope / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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