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Bug Off: Keeping the Bites at Bay with Natural Insect Repellents


Our little family has been on-the-go this summer from the rainforest to the desert to the beach, and in each locale, we encountered bugs like we’ve never seen before. At the beginning of the summer, we had a little scare when my daughter developed the tell-tale ring from a tick infected with Lyme Disease. After a two-week course of harsh antibiotics, we made it our mission to stay bite-free to the best of our abilities. Admittedly, we were also a little freaked out by the ZIKA Virus and reports that infected mosquitos have been found in Florida, making this a serious issue demanding our attention.

Fast forward to the final weeks of summer. It’s hard to believe we’re in the home stretch of summer vacation and I know we’ll be squeezing as much outdoor time in as possible before the inevitable season change. I think we managed to do a decent job at keeping the bugs at bay and we wanted to share our findings so you can stay bite-free too. We tested three natural insect repellents, as we’re making a conscious effort to limit harsh chemicals in our home, especially when the littles are involved and I think we’ve discovered some great options.


Out of all the bug repellents we tried, this one received our highest rating. Natrapel is DEET-free, opting to use a Center for Disease Control (CDC)-recommended 20% Picaridin formula instead. The spray provides 12-hours of protection and guards against diseases transmitted by insects. We tested the pump spray, which traveled well and was easy to apply. Best of all, it wasn’t greasy on the skin and didn’t have a strong odor like others we tested.


parakito bands

This is by far the most fashionable and easiest to apply option out of the protection we tried. Instead of a spray, PARA’KITO comes in a refillable band that you wear around your wrist or ankle, and includes an essential oil pellet that repels bugs. The bands are refillable and the pellets last for up to 15 consecutive days and are even waterproof (bonus points for not having to reapply after a dip in the pool). My little guy is especially tasty to mosquitos but I found that using this in addition to a spray kept him bite-free. My daughter was fine with just the band although she is very picky when it comes to her accessories so keeping it on her was more of a challenge.

parakito band

Honest Bug Spray

I’m a huge fan of the Honest Company and have been a loyal customer for over five years. Unfortunately, this is probably my least favorite product in their line. Despite the copious amounts of awards and positive reviews that I found on the website, I found the citronella fragrance to be so overpowering I couldn’t really focus on anything else. This formula is also DEET-free however it only protects for up to 4 hours which doesn’t seem like enough time when you’re talking about keeping squirmy littles protected.

It’s proven that some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others so finding the best protection for you and your family might take a little tinkering with. We managed to stay fairly bite-free after our initial blunder with the tick and I think we found some effective and safe options for all of us. For more about what parents should know, visit the CDC for the most up to date info.

Some samples provided.

NANCY DEANE is a former marketing and lifestyle maven now on her biggest project yet: raising twins in Manhattan. This Canadian via California girl enjoys exploring beauty, fashion, travel, and design (for adults and kids alike) and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram as @toastncandy. Read all of Nancy’s posts.

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