While I am not sure where they got that fact, one thing is for sure: nobody enjoys mosquitoes. They’re a pest whether you’re traveling or trying to enjoy the great outdoors close to home. Even worse, they carry a host of pretty lousy diseases, some of which can be deadly.
So if you’re at war with mosquitoes, what’s the best weapon? There are lots of options, many of which include DEET, which has well documented effectiveness as a repellent. DEET, also known as diethyltoluamide, is generally considered safe, but can cause problems for people with damaged skin, or in some rare cases, even breathing difficulties, burning eyes or headaches. Because of those and other reported issues, some folks are looking for alternatives.
One my wife and I recently tried is called Proven, a 20 % Picaridin (pronounced pih-CARE-a-den) formula. Picaridin, also known as Icaridin, is a popular alternative to DEET. It is a synthetic compound, developed by Bayer which resembles piperine, found in plants used to produce black pepper. Picaridin is recommended by the CDC (which also recommends DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus), as being effective against mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis among other illnesses. According to Consumer Reports, 20 percent solutions of Picaridin are among the most effective mosquito repellents around.
Unlike with DEET, there are few reported issues using Picaridin-based repellents on anyone – pregnant and nursing women, children, etc. And Picaridin is not known to degrade plastic or plastic-based material – spandex, rayon, etc., which DEET can do.
Proven is a new product, and comes in a lotion and a spray like many other mosquito repellents (there is a long list of other biting insects it repels, also). We tried both Proven varieties and tested them in a place mosquitoes are known to thrive: the Southern U.S.
Dee, a confirmed user of products with DEET (no relation), tried out the lotion while tending to her vegetables and flowers, and found it worked just as well as Off, Skin So Soft and Cutter products which use DEET.
I tried the Proven spray, while working on a table on the open deck and a compost bin in the backyard, as well as while mowing the lawn, trimming trees, and so on, and I found the spray worked just as well. In both cases, we found that hours outside in hot spring weather didn’t seem to lessen effectiveness. The company marketing claims 12-14 hour effectiveness depending on whether you use the spray or the lotion. Based on our use testing, that tracks.
Another thing: we both liked the smell of Proven. We tried what the company calls the “odorless” variety and the lightly scented alternative. The latter was pleasant, like a light perfume which you notice briefly before it fades. It is not overwhelming or likely to interfere with the aroma of anything else. (I have to say that the spray made me cough a bit when I was applying it; that ceased as soon as the vapor settled. No other adverse reactions from either of us).
The bottom line for a bug repellent is whether it keeps the critters at bay. Based on our experience, Proven makes the grade. If it can handle the mosquitoes around here, I suspect it’ll have no problem protecting you on your more exotic adventures.
The upshot: Proven works well at warding off mosquitoes and contains ingredients that are known to be safe and nontoxic to most people.
Proven is made in Florida by Melrose Holdings, LLC., based in Overland Park, KS. You can get it at Meijer, Westlake Ace Hardware stores and select Dick’s Sporting Goods stores(the company website also lists Target, Ace Hardware, Bed Bath & Beyond and Zulily) or online in a range of sizes at ProvenRepellent.com for $7.95-$12.95. For more information, visit provenrepellent.com.