Which Bug Spray Is The Best – The Breakdown
It doesn't come up often, but when the topic of which bug spray is the best, I've pretty much used them all. I spend quite a bit of time outdoors year round, and while my best advice is to plan the fun stuff from November to March because that's when the bugs are nearly non-existent in Southwest Oklahoma, I understand it's hard to get people to show up to a bar-b-que when it's snowing. Believe me, we did it in February and it was glorious.
I've never been too concerned with mosquitoes because I'm either up and out early when the sunrise chases them back into hiding, or I'm usually done and back inside before dusk just because that's how my family has always been. All the same, with the morning cloud cover and extremely moist conditions, those South Texas sized skeeters have been eating me up while mowing in the mornings and while I work away in the garage in the evenings. It's ridiculous. Luckily, I always have a can or two of bug spray near. There's one in the shop, one in the garage, two in the laundry room, one in the truck, etc... No shortage at all, but they're almost all different brands, I'll tell you why.
If you ask a person about which bug spray is best, they'll have an opinion. Perhaps it's something they've used forever, or their parents and grands used it since the dawn of dirt, but this day in age they're all just about the same, and they say it right on the label. Having lived in the rural areas of a few states so much in my life, there's one word that stands above them all, DEET. It's the active ingredient in most bug sprays that chases those little pests away. Some people waste time arguing about the effects of long term use and some big-chem conspiracy to control people, but I know lots of old people that have used it since the 1940's and they're all just fine in their incredibly old age. If you don't trust it, don't use it, but always look on the label for how concentrated the DEET is.
Most bug spray products you find will contain something like 25-30% DEET in the formula. I usually just buy whatever is on sale at that time. If two cans are sitting next to each other, they both contain the same amount of the bug-hated chemical, and they're somehow a different price, why in the world would you pay more for the same thing you could have cheaper? In that, you'll find the best bug spray you can find... the cheaper one. All the same, the real outdoorsy stuff back in the sporting goods section geared towards hunters and anglers will often bump that DEET concentration up to 40% for a very marginally higher price. It's up to you to determine if it's worth the additional money. After all, you could just buy two cheaper cans and put twice as much on right?
There are other methods out there people swear by. My grandma used something made by Avon. I had a crazy uncle that used to safety pin dryer sheets onto our collars. To each their own. If you just want to try to clear an area like the back porch, look into the DIY mosquito traps. They're super effective and benefit everyone in the neighborhood since you'd actually be killing these vermin instead of encouraging them off to a new feeding ground.