Many people visit the Sunshine State for its white-sand beaches and nature preserves but forget to pack one of the most important essentials: bug spray. Nothing ruins an outdoor adventure quite like bug bites all over your arms and legs! Plus, you never know whether bugs are carrying serious diseases.
The good news is, most insect repellents are enough to give you a sturdy line of defense against pests. However, choosing an effective bug spray takes more work than you might think. If you’re traveling to Florida and want to take along the best insect repellent, we’ve listed our top picks and explain how to shop for the right one!
Top Insect Repellents In 2021
- Best Overall Bug Spray: Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
- Best Bug Spray For Mosquitoes: OFF! Deep Woods
- Best Natural Spray Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
- Best Indoor Spray: All Terrain Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent
- Best Spray For Roaches: Raid Ant & Roach Killer Insecticide Spray
- Best Spray For Spiders: Terro Spider Killer Spray
- Best Patio & Deck Repellent: Thermacell Patio Shield
- Best For Kids: OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent
- Best For Sensitive Skin: Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard
- Best Lotion Repellent: 3M Ultrathon Lotion
- Best Candle Repellent: Cutter Citro Guard Candle
- Best For Clothing: Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent Clothing & Gear
- Best Bug Repelling Wipes: Repel Insect Repellent Wipes
- Best Picaridin-Based Option: Proven Mosquito & Tick Spray
- Best Aerosol Option: Ben’s Tick Repellent
- Best DEET Spray: Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent
Best Overall Bug Spray – Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent
The Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent contains a 20% concentration of picaridin, a popular ingredient that provides the same protection as DEET without the chemical consequences. Sawyer’s easy-to-use pump makes the application neater, unlike most aerosol products, leaving no unwanted puddles on your skin.
It also comes with a secure double-cap design that keeps the bottle from leaking into your backpack. If you prefer a spray version, this product is also available in aerosol cans and different sizes.
- Provides up to 12 hours of protection
- Safe for use during pregnancy and on children
- Effective against disease-spreading insects
Best Bug Spray For Mosquitoes – OFF! Deep Woods
OFF! Deep Woods is a family favorite for a good reason – it’s the most effective against mosquitoes. It’s formulated with 25% DEET, which provides long-lasting protection and helps prevent instances of Zika or Dengue.
Thanks to its powder-dry formula, this mosquito repellent doesn’t feel oily or greasy on the skin. However, it can stain clothing, gear, and shoes.
- Aerosol spray makes for easy application
- Highly available in grocery stores and pharmacies
- Effectively kills disease-carrying pests
Best Natural Bug Spray – Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
If you aren’t a fan of DEET or picaridin, this natural insect repellent instead contains lemon eucalyptus oil – natural yet effective. Unlike other natural ingredients, this oil is the only one recommended as an insect repellant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), so you can rest assured it’ll keep bugs off your back.
Despite its oil base, this spray doesn’t feel greasy on the skin. Remember that this DEET-free pump spray only protects for up to six hours compared to the typical eight to twelve, so you’ll have to apply it more often.
- Non-chemical ingredients with a refreshing scent
- Keeps its wearer protected for up to six hours
- Doesn’t stain clothes or gear
Best Indoor Bug Spray – All Terrain Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent
Spraying insect repellent indoors can be a nuisance because of its unwanted, pungent odors. Thankfully, thIs pump spray is fragrance-free and environmentally friendly, making it appropriate for use indoors.
While it isn’t as long-lasting as most DEET-containing bug sprays, this product does an excellent job of protecting sensitive skin. It repels a wide variety of insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and gnats.
- Contains natural ingredients instead of chemical agents
- Ideal for sensitive skin and young children
- Has a mild, pleasant scent
Best Spray For Roaches – Raid Ant & Roach Killer Insecticide Spray
Nobody likes dealing with a roach infestation! Luckily, the Raid Ant and Roach Killer Insecticide Spray makes it easy to get rid of them – just remember not to spray it on your body! This impressive spray can kill up to 26 insects in a given space upon contact and doesn’t leave a lingering chemical odor.
While not a long-term solution, this spray is temporarily effective enough to eliminate roaches on their usual trail. Bear in mind that this formula contains chemical ingredients that you’ll want to refrain from using around children and pets.
- Instantly kills roaches upon impact
- Does not leave an unpleasant odor
- Effective against many other pests
Best Spray For Spiders – Terro Spider Killer Spray
Unlike most spider killers, this aerosol spray works as an immediate solution or for long-term use. You can spray this product into cracks and crevices in your home wherever you know spiders like to hide.
Overall, this spray is effective against black widows, brown recluses, and hobo spiders. It is also appropriate for repelling bugs such as biting flies, ants, roaches, and crickets.
- Provides extended killing power for long-term use
- Can be used as a direct application or broad treatment
- Kills multiple other insects
Best Patio & Deck Repellent – Thermacell Patio Shield
If you love to lounge on the patio, the Thermacell Patio Shield is a must-have. This lantern-style mosquito repellent utilizes one fuel cartridge without the need for batteries or charging. While technically not a spray, it creates a 15-foot protection zone and is effective against multiple insects.
The unscented repellent mats are effective for up to four hours and change color when they need replacing. Its active ingredient is allethrin, which is a naturally occurring repellent that exists in many plants.
- Comes with three repellent mats that are easy to refill
- Repels without smoke, embers, or strong scents
- EPA-reviewed for safety and effectiveness
Best For Kids – OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent
Formulated with only 5% picaridin, this gentle formula is ideal for use among families with young children. It is dermatologist-approved and doesn’t feel oily on the skin. Still, it offers potent protection against mosquitoes and is also effective for other bugs. You won’t have to worry about ruining your child’s wardrobe, either – this bug repellent doesn’t stain clothing.
- Not oily or greasy against the skin
- Protects for six hours
- Contains only 5% picaridin
Best For Sensitive Skin – Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard
Some bug repellents can feel sticky and slick on exposed skin – not this one. It has a lightweight feel and a very mild scent protecting against mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, and other pests.
This dermatologist-tested bottle spray is DEET-free and oil-free, perfect for users who suffer from skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. For more persistent pests like black flies, you’ll have to reapply the spray every three hours.
- Protects for six hours
- Very mild to no scent
- Sprays evenly on the entire body
Best Lotion Repellent – 3M Ultrathon Lotion
If you need more coverage than a typical spray bottle can provide, this long-lasting lotion is for you. It contains more DEET than usual at 34%, making it highly effective for outdoor enthusiasts who travel often.
It’s even waterproof, so you can count on it to remain effective even at the lake or when hiking in humid climates. While it protects for twelve hours, this lotion has a stronger scent than most repellents.
When using it on your face, remember to spread it evenly across your hands before applying it. Also, avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes and mouth.
- Extremely long-lasting
- Contains optimal levels of DEET for expert protection
- Can repel insects that carry the Zika Virus, West Nile Virus, and Dengue Fever
Best Candle Repellent – Cutter Citro Guard Candle
Want to repel mosquitoes in an entire area? If you enjoy spending time outdoors while at home, the Cutter Citro Guard Candle contains a 20-ounce wax blend that provides natural protection against backyard bugs. Thanks to its stable base and taller build, you won’t have to worry about the flame blowing out even on windy days.
This three-wick candle can burn for up to 40 hours, repelling insects before you even step out onto the patio.
- Produces more light than single-wick candles, excellent for deterring bugs
- Burns for almost 40 hours
- Effective for larger spaces
Best For Clothing – Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent Clothing & Gear
Do you often experience skin irritation when using bug spray? This DEET-free bug spray is designed to be used on clothing instead. Other than picaridin, its active ingredients include permethrin, which is often used to treat lice and scabies. Its winning formula is effective against most insects and does not leave a strong odor.
It’s also the best bug spray for bed bugs. Frequent campers love this insect repellent for keeping bugs away from tents, hammocks, and sleeping bags. You can even use it on babies or young children.
- Protects clothes for up to six washes
- Does not leave a strong, bothersome smell
- Suitable for use with young children
Best Bug Repelling Wipes – Repel Insect Repellent Wipes
If you’re not a fan of greasy residue from spray repellent or lotions, these Repel Insect Repellent Wipes make it easy to apply adequate protection to your skin. Not to mention, they are easy to use on younger children who may not enjoy the feeling of sprays or oils.
One pack of this bug repellent contains fifteen 30% DEET wipes. Its compact size makes it easily packable into your backpack or pocket.
- Prevents mosquito bites and flea infestations
- Lasting protection for up to eight hours
- Repels insects that carry the West Nile Virus
Best Picaridin-Based Option – Proven Mosquito & Tick Spray
The best bug sprays typically contain active ingredients like picaridin to ward off pests effectively. The Proven Mosquito and Tick Spray isn’t any different – but it is better. Containing 20% picaridin, this product often does a more thorough job of killing insects than most DEET repellents.
It’s less likely to leave the skin feeling greasy and sticky or causing an allergic reaction. The product is also fragrance-free and long-lasting.
- Repels mosquitos for more than twelve hours
- Odorless and non-greasy
- Registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for guaranteed safe use
Best Aerosol Option – Ben’s Tick Repellent
Ben’s Tick Repellent is a go-to for hikers looking for an extra-strength bug-repelling aerosol against flying insects. It contains 20% picaridin and can easily combat mosquitos, ticks, and more.
Its aerosol technology provides a generous load of repellent and even sprays well upside-down. Camping in a tick-infested site? Ben’s Tick Repellent does an impressive job of eliminating bugs that carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Safe for use on clothing, gear, and shoes
- Does not do damage to synthetic materials
- Provides twelve hours of tick protection
Best DEET Spray – Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent
Though natural repellents are all the rage nowadays, DEET remains a reliable active ingredient in the best bug sprays. This formula contains 25% DEET and wards off mosquitoes for more than twelve hours. Because its nozzle is larger than most other sprays, it can spray a fine mist across a greater surface area.
While it does leave a relatively potent smell, it shouldn’t be too bothersome on a hike. Note that it also takes longer to settle on the skin but doesn’t feel too greasy.
- Has a 25% DEET formula
- Easily portable and ideal for outdoor activities
- Sweat and water-resistant
What To Consider When Picking The Best Insect Repellent
No two insect repellents are the same. When shopping for an insect repellent, here are a few factors you’ll need to think about before picking the right one.
The most effective bug spray usually contains at least one of these primary synthetic active ingredients:
However, some of these ingredients can be irritating to the skin. If you suffer from skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, you might want to prioritize a bug spray with organic ingredients or added aloe instead. A plant-based lemon eucalyptus insect repellent will also do. Other natural insect repellents containing citronella, vanilla, or geranium may not be as effective as lemon eucalyptus bug sprays.
Naturally, the best insect repellents will protect you against bites and diseases for the longest time possible. Higher concentrations will always provide better protection. However, too high a concentration can cause various health problems.
Unfortunately, most DEET-free insect repellents with natural oils don’t last as long as their DEET-filled counterparts. Your best option is to find a product that offers protection for at least 60 minutes within the first application. Compare this to insect repellents with lower concentrations of DEET that can provide up to 90 minutes of protection.
If you don’t have skin problems, you can always use a bug spray containing at least one preferred active ingredient listed above.
You may not think so, but how you apply insect repellent can make a difference. Generally, sprays and lotions do a better job of covering the entire body than an insect-repelling wipe would. They are often more concentrated and easier to spread on the body.
Not every insect responds to bug spray in the same way. For instance, one product may be more effective at repelling mosquitos than it is at repelling ticks. Always pick a product that is effective against insects that you encounter more frequently.
The Bottom Line
Wherever bugs go, effective repellents keep you safe. Before hitting the waves at your favorite Florida beach or exploring the famous Everglades National Park, always make sure you pack along a board-certified dermatologist-tested bug spray to prevent bites and nasty diseases.
Remember to note active ingredients, wear time, and whether a specific repellent is suitable for young kids. Your bite-free body will thank you later!
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Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.