The insect repellent industry is gaining massive momentum worldwide. And according to the Google trends of the past 12 months, the Philippines were marked as the country with the highest number of web searches for insect repellent products. The trends also stated that the main season for insect repellents starts from the spring of March and begins to come down somewhere around November.
Insect activity generally starts when the environmental temperature reaches the level of 50°F. In hot weather, insects tend to thrive. Therefore, as the temperature starts to rise, the volume of the insect increases accordingly. During the hot summer months, the insect season reaches its peak. The season starts in the spring slowly, peaks in the summer, and fades into fall. Insects prefer warm weather, so the "insect season" occurs only where winters are cold. Until the first freeze or temperatures that are consistently below 50 degrees, insects will not go away for good.
What is insect repellent?
An insect repellent (also commonly referred to as "bug spray") is a substance that is applied to skin, clothing or other surfaces that discourages insects (and arthropods in general) from landing or climbing on the surface. Insect repellents help to prevent and control insect-borne (and other arthropod-borne) disease outbreaks like malaria, dengue fever, Lyme disease, bubonic plague, river blindness, and West Nile fever.
Pest animals that are widely used as disease vectors include insects like flea, fly, and mosquito; and arachnid tick. Some repellents of insects are insecticides (bug killers), but they mostly discourage insects and send them away flying or crawling. Classification as an insecticide means death even at lower doses at a massive dose without any relief.
How many kinds of insect repellents are there?
Insect repellents that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have several active ingredients. In this fact sheet, DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus are common insect repellents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages the use of products with one of these ingredients registered with the EPA.
They can be applied to human skin and some of them can be applied to clothing. Insect repellents are available across the market as wipes, sprays, or lotions. Oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are focused on chemicals that exist in nature but are ingredients that are man-made. These are both considered biopesticides because they are related to substances found in nature. Using its chemical name, p-menthane-3, 8-diol (PMD), lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE) could also be listed on products.
3 most searched insect repellent products straight from Google trends
Natural insect repellents during pregnancy
Using insect repellent is the best way to prevent mosquito bites and the diseases they spread — particularly if you're going to spend time outdoors. When you live in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent or plan to travel, and particularly if they are known to carry diseases, it is important to take proper precautions, and more so if you are pregnant. It is important to choose an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect spray. There’s a wide range of products that are considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to use.
DEET works against ticks and mosquitoes. A 25% preparation provides protection for up to 10 hours (lower concentrations can only provide protection for 2 hours). PMD is the lab-made version of an ingredient in the oil of lemon eucalyptus. Some studies suggest that for about 6 hours a 30 percent PMD preparation protects against some insects. In plants like rue (Ruta graveolens), bananas, cloves, and ginger, 2-undecanone can be found. For 3-5 hours, an 8% preparation may provide effective insect protection.
Electronic insect repellent
Thousands of electronic insect repellers have been appearing in online stores in recent years. Manufacturers claim to repel mosquitoes from their products, while consumers' opinions often vary. Some are happy with their purchases, saying they were helped to get rid of mosquitoes by the ultrasonic repellers, while others lament that it was a waste of money and that the devices did not do the job. In 2019, Thermacell is the best electronic insect repellent. It has shown the highest efficiency for electronic repellers. The device comes with the heating element activating repellent mats, releasing a highly effective insecticide— allethrin.
Non-toxic insect repellents
A study of insect repellents showed that the most effective natural alternative to DEET was the soy-based Bite Blocker for children. This natural bug repellent offered protection for more than 90 minutes, better than some DEET products with low concentration. Plants with reported repellent activity in essential oils include citronella, verbena, cedar, geranium, pine, lavender, cajeput, rosemary, cinnamon, basil, allspice, thyme, garlic, and peppermint.
Calendula ointment is also a very good repellent for insects. Unfortunately, repellents derived from plants have been studied relatively poorly. Usually, less than 2 hours when tested, most of the essential oils tended to provide short-lasting protection. But reapplying the essential oils is a small price to pay to keep a child protected from insects and free from insecticides that are potentially harmful.
The ongoing trends and expectations for the future
The insect repellent market is projected to become significantly prevalent across the globe especially between the months March and November. Comfortable, hygienic, clean, antimicrobial, and insect-repelling properties of textile products are gaining the growing momentum of research as a fundamental requirement for the production of multifunctional textiles. Such functional finishes are ideal for various applications such as bed nets and tenting, in-home textiles, camping gear and military uniforms. Synthetic repellents for antimicrobial agents and insects are quite effective against insects and microscopic organisms but are slightly toxic to humans and the environment. Scientists are considering natural agents for functional finishes to solve these issues, but their effectiveness for textile material is less durable. The adoption of natural and synthetic repellents, advertised in different pharmaceutical forms, is growing worldwide due to burgeoning vector-borne viral diseases such as Dengue, Zika, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya, and Malaria.