Insect repellent

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A substance, often odorous, that insects are thought to avoid. An insect repellent is applied to skin, clothing, or other surfaces to discourage insects (and arthropods in general) from landing or climbing on that surface. In general, insect repellents do not kill the insect, as that would then change its classification to 'Insecticide'.

Examples of insect repellents are: Citronella oil, Eucalyptus oil, dimethyl phthalate, n-n,dimethyl-meta-toluamide (Off), Naphthalene (mothballs), Phenol, Camphor, Paradichlorobenzene (mothballs), Cedar oil, pine tar oil, Colocynth oil, Permethrin (toxic to cats), etc.

For protection against mosquito bites, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends Deet, picaridin (icaridin, KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus (para-menthane-diol or PMD), ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate and 2-undecanone.

Synonyms and Related Terms

bug spray;


  • Some insect repellents can stain or dissolve polymers

Resources and Citations

  • Lynda A. Zycherman, J.Richard Schrock, A Guide to Museum Pest Control, FAIC and Association of Systematics Collections, Washington DC, 1988