Updated January 2022

Mosquito repellents

We tested 17 repellents, including four natural products, to see which ones work best to stop mosquitoes biting.

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Marcus A.
01 Feb 2022
I'm not convinced by any of them!

I am that person who, if there is even one biting insect, will be the person it makes a beeline for. I get bitten many times and during the same period my wife will get no bites at all. DEET works best but is by no means infallible if they think you taste good!

Worst are the sandflies on west coast of NZ. I now avoid going there if at all possible. Nothing seems to repel them at all.

chris m.
29 Jan 2022
Better than DEET?

I was working in Timor Leste in 202-14 and an Australian man gave me a recipie devised by the Government of New South Wales in the 1970s. Well, that's the story I think he tolde me. Never mind, I used it and it works better than commercial products and is far cheaper.
1. Dettol
2. Ethyl alcohol
3. Baby oil or coconut oil or olive oil

Mix one third each into a bottle with suitable hole in the top.
Shake to mix just before application and spread on.
Alcohol evaporates and leaves oil and dettol behind (odour is quite small)

Lasts all day and no mozzie bites.
I also hada a large black fly land on a deet-covered arm and then bite me.
I applied the dettol mix within an hour and the black fly came back. It landed, walked around and then left - no bite.
A Finnish man reported back that it worked 100% in his country (repelling their ferocious biters).

Jan G.
31 Jan 2022
Many thanks Chris

My parents always used that recipe when coming to visit us when we lived in Fiji and I had forgotten the recipe, so it is really good to have it again.

Robert F.
29 Jan 2022
Our favourite is Plantation Island Walkabout

We don't encounter many mosquitos since plugging a couple of of those ultrasonic insect repellers around the house, but the occasional one or two get in and bother us in the bedroom. We also wear glasses and had a bad experience with one of the brands that discoloured the plastic on some glasses frames. We've been using the Plantation Island Walkabout roll-on for years now and find it very effective as a repellent. My wife uses it to repel sandflies in the garden and we both use it to keep mosquitos from buzzing our ears or landing on our arms when we're reading in bed. We particularly like the ingredients. The only problem is that it's not readily available in NZ and we have to get it sent over from OZ.

Active Ingredients:

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Oil)
Lemon Scented Tea Tree Oil (Leptospermum Petersonii Leaf Oil)
Citronellal – repel insects.
*Free from petrolatum, mineral oils, silicon, SLS, SLES, animal-derived ingredients, synthetic preservatives, and parabens.

Graeme D.
31 Dec 2020
Bug Grrr Off Jungle Strength - doesn't work on sandflies

I purchased Bug Grrr Off Jungle Strength from Wholefoods Market in Christchurch. I just got back from a summer holiday where unfortunately I discovered this product doesn't work AT ALL to deter sandflies. I was applying the product liberally to my legs and ankles and then immediately afterwards sandflies were feasting on my blood. My legs and ankles are now covered in itchy bites.

Carolyn B.
20 Dec 2020
Bug-grr Off is Available in New Zealand

I searched and found it was sold in Christchurch, NZ at Wholefoods Market and Health Store.
it is also available from Aussie Chemist Warehouse, so perhaps if asked the NZ chain they may bring it in.

Alison G.
10 Dec 2020
Bug-grrr-off natural

After searching for weeks I have only just read the comments below and discovered that this product isn't available in NZ. I really think Consumer that if you are using an Australian test (and that's fine) you should at least add a comment to the results and say that some of the products tested may not be available here. Your subscribers shouldn't have to alert one another about this.

Wayne Hargreaves
08 Nov 2020
Repel Ole! Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

I highly recommend this natural product which is made in NZ.

My wife & I travelled to Peru which included a river boat trip on the Amazon.

We used Ole! Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus which I found through my research on the USA FDA site for recommended mosquito products and was really happy to find it is a NZ product and can be purchased via the Repel website or our local Unichem pharmacy.

We did not get bitten at all in the Amazon - except the one time my husband quickly left the cabin for something and hadn't put the product on - which proved its effectiveness.
We also found it lasted as long as it was on the skin and not washed off.

On the Amazon river boat they asked you not to apply Deet products in the cabin due to it 'melting' the mahogany finish on the walls.

It does have a strong scent - but this is not unpleasant and we use it all the time now as we all of our family are magnets for biting insects.

Janet C.
07 Nov 2020
Vitamin B

I first learned about Vit B when my intermediate aged son was going on a school trip to Samoa. He and I are the unlucky magnets for mosquitoes. For two weeks before he left I dosed him up with Vit B morning and night, and packed him off with instructions to take them every day. Of course, being a boy, he took none. When they returned, the other kids were covered in “wall to wall” mosquito bites. Our son had about five, and commented that he didn’t get bitten until the last day. That was proof enough for me. In the twenty or so years since then I keep them in my travel bag. In fact I’m currently on Great Barrier Island, with everyone sleeping under mosquito nets. We haven’t been bothered by them at all, despite seeing them around.

Robert F.
29 Jan 2022
Yes - B1 is what we took for the Milford Track

Years ago I was on the crew that shot a movie on the Milford Track. We were there for a week and a half and were given bottles of B1 to take, starting 10 days before we flew down to the SI. It worked perfectly for me but not for some of the others ... mainly because they didn't follow the directions. The final scenes at Sandfly Point were the final blow for some of the crew and they got eaten alive. Then I was only one of three crew members who also didn't eat red meat and those other two had no problems with mosquitos or sandflies either.

Patricia J.
07 Nov 2020
vitamin B

When I lived on the West Coast taking large doses of Vitamin B2 did definitely repel mosquitos but had no effect on sandflies.

Barb S.
01 Nov 2020
Insect repellent

How does Picardin compare to DEET?

Michele M.
29 Jan 2022
Picaradin works almost as well as DEET based products

The article says that it works almost as well. It's much nicer to use IMO.

Peter K H.
01 Nov 2020
Environmental Concerns

There are some areas in the world where people are specifically asked not to use repellents containing Deet if they are going swimming because it is not good for the environment.

Trudy S.
31 Oct 2020
100% Natural Insect Repellent from The Herb Farm "Zoe's Bugs Away Kawakawa Spray"

This product is EXCELLENT!!! The Herb Farm have "Zoe's Bugs Away Kawakawa Spray". Made in New Zealand, it is 100% natural and available at www.herbfarm.co.nz This is the best insect repellent that I have found yet. It is a spray on and I can highly recommend it

Julie V
31 Oct 2020
"Repel" Tropical Strength is fabulous

I find Repel Tropical Strength (roll on) to be fabulous. It's main ingredient is DEET. I'm a photographer and take a lot of fungi shots in the bush, where mosquitoes are prevalent. I keep it in my camera bag and it's perfect. From the second I put it on my skin, mosquitoes stay away and I'm usually a person they love to bite. I'm usually out there for many hours at a time and the product lasts the distance well. I highly recommend it.

31 Oct 2020
Insect repellant

where do you find this - the tropical strength Bug-grrr-off natural - i have been googling, and can find all the 'other' bug-grrr off products but not that one.... would be helpful to know!

Previous member
31 Oct 2020
Looks like it is only available in Australia

Which means this article must be borrowed from the Australian publication of Consumer Magazine. I wish they could have done the test here and included some of our NZ natural insect repellents so that we could have had a heads up on how effective some of them are.....it would make the test results much more relevant.

Consumer staff
02 Nov 2020

Hi Michele,

Testing was conducted in Australia by an independent laboratory (there are no labs in New Zealand that can do this testing). Some New Zealand natural products were included in the test but it was not possible to test every product available.

Kind regards,
Belinda - Consumer NZ writer

06 Nov 2020
Insect repellant

dont you think as we are members of Consumer NZ that you should have advised us of products we could actually get here? i feel that the products tested - the best ones should be those we can access

Peter I.
31 Oct 2020
New test results Table a HUGE improvement!!

Thank you Consumer for the new test results format as a table/chart. Far, far, far superior to either the side-scrolling results layout or the vertical-scrolling lists that required “Compare” boxes to be ticked. The chart & table are gold. Especially on a smartphone.

Your Highness
31 Oct 2020
Vitamin B

Back in the day I was in Fiordland for a month. I came prepared, with several bottles of vitamin b capsules. I took 6 times the therapeutic recommended dosage. It effectively kept the sand flies at bay, but also people.... I stank of vegemite! Mosquitos weren't around, so I can't say what effect my stinky odour had on them.

Martin N.
31 Oct 2020
Vitamin B1 or thiamine

I do think it works for some people and may actually be on prescription.