DEET Is Not Always The Best Midge Repellent – Here’s Why - Less Mosquito

DEET Is Not Always The Best Midge Repellent – Here’s Why

Feb 14, 2020cara bousfield

If you’re travelling to an unfamiliar location or live somewhere that is particularly swarmed by midges, having a bottle of insect repellent to hand will help you to go about your day without worrying about bites.

Many products that declare to offer the best midge repellent will contain DEET – a chemical, originally developed by the US Army in 1946 to ward off mosquitoes. Also effective against a range of other insects, DEET does not kill, instead, it interferes with the neurons and receptors of insects to prevent them from detecting the chemicals we produce (such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide). Whilst they may still land on our exposed skin, the confusion caused sees them unable to find anything to feed on, so they do not bite.

However, recent studies have suggested that DEET may not be the best insect repellent for everyone to use. Here, we’re going to see why.

Why DEET Isn’t Necessarily The Best Midge Repellent

In research compiled by The New England Journal of Medicine, most serious complications caused by DEET are due to long-term, heavy, frequent or whole-body applications. When applied with common sense (and only on exposed skin) for short periods, they believe there is no danger. In some cases though, DEET has been observed to cause reactions and conditions, including the following:

  • Allergic reactions. For some people, when DEET is applied to the skin (especially for an extended period), it can cause adverse reactions, like redness, a rash, hives and swelling.
  • Possible carcinogenic properties. There has been some evidence (though mixed) that DEET contains carcinogenic properties when applied to the skin, or inhaled[i]. Carcinogenics is defined as a ‘substance that leads to carcinogenesis’ – the formation of cancer cells.

  • Toxic for pets. The ASPCA (the American RSPCA) has reported that exposing pets to DEET-containing products causes ‘significant clinical side effects’[ii]. If DEET finds its way into a pet’s eyes, it can cause eye injury/disease, such as conjunctivitis, scleritis and corneal ulceration.
  • Negative environmental effect. The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States has said that DEET may be slightly toxic to birds, fish and aquatic invertebrates. When testing DEET on fish and insects from freshwater environments, they found its toxicity to be at an extremely high level[iii]. DEET has also been found in wastewater, which will naturally lead it to back to the ground, affecting soil. Also, when sprayed, DEET remains in the air as a mist or vapour and therefore, must be broken down by the atmosphere[iv].

What Repellent To Use Instead?

A great alternative to any synthetic repellent (such as DEET), are ones made from natural ingredients. One particular natural chemical to look out for is PMD – which in 2006, was studied to have the same repellent effect as DEET[v] and has since been recognised by the World Health Organisation.

As believers in the power of nature, the team here at incognito® have formulated several different products that provide protection against insects. Clinically tested, our award-winning, PMD-containing Insect Repellent Spray and roll-on offer protection against mosquitoes, midges, ticks and many other insectshat may be found in mild, damp or tropical climates.

With Mother’s Day coming up, why not take a look around our website to see if you can find the best insect repellent for any travelling Mum? Aside from our Insect Repellent Spray and assorted gift sets, we have several Insect Repellent & Suncream products (rated up to SPF30) – so if you or your Mum is going on holiday soon, they act as the ideal dual-protection against the sun and bothersome insects. Why apply two lots of creams when one will do?  This is the ideal necessity gift that will help your Mum avoid being bitten and shows real thought and consideration.

For those who like to stay indoors during particularly hot and humid weather, check out our Incense Sticks and Room Refresher. Offering day-and-night protection, the smoke from the slow-burning Incense Sticks will ward off any infiltrators, whereas the Room Refresher will emit a fragrance that repels them, whilst leaving your room smelling like a pine forest.


All of our products are non-GM and vegan-friendly – never tested on animals. So, if you need the best midge repellent as protection for those long summer days, why not take the time to browse our ranges and learn more about each insect repellent product that we have on sale?

Need To Learn More About Our Insect Repellent Products?

If you need any further information about anything you may see on our website, our dedicated team are on hand to assist. Give them a call on 020 7792 8687 or send an e-mail to and they’ll be in touch as soon as possible. 


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