Disclaimer: The folks at EarthKind sent us free products to test drive in exchange for this review. That said, the results and opinions expressed in this article are 100% real and based on several experiences we have had with the products discussed.
I adore animals, always have, always will. As a horse owner, dog owner, avid bird watcher, and general outdoor-loving person who lives in rural NC, I’m always battling various biting pests, from fire ants and horseflies to mosquitoes and ticks. So, when we were invited to give EarthKind’s pet friendly pest control products a try, we were really interested in testing out their Stay Away Mosquitoes spray. Why? Because mosquitoes and ticks are, by far, the most annoying pests I encounter. In fact, I hate ticks.
While I typically use Deep Woods Off when I know I’ll be exposing myself to those nasty summer pests, I was happy to try an alternative. I’ll also note that the two bug sprays I typically use have deet as the active ingredient. Overall, I’ve never had an issue using a deet-based spray personally (no rashes or other skin irritations, etc.) and my fear of any deet related issues has dissipated over time (see this Consumer Reports article and this BMC Journal article). Still, the EPA DEET fact sheet notes that, “The available data characterize DEET as slightly toxic to birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates and as practically nontoxic to mammals.”
It never hurts to try something new and it’s great when you have something that works to help gauge whether the “something new” actually works as well or not. So, for this point, I’m comparing EarthKind’s Stay Away Mosquitoes (active ingredient picaridin) with Deep Woods Off (active ingredient deet).
Note: I use bug spray as recommended, I don’t bathe in it. I followed the directions for applying Stay Away, too, which was usual and easy: Shake well and then thoroughly spray my skin avoiding contact with my eyes and mouth. I sprayed my hands to apply a light coat to my face, neck, ears, and my hair. Yep, my hair! Did I mention how much I hate ticks?! Those buggers love seem to love hair and I don’t love wearing hats. You can peel away the outside label to get a few more details along with instructions for what to do in case you screw up, which seem to be pretty much in line with every other bug spray on the market.
The full-size pump spray bottles are just like any other but that little travel size spray is super cool – it fits in a front or back pocket so it’s easy to take some with you on the go.
Since we’ve now had several opportunities to put it to the test, in various circumstances and conditions, here’s what we’ve learned from our extensive experiences using Stay Away® Mosquitoes by EarthKind . . .
It works. Honestly, I was a little shocked.
I really didn’t expect it to work as well as my usual, go-to spray for keeping mosquitoes and ticks at bay. But it did. In all of the instances and conditions we tested. From mowing and weeding to other chores and leisure activities, no pesky skeeter bites. Grooming horses went really well, too. I wasn’t pestered by mosquitoes or gnats (or those pesky deer flies or horse flies either, now that I think back to that afternoon).
We also tested outside in the shade on a hot and humid day (after rain the day before) and while I did suffer a single bite on my wrist (aren’t those the worst?), it was about 4 hours in and I’d wiped my hands and face with a wet rag and didn’t re-apply my spray. Did I mention it was hot? But that was ONE bite. I can’t imagine what it would have been like without any bug spray at all.
So do mosquitoes really stay away? Yes, they do. Or at least they did for me, for a good 4+ hours each and every time I tested it. While I did get some sort of bug bite on my ankle during one of the tests, I can attest that I didn’t spend an evening scratching bug bites. Nor did I find any ticks (thank goodness). If you’re familiar with using a pump spray to spray yourself, you know it’s not easy to get your legs and ankles very well by yourself.
And, every single person who tested got the same results (so it’s not just me, though I was worried because I tend to be adored by blood sucking skeeters).
It felt good. Really good.
This is a strange thing to say, but it was the first thing I noticed. My usual bug sprays feel pretty greasy or oily as I’m prepping and rubbing it in. I’ve tried the “dry” versions, which are better, but they still feel like bug spray.
Surprise! There’s no real feel to this stuff. First I wondered if I hadn’t sprayed enough spray, then I re-read the back of the bottle to see if it noted rubbing it in at all. I think this is one of the reasons I felt like it wouldn’t work. I didn’t feel like I had anything on. Stay Away felt better than any other mosquito spray I’ve ever used. No lie.
It doesn’t smell. At all.
Also kind of funny, and contributing to my “naked” feeling, it doesn’t smell bad. It also doesn’t smell good. There is literally no smell at all. Pretty much any bug spray I’ve ever used has a smell, some worse than others, but they all have an odor.
I sometimes use a pretty stout smelling fly spray on horses because it works really, really well. It is a distinctive smell, so much so that I have to “sneak” it onto one of my horses because she’s not a fan. The way I saw it, at least my own bug spray had a more pleasant odor than theirs . . . almost a citrusy kind of scent . . . but testing this new bug spray with absolutely no scent was pretty amazing.
What’s the Active Ingredient?
Picaridin. Picaridin, a compound bioidentical to those found in long black pepper plants (1-Methylpropyl-2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1piperidine carboxylate), works to repel mosquitoes, ticks, gnats and other pests by producing a smell that’s offensive to insects but odorless to people.
We tested lots of times in several instances and I can honestly say the active ingredient, picaridin, is my new favorite for keeping biting insects at bay. It was just as effective and is way less offensive than what I usually use. I can also say it worked for everyone who tested it.
I did a little digging and found that deet can damage plastics or other or other synthetic materials, which I’ve never noticed but definitely don’t like, while picaridin does not. I also found an NPR article that quotes Dr. Dan Strickman (a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and author of Prevention of Bug Bites, Stings, and Disease) saying,
“Picaridin is a little more effective than DEET and seems to keep mosquitoes at a greater distance,” he says. When people use DEET, mosquitoes may land on them but not bite. When they use a product containing picaridin, mosquitoes are less likely to even land.NPR: A Guide To Mosquito Repellents, From DEET To … Gin And Tonic?
I also really like new continuous “dry” sprays since they feel better overall and seem easier to apply (legs and ankles in particular), but I liked Stay Away so much so that I’ll be looking for it and for other products with Picaridin as the active ingredient moving forward.
Cost is always a consideration, right?! While I adore Earthkind’s Stay Away Mosquitoes, I don’t love that it’s quite a bit more expensive than the spray I typically use based on current Amazon prices:
|Product||Active Ingredient||Current Amazon Price||Price Per Ounce|
|Stay Away Mosquitoes|
EPA Reg # 88957-1-82016
|Picaridin (20%)||4 OZ Pump Spray Bottle (Pack of 2) for $22.00||$2.75/ounce|
|Deep Woods OFF!®|
EPA Reg # 4822-167
|DEET (25%)||9 OZ Pump Spray Bottle (Pack of 6) for $47.40||$0.88/ounce|
It’s also worth noting that their website price was less expensive than their Amazon store price when we checked today ($15.72 for the 2-pack, so about $1.97 per ounce) so be sure to look and compare if you’re buying. You can also subscribe to their newsletter for new product releases, DIY tips, and exclusive promotions or look for EarthKind products at Target as well as at Tractor Supply and Lowe’s (3 of our favorite stores).
A Bit About EarthKind . .
EarthKind is based here in North Carolina and they use ingredients grown on USA regenerative farms. Their naturally effective, plant-based solutions provide freedom from pests while protecting nature’s delicate ecosystems. In other words, they work to help keep pests away from treated areas without killing or poisoning them which, in turn, is great for pet owners.
While the fact that their products are pet-friendly doesn’t really pertain when it comes to what bug spray we use on our bodies – the bug spray isn’t meant for our pets! – their other pest prevention products most definitely pertain to protecting pets.
If you’ve ever lost a pet that has been accidentally poisoned by rodenticides or insecticides that are commonly used in households and farms, you know just how devastating that can be. You certainly don’t mean to introduce harm when you’re trying to get rid of those mice in the barn’s tack room, but all it takes is a curious cat who lingers and traps a poisoned mouse to know why the Pet Poison Helpline reports that rodenticides always rank in the top 5 cases managed by the helpline annually.