When Swatters Won’t Cut It: The 5 Best Bug Deterrents

During the summer, bug deterrents are absolutely essential. Mosquitoes, gnats, flies, and all manner of pests can ruin your fun. But it’s not just about pests being pesky – insects, especially mosquitoes, can carry a whole host of diseases you don’t want anything to do with. Check out all the different ways you can keep them at bay.


Sprays are incredibly popular during the summer because they’re convenient and portable. Various sprays contain a variety of primary active ingredients and can be different strengths. One of the most common sprays is DEET, which protects people from mosquitos, flies, and ticks. Over the last 20 years, DEET has proven to be safe for humans. Still, those with sensitive skin may have a reaction to some sprays, so it’s important to test a small patch of skin before spraying it all over. If possible, purchase a sensitive skin bug repellent spray from a reputable brand to decrease the risk of interaction. You can get bug spray from Amazon inexpensively, usually around $8-10, though it can be more economical to grab a larger bottle.


Citronella is a known mosquito and bug deterrent. For those who plan to stay in one area, a citronella candle is perfect for small gatherings outside. It’s even good for deterring pests inside your home. The biggest issue with citronella candles is that many lack actual citronella oils and instead feature citronella scents. The scent does not deter bugs, so it’s important to actively search for candles that contain citronella oil for the best protection. While you can make a citronella oil candle yourself, you can also purchase pre-made candles for around $10.


Diffusers work by spreading essential oils (like citronella oil) without the need to set something on fire. They come in several different forms, but the most common are home plug-ins or clip-on fans for outdoor use. The plug-in home diffusers work great for enclosed spaces and smaller rooms. They’re much like the Glade or Febreze scent diffusers many homes already use. Plug them into an outlet and they start spreading insect repellent. If you want a diffuser for outdoor use, try clip-on fan units. These run on batteries, and can either sit next to you or attach to a fan so that the oils get carried even further. You can usually get the plug-in for under $25, and the fan units for about $7.

Bug Zappers

Bug zappers are an excellent choice for outside use because it not only deters bugs but kills the ones that get too close. They work by attracting bugs to their UV light, drawing them away from people, and then killing them once they get too close. Bug zappers can either hang from a pole or sit on a table. You can check out our list of the best bug zappers around at this link.


For those that are looking for a serious bug deterrent, you can purchase clothing that’s treated with permethrin. It’s an insecticide that kills mosquitos, fleas, ticks, and ants. This chemical is safe for children and adults, and pressed into the fiber of the fabric. You can wash and wear these garments multiple times before the bug-repellent properties fade. Each garment carries a different price, but most pieces are between $23 and $70.