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Buzz Off

Two non-toxic bug repellents that really work

Buzz off, get it? Photo by Mary Reed.

DEET is nasty, toxic – and effective. Problem is, non-toxic alternatives tend to do little more than give mosquitoes a nice hit of aromatherapy before they pierce into your skin. Not any more.

eco.kid’s Bug-a-Bug insect repellent is more than 99 percent plant based and certified organic. It smells citronella-y but also uses oil derived from andiroba tree nuts, harvested in the Amazon. It comes in a recyclable plastic spray bottle, is manufactured with green energy and is of course biodegradable since it’s plant oil.

The La Fresh All Natural Biodegradable Insect Repellent Towelette contains primarily peppermint oil to repel mosquitoes. As the name suggests, it’s a towelette, and (we think) it smells better than citronella. It’s definitely a convenience product – three wipes in a plastic bag – so it’s not nearly as green per application as the spray bottle.

But the real question is, do they work? The GO! team went to a nasty spot, full of stagnant water and mosquitoes. We applied, separately, the La Fresh wipes and the spray. We came to this conclusion: either those mosquitoes were really dumb, all male or … drumroll please … these non-toxic insect repellents really work. No one got a single mosquito bite.

Cost: Bug-a-Bug is $16.50 for 6.8 ounces; La Fresh towlettes come in packets, six for $4.49 and 48 for $24.99

Buy it at: Your local gear shop (ask them to carry it) or online at (Bug-a-Bug) or