Repel Lemon Eucalyptus bug repellentIn the fall of 2009, while browsing the sporting goods section at an Anchorage based Fred Meyer store, REPEL’s Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellent jumped out at me. Having used more than my fair share of DEET in the past, and aware of it’s ill effects, I have long been interested to find an alternative chemical that could combat the swarms of biting bugs one finds in the backcountry.  Also, being fond of eucalyptus in general, I assumed the fragrance would be tolerable, if not almost nice. I purchased the spray, and it remained behind the seat of my truck, ready for use when the moment arose.

I never forgot it, and when gathering supplies for this summer’s extended construction excursion to the cabin, bug spray was one of the first items checked off my packing list. However, I packed the trusty and highly concentrated DEET product as well, just in case a biblical proportioned swarms of bloodthirsty insects rose from the surrounding wetlands and bogs.

Now, having spent a solid week and a half at the cabin during warm and humid days when bug activity peaked, I can honestly say I never once touched the DEET, and I don’t intend too for the remainder of the summer. REPEL’s Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellent worked wonderfully. With this spray I was able to work for hours on end, through the day and evening, shirtless, and have few bites to show for it. This spray is potent, which is good overall, and smells pleasant once the fumes wear off a bit. It applies easily in a fine mist, and seemed to last for a couple of hours each application.

I should keep in mind that the insect problem at the cabin is nominal. I’ve experienced far worse bouts of biting insects in northern Michigan and Maine. I’m fortunate that despite the surrounding wetlands, insects are the least of my concerns. If REPEL would make a bear spray, now that would be even more useful in my case.

Product Label for Repel Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellentThis product does have a couple of drawbacks. The advertised potential to last for 6 hours is a long stretch. I would estimate two to three hours, and I wasn’t sweating nearly as badly as if I were hiking or doing something more rigorous. Also, the mist is so very potent that I found myself holding me breath during applications, then walking quickly to an area where the air had not been tainted as badly. Similar to a menthol product, this repellent irritates your eyes and lungs. Applying by spraying directly on your hands and then rubbing it on would seem to be a better option. This also cuts back on waste spray that blows away unused in the wind.

With the two-hour longevity I found myself applying four times or more each day to exposed areas of my body. I would like to find a larger, more cost effective bottle, but the size of this bottle is great for packing and camping trips, and also features a flip cap to hinder leaks. When spraying, the cap may get in the way of the mist if not pushed down all the way, thus the fluid drips and runs down the bottle. This only happened to me once when I wasn’t paying attention. A good point to make is that supposedly this eucalyptus oil based product will not harm fabrics and materials. DEET on the other hand is a bit caustic.

For it’s effectiveness, fragrance, and healthy alternative to DEET, I do recommend REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus to anyone spending time in the outdoors. I’ve already purchased my second bottle.

EPA chemical/product description