Consumer Reports: Rating the best insect repellents

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David Novarro has more

Ira Maurer found that the beauty of fall comes with some hidden dangers.

"I had taken the kids out and shown them how we used to rake leaves into a pile and jump in them when I was a kid. And a few weeks later, I had symptoms," said Maurer.

Ira thought he had the flu, but he had been bitten by a tick and infected with Lyme disease. And like many people, he never developed the telltale rash.

"Most people know that a large, expanding rash can be a sign of Lyme disease, but symptoms can also include fever, chills, body aches, muscle pain, very much like the flu," said Consumer Reports Senior Health Editor Sue Byrne.

The best way to prevent getting infected is to avoid tick bites. Consumer Reports tests the effectiveness of insect repellents.

Products top-rated at repelling ticks, as well as mosquitoes, contain either picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which are chemically synthesized.

"They are effective, but they can irritate your eyes or your skin. So if you're looking for just protection from ticks, we found several 'all-natural' products to recommend," said Byrne.

The best were Cutter Natural, Burt's Bees Herbal, Babyganic Natural, All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor, and California Baby Natural Bug Blend.

They contain ingredients such as citronella, lemongrass, rosemary oil, and geraniol.

"Be aware that the natural repellents we tested weren't great at protecting against mosquitoes, but that's less of an issue in the fall. Unlike ticks, mosquitoes don't bite once the weather turns chilly," said Byrne.

There is one good thing about ticks in the fall. They are bigger, and that makes them easier to detect on your skin.

If you do find a tick, the best way to get rid of it is to use tweezers to remove it.


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