Victoria’s Secret “Bombshell” brand perfume may be designed to attract men, but surprising new research has found it repels mosquitoes as effectively as commercially manufactured bug repellents.
New Mexico State University scientists who tested 10 commercially available products for their effectiveness at repelling mosquitoes, found — as expected — that products containing DEET were effective in keeping the bugs away. But they also found the some do not work as well as manufacturers claim and that the lingerie maker’s perfume — as well as Avon’s Skin So Soft Bath Oil — also kept mosquitoes at bay.
The results on those non-repellant products, published in the Journal of Insect Science, came as a surprise to researchers, who expected they would actually attract the bugs.
"Our results challenge the notion that floral perfume-scented sprays, in general, attract mosquitoes," the authors wrote. "Floral fragrances may provide a masking odor resulting in low mosquito attraction rates, but over a shorter duration of time."
They added: "The results of this study show that not all commercially available mosquito repellents are effective in repelling mosquitoes and that efficacy is also dependent on the species of mosquito that is repelled."
For the study, researchers tested three products containing DEET (Repel 100 Insect Repellent, OFF Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII, and Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent) and four natural products without it (Cutter Natural Insect Repellent, EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent, Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, and Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard).
In addition, they tested Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil, Victoria's Secret Bombshell perfume, and Mosquito Skin Patch — a skin patch with vitamin B1 as the active ingredient.
The products were tested against two mosquito species, the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), both of which can spread dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever, and other diseases.
The researchers found that mosquitoes were strongly repelled by all products containing DEET. But for the other products, effectiveness was mixed.
On Aedes aegypti, the mosquito repellents that did not contain DEET either didn't repel them at all or didn't have a repellent effect after just 30 minutes (with the exception of Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent). But the bath oil and perfume effectively repelled mosquitoes for 120 minutes.
On Aedes albopictus, two of the non-DEET repellents significantly repelled mosquitoes, as did Avon® Skin So Soft Bug Guard. While the bath oil and skin patch had no repellent effects, the perfume repelled mosquitoes for 120 minutes.
However, the authors do provide a caveat to this finding, noting that "the concentration of perfume we used in this test was rather high and that lower concentrations of the same fragrance might have different effects."
"Overall, the results from this study confirm that DEET repellents are the most effective mosquito repellents in the market,” the authors wrote.. “Although, based on the results from this study, a lemon-eucalyptus oil containing p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) [the active ingredient in Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent] has similar efficacy to DEET repellents."
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