With the threat of Zika and Dengue a real possibility when playing royalty with your cocktail in hand on some luscious, far-flung tropical beach, or around a campfire in the bush, making yourself invisible to blood-sucking creatures is more important than ever.  You don't have to don a hazmat suit or be suited and booted with a camel toe on display to keep the critters away from you, as there are far more pleasant and socially acceptable ways to ensure that you are not on a mosquito's menu.

What You Need to Know

Mosquitoes are attracted by a combination of sight and the smell of the odours emanating naturally from your warm and moist skin. Insect repellents work on the basis of creating a barrier of "yuk" (think taste and smell) between your skin and the marauding blood-hungry flying vampires, whilst masking products create a "ring of confidence" around your entire body.


  • Bare as little skin as possible–in other words wear long sleeves and pants of light fabric if in the tropics.
  • Leave your Chanel or DKNY perfumes at home, as you will smell delectable to bity bugs. Sweet-smelling fragrances also diminish the effectiveness of insect repellents.
  • Get rid of the left over food rubbish once you have partaken of your sunset feast, or cover it properly, especially sugary beverage cans.
  • Get romantic with an insect repellent candle or throw an insect coil under the table or near where you are sitting. Just remember it is there, and don't stand on it.
  • Most importantly, use an insect masking or repellent product when mosquitoes are likely to be around–sunrise and sunset are prime feasting times.
  • Apply any product as directed by the manufacturer to avoid any possible side effects, such as skin or eye irritation.
  • Do not use repellents over wounds, rashes, or cuts.
  • When you wish to apply to your face, put the product on your hands first and then rub it on your face.
  • Double the dose does not mean double the cover.
  • Don't let young children apply it on themselves, as they have a habit of putting their fingers in their mouths or eyes.
  • Don't use any product near food.

Commonly Used Insect Repellents in a Nut Shell

DEET - Use with caution especially if you have sunscreen on, as its effectiveness will be reduced and there is a potential concern for toxicity.  A concentration of 10-35% provides adequate protection from vampire bugs.

Icaridin - Commonly used in insect repellents in Australia and Europe.  Odorless, non-sticky and non-greasy, Icaridin has a low toxicity potential.

All Natural Botanicals - Plant derived and super safe for humans, plus environmentally friendly, unlike DEET.  Think along the lines of citronella, geranium, catnip, cinnamon, peppermint, garlic, verbena, basil and thyme to name a few.

To ward off the nasties that wish to have a suck on your blood, making you itchy or giving you the appearance of having an involuntary affliction, as you constantly slap yourself, read on about some of the best on the market:

1.  Para'kito is the all-natural alternative to spraying yourself with horrible chemicals.  Coming in the form of funky wristbands and clips with round the clock up to 15-day protection per refillable pellet, think of it as an impenetrable Star Trek shield that mosquitoes won't bomb dive through. The masking effect will give you a 1-meter radius of a bug-free zone protecting your whole body from any invading critters. Totally safe for the whole family, including babies and pregnant women, there is no direct contact with the skin; hence there is no irritation or reactions.  Waterproof and with no need to keep reapplying a lotion, it does work and won't make you gag on the smell of it, as it has a pleasant aroma. Para'kito website

2.  "Smart Armor" by Intelligent Nutrients comes in a serum and spray in travel size bottles.  An organic bug repellent that is kid-safe, pet-safe and planet-safe, it is an essential oil-packed perfume serum and rosemary-geranium deodorizing spray with no harsh chemicals. Smart Armor website

3.  Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Towelettes by Avon are spill-proof hypoallergenic towelettes, but they are verging on odourless and won't make you feel like a grease-ball.  They are easy to wipe on and control how much pest-repellent is applied. Bug Guard Plus website

4.  Bushman Products have a wide range of mosquito-deterrent products that were originally developed in 1990 by an industrial chemist with over 35 years in concocting personal insect repellents.   Effective, long lasting, water and sweat resistant, it is perfect for the tropical outdoors to keep bloodsuckers at bay.  One application will give you up to 15 hours protection. Bushman website

5.  "Species by the Thousands" citronella candle is the perfect size to throw into your luggage.  A clean burning soy candle of citronella and lemongrass essential oils, it weighs a mere 7.4 ounces with a cotton wick in an 8-oz travel tin. This handmade candle is for the romantic souls, as it will burn for 45 hours (indoors or outside).  The packaging is cute enough to be the perfect gift for any traveller. Specieis by the Thousands website

If you need a few more tips why not also read Zika Virus: Tips to Minimise Your Risk and Malaria Pills, Yes or No?

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.