An Anti-Bug Buyer's Guide: Bug Spray & Insect Repellent Advice

Bug spray is central to every anti-bug strategy. Whether you are at home, enjoying outdoor activities, or on exotic safari adventures, you need effective insect repellent. No matter where you are, nothing ruins your buzz more than bugs. At the same time, with so many repellents on the market, picking the best insect repellent for your needs – and the specific insects you are looking to repel – can be tricky. Getting it wrong can be painful, uncomfortable, or even result in disease. After trying out different bug spray varieties in some insect-ridden settings, we’ve compiled this guide to keep you comfortable and protected at home and on all life’s adventures with the help of proven insect repellent.

Bug Spray, Insect Repellent, and Your Anti-Bug Strategy

Reliable insect repellent is a safari essential. At The Safari Store, we have carefully selected the best bug sprays and tried them ourselves over years in Africa and on all our outdoor adventures to ensure they perform. As a result, we have supplied insect repellent, anti-bug clothing, and accessories to outdoor adventurers and safari-goers for more than ten years.

Australian-made, DEET-based repellents are always our first choice for anti-bug protection. Bushman Insect Repellent and RID Tropical Strength are two leading premium Australian insect repellent sprays – developed, tested, and trusted in a country where insect protection is a daily concern. Of course, efficacy is important when travelling to malaria areas as part of a prophylactic plan, but it is equally important for any outdoorsman and woman to avoid tick- and insect-borne disease at home and for travel too.

In this guide, we discuss the features that are important in any bug spray you intend to use daily, outdoors, or for safari and travel. We also give you an overview of the different applications, take a look at some frequently asked questions and bug spray reviews, and give advice on ways to bolster your anti-bug strategy to avoid bites for uninterrupted activities and adventures.

Want to know more about the brands? Read more about the Bushman story and benefits. Read more about the RID story.

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What features to look for in bug spray

  • Proven efficacy: There are two kinds of insect repellents: those that work and those that don't. DEET-based insect repellent is both safe and reliable. We recommend bug spray with a maximum of 40% DEET content. While stronger concentrations exist, this affects longevity rather than effectiveness and would suggest more frequent application of DEET 40 sprays. Find out everything you need to know about DEET in our comprehensive DEET guide.
  • Long-lasting: The best insect repellent formulae allow for slow release of actives for lasting efficacy and enhanced overall performance. Our bug sprays offer long-lasting protection - and are sweat, rub, and water resistant - perfect for active outdoor activities and warm-weather climates. Bushman repels insects for up to eight hours, with time-release technology and excellent wearer characteristics. RID is effective for at least six hours (tests have shown closer to seven or eight).
  • Wearer characteristics: The purpose of insect repellent is to stay bite-free and happy - so the spray itself shouldn't be a source of discomfort and insects shouldn't be able to smell your fear. Look for insect repellent that's light on the skin and with a neutral odour. While this is important every day, it is especially useful in warm weather and for outdoor hobbies.
  • Repels a broad range of insects: Look for an insect repellent that is effective against the usual suspects like mosquitoes, ticks, and flies - or the specific insect that is worrying you. That doesn't mean you should forget about some other varieties, however. Insects rarely occur in isolation, so pick a bug repellent that works against a range of insects to prevent insect bites and annoyance.
  • Made in Aussie: Australia has perfect conditions for insects. As a result, they are a nation who has had to strategise around insects as a daily reality. This means that their home-grown bug sprays are some of the best - created out of a need for insect protection and developed and tested in some of the harshest conditions in the world. Read more about why Australia makes some of the best insect repellent.
  • Tested to work: The Safari Store's expedition tested™ philosophy extends to our insect repellents. Our full range of insect repellent products have been extensively worn in some insect-intensive places and have earned our trust as the best. Additionally, Bushman sells around 1.3 million bottles in Australia each year, which means it is a household favourite for this insect-aware nation.

  • Shop Bug Spray With These Features >

    Summary of the best insect repellent key features:

    Choose safe and effective DEET insect repellent from The Safari Store

    Your bug spray should offer 40% maximum DEET content

    Top features of bug spray include sweat, rub, and waterproof properties

    Choose insect repellent that's waterproof, sweat and rub resistant, with slow-release actives for long-lasting wear

    Australian-made insect repellents from The Safari Store

    Shaped by experience: choose Australian insect repellent

    Bug spray with good wearer characteristics and a neutral odour from The Safari Store

    Look for wearer-friendly characteristics and neutral odour.

    Anti-Bug Applications: Where to Wear Your Bug Spray

  • Safari: Proven insect repellent is a top safari essential. The main reason for this is to prevent insect-borne diseases like malaria and tick bite fever and, while it is a good idea to take medical precautions when travelling to Africa, making every effort to avoid being bitten in the first place is a smart approach. Apart from disease, insect bites can also be itchy or painful and the presence of insects can be a nuisance. Packing a reliable bug spray will help to preserve the perfection of your safari experiences.
  • Travel: It is wise to have an anti-bug strategy no matter where your travels take you. Obviously, if you are a keen adventure traveller and enjoy treks through rainforest, you're going to need a strong insect repellent. However, don't discount the presence of annoying (and, in some places, disease-carrying) insects everywhere from beaches and coastal towns to countryside walks. In travel-friendly sizes, our bug spray range is the easy way for every globe-trotter to pack and go prepared.
  • Outdoor sports and hobbies: For outdoor-lovers, the pursuit of bug-free strategies is enduring. Out on the trail, on fishing trips, for hikes and dogwalking, and for every outdoor sport and hobby, outdoorsmen and women face increased exposure to - and so risk from - insects. Our insect protection range comes in daypack-friendly bottle sizes with the features above for peace of mind and comfortable wearing.
  • The best insect repellent for home: The best personal care insect repellent should be suitable for daily wear. For the enthusiastic gardener and picnicker, or for bug-free time on your patio, keep a bottle of effective insect repellent handy at home.
  • Farming and outdoor work: When time outdoors is an essential part of your workday, your anti-bug strategy becomes a matter of daily importance. Mitigate the risk of bites and disease and don't let bugs get in the way of your productivity. Invest in the best insect protection for farmers and outdoor workers as a work tool.
  • Insect-specific concerns: Maybe you're worried about mosquitoes - or that ticks will make you sick. It could be flies in your stables or while you enjoy your garden that concerns you most. Perhaps midges in Scotland or sand fleas on beaches have made you anxious about your next trip. From mosquitoes, ticks, and leeches to sand fleas and no-see-ums, shop for bug spray that repels the insects that bother you most.

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    Bug spray and insect repellent questions & answers

    We provide answers to questions we are frequently asked about bug spray

    What is the most effective bug spray?

    In our experience, insect repellent with a DEET content of 40% or below is both safe and effective to repel not only mosquitoes, but a range of flying and biting insects. Used for over 60 years and with over 200 million applications of DEET-based products every year, it is trusted by consumers and approved by international health regulators for use as a personal care bug repellent.

    When should I use insect repellent?

    No matter where you are or what you are doing, insects have the potential to ruin an experience. An effective insect repellent is essential for safari and travel, outdoor work and leisure, as well as at home in your garden or on your patio. Keeping a few bottles handy around the house is a good idea and packing for a weekend away to the countryside, beach holidays, or overseas trips is best practice to ensure everyday insect protection.

    Bug spray and pregnancy: is it safe to use insect repellent when you're pregnant?

    Many insect repellents are safe for use during pregnancy. DEET-based products with a 50% DEET formula are considered safe for use during pregnancy. However, it is always the safest option to consult your healthcare practitioner for advice before using any personal care insect repellent product.

    Apart from insect repellent, what else should I include in my anti-bug arsenal?

    Pair the following anti-bug items with your insect repellent to bolster your insect protection strategy for hikes, walks, outdoor activities, safari, and travel: anti-insect clothing; protect vulnerable ankles with boots, socks, and ankle gaiters; and don't let bites get you down by keeping bite and sting relief on hand just in case a bug breaks through your defences.

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    Bug Spray And Beyond: Other Ways to Achieve Anti-Bug Protection

    Invest in bug repellent clothing. Our BUGTech clothing range is unique in that it combines anti-insect properties with moisture wicking - a combination of properties rarely achieved by outdoor clothing companies. Designed and developed for Africa and the outdoors, our BUGTech clothing has been sampled, expedition tested, and refined to meet our standards for safari and every outdoor activity. It also has built-in sun protection and anti-bacterial properties, is quick to dry, and has a range of design features to keep you comfortable and protected so you can get maximum enjoyment out of every adventure.

    Cover up. Especially in tall grass and thick undergrowth, your ankles and exposed skin are the most vulnerable to insect bites - and this can intensify in the late afternoons and evenings. Choose long-sleeved shirts with roll-up sleeve tabs and zip-off, convertible trousers for flexibility - allowing you to dress to meet the demands of the day. Choose closed shoes or ankle boots (like the Buffalo Boots in a Chelsea boot design) for extra cover from the ground up.

    Use anti-bug outdoor gear accessories. Accessorise with bugs in mind. A pair of ankle gaiters are a great outdoor accessory, offering extra protection to the ankles and keeping them tick, insect, and blackjack free.

    Get relief from bites. If you miss a spot when applying insect repellent or when a tenacious bug breaks through your defences, take the burn out of bites and stings by applying effective bite relief. Our bite and sting relief comes in a convenient travel-sized bottle and has soothing witch hazel extract for spray-on relief out in the field and back home.

    Beat bacteria as well as bugs. Hand sanitiser is part of the new normal, but is a good way to prevent getting seasonal bugs and diseases. Keep an anti-bacterial hand sanitiser in your bag or day pack to keep hands clean and bug-free everywhere you go.

    Create bug-free spaces. Using portable insect killer units means you don't have to share your space with bugs. While many electric varieties exist, a battery-operated mosquito killer unit is suitable for use at home, on even the remotest safari and travel adventures, and for camping and overnight outdoor excursions.

    No bugs at bedtime. Make your bed a bug-free zone by using a mosquito net. This ensures undisturbed sleep and reduces your chances of being bitten at night.

    Find out more about The Safari Store >

    The best insect repellent based on client reviews:

    We value all our client reviews highly and use them to guide us in stocking only the best clothing, bags, and accessories. They are also a great way for you to see what other clients have thought after using our bug spray range for themselves. Here is a selection of reviews we have received about RID and Bushman.

    Bushman bug spray customer reviews

    Bushman Insect Repellent Spray

    Review by Claire Fraser: "I have used Bushman around Southern Africa - during the rainy and dry season - and it has never let me down. I'm a bit of a mosquito magnet too, so it has saved me retreating to my tent on countless occasions."

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    RID insect repellent customer review

    RID Insect Repellent

    Review by Victoria Offord: "Amazing! Took RID with me on my trip to Montevideo and it worked like a charm! I'm normally mosquito kibble, but not a single bite. Even watched one appear, go "urgh!" and fly off in another direction. Smell isn't over-powering and I won't travel without RID in future."

    View all reviews for this bug spray

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    Insect Repellent Shopping Guide:

    Find your new go-to insect repellent from our hand-picked selection of favourites.

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    Anti-Bug Clothing

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    Anti-Bug Extras

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