Which bug sprays to bring leaf peeping are best? 

It’s that time of year again when the hot days of summer give way to the beautiful crisp air and bright colors of fall. However, the change of season doesn’t necessarily mean that all of those annoying summer pests have disappeared. 

If you’re heading out on a leaf peeping trip this autumn, you might not want to leave your bug spray at home. While the cooler weather does sometimes bring relief to the swarms of mosquitoes and biting flies, it is always a smart idea to carry some bug spray when spending time outdoors or in the woods for extended periods. Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent is safe for kids and adults and provides long-lasting protection. 

What to know before you buy a bug spray for leaf peeping

What type of bugs will you be dealing with?

First, you’ll want to have a basic idea of the type of insects you’ll be dealing with. Certain insect repellents may only prevent bites by specific insects, so look carefully to see the recommended usage. 

The most common pests you’ll encounter include mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, flies and chiggers. Mosquitoes and ticks are what people worry about the most, as they can spread harmful diseases such as West Nile virus, Zika virus, Lyme disease and others. If you know you’ll be in an area known for having high volumes of ticks and mosquitoes, you may want to opt for a more powerful repellent. 

Leaf peeping location 

The location of your leaf peeping journey will also play a part in the type of bug spray you choose. If you plan on staying mostly on the road or simply walking around a local town, you can probably get by with a milder spray. However, for those who want to venture into the woods to see the vibrant fall colors, a stronger bug spray is best. 

Geographic location also plays a role. When leaf peeping further south, there’s a higher chance that insects like mosquitoes and ticks have not yet retreated for the season, making annoying encounters more likely. 


Though the term “bug spray” is often used as an umbrella term when talking about insect repellents, there are actually several different insect repellent formulas, from classic pump sprays and aerosols to liquids, lotions, wipes and even rub-on sticks. Depending on your preference, you can choose a formula that works best for your skin. 

What to look for in a quality bug spray 


The best bug sprays will clearly state their ingredients so you know exactly what you’ll be applying to your body. The two most common ingredients include DEET and Picaridin. DEET is often considered to be the most effective option, but sprays with high DEET concentrations are for adult use only and should be kept away from children. 

Picaridin is another effective ingredient that can act as an alternative for people wanting to stay away from DEET repellents. The best natural bug sprays will contain ingredients such as lemongrass and lemon eucalyptus oil. 


Depending on the ingredients, every type of insect repellent will provide a slightly different period of protection. If you are going to be outdoors for an extended period, look for a bug spray that remains effective for multiple hours. 


Many bug sprays will have somewhat of a chemical scent. However, if you want a more pleasant aroma, look for fresh-scented options or natural repellents that will smell more like essential oils. 

Skin sensitivity 

Everyone’s skin reacts differently to specific bug spray formulas. Some sprays may leave a sticky or greasy residue on your skin, while others are designed to feel lighter and barely noticeable after application. If you notice any type of rash or reaction, stop using the repellent and consider trying an alternative option. 

How much you can expect to spend on bug spray 

A majority of bug sprays can be purchased for $8-$20 dollars, though some options cost slightly more or less. 

Bug spray FAQ

Can I fly with bug spray?

A. As long as the bug spray is in a container that meets the airline’s capacity regulations, there should be no issue packing a bottle or tube of bug spray in your carry-on luggage. 

Does bug spray expire? 

A. Bug spray doesn’t expire in the conventional sense, as it is not likely to go bad or produce any dangerous side effects when used. It can, however, begin to lose its effectiveness over time. If you have a bottle of bug spray over three years old, you may want to consider replacing it to receive maximum protection. 

What are the best bug sprays to buy for leaf peeping? 

Top bug spray 

Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent Pump Spray

Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent Pump Spray

What you need to know: This repellent is designed to fend off mosquitoes using a non-greasy formula. 

What you’ll love: Containing a low concentration of DEET, this is a great bug spray for kids and adults. Since you likely won’t be dealing with peak bug season, this milder repellent is great for a fall trip, and it even sports a fresh scent. 

What you should consider: It may not be the longest-lasting bug spray available. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top bug spray for the money

Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion

Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion

What you need to know: This powerful insect repellent lotion is ideal for those who prefer an alternative to sprays. 

What you’ll love: The 12 hours of protection will be more than enough to get you through a full day of outdoor leaf peeping. The small size makes it a great carry-on option, and the DEET formula offers defense against a wide variety of insects. 

What you should consider: Some users have reported a sticky residue after application. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Natrapel Insect Repellent Spray

Natrapel Insect Repellent Spray

What you need to know: This DEET-free bug spray provides long-lasting protection and won’t damage clothing or gear. 

What you’ll love: The convenient locking spray bottle makes it easy to apply to all exposed areas of your body, while the picaridin is useful at repelling mosquitoes and ticks. This is another safe bug spray for kids. 

What you should consider: This bug spray may not be ideal for heavily infested areas. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Backcountry


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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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