VANCOUVER -- However you spend your time outdoors – camping, hiking, or even just hanging out in the backyard – you have to protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes if you want to have a good time.

Nothing ruins an evening outdoors faster than a swarm of mosquitoes, and bug-borne diseases are on the rise. And it’s not just the ones you may have heard of, like West Nile virus, Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

New ones are sprouting up, Consumer Reports’ Catherine Roberts says.

“According to the CDC, at least nine mosquito and tick-borne diseases have been reported for the first time in the U.S. since 2004,” she says. “So it’s really important to protect yourself against these diseases.”

Insect repellent can be a good form of protection. At the Consumer Reports labs, testers apply a standard dose of repellent to test subjects’ skin to see how well it works. Thirty minutes after application, the subjects stick their arms into cages filled with 200 disease-free mosquitoes.

“Our testing paints a pretty clear picture,” Roberts says. “No matter the brand or what kind of repellent you’re using, products made with 15 to 30 per cent DEET worked the best.”

One of their recommendations is OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent 8 Dry Formula. The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. says DEET has been thoroughly tested and is safe when properly used, but there are alternatives.

“Products with 30 per cent oil of lemon eucalyptus are good alternatives, and we also have a few high scorers that contain 20 per cent picaridin,” Roberts says.

No matter which repellent you choose, to be effective it has to be applied properly. Use a thick coat on all exposed skin. You can also spray it on top of your clothes, but don’t apply underneath. And be sure to wash your hands after applying and wash off the repellent when you return indoors.

With files from Consumer Reports