Which scents keep mosquitoes away from your home — Luis’s student essay

Which Scents Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your Home?

Eucalyptus: The Mosquito’s Pest

My name is Luis Lopez. I am a Marine Corps veteran of 12 years, and have worked as a firefighter/paramedic in the State of Texas. In 2003, I joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17. And in 2006, my first overseas deployment was to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I was a rifleman in an infantry unit, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Company, Alpha Company. We were tasked with providing security for our base, Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. Our base was 10 miles away from the Gulf of Aden, and in summer time, temperatures could get past 140-degree Fahrenheit.

The problem we commonly encountered when we were at our security posts or on patrol were the mosquitoes. Aside from the locusts and bees, the mosquitoes would consistently pester us while we tried to maintain a professional security posture. So, imagine wielding high caliber automatic weapons and trying to keep a military posture in heat over 140 degrees while having to fend off locust and mosquitoes, while in hostile territory.

Unfortunately, the DEET we were given (100%) was not effective for these pests. Moreover, their mouths were able to penetrate through our utility uniforms. So, we had to brainstorm solutions to deal with this. Our main concern was contracting malaria and West Nile virus. And the local medical facilities were ill-equipped to provide substantial treatment for these illnesses. We did request corn starch from family members back home as a means of treating the bites. But that seemed to be the best option for that time.

mosquito bites.

In 2017, I moved from Los Angeles, CA to San Antonio, TX to attend the Paramedic Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). While in school, I was reacquainted with an old enemy: mosquitoes. But this time, I was not willing to cake myself with corn starch to treat the bites. One of my fellow students in the Paramedic Program told me that people in Texas Vicks VapoRub to treat the mosquito bites. And surprisingly, it worked really well: more so than the corn starch. I was often stung mainly around my hands and feet. But after rubbing the VapoRub on my affected areas (hands and feet), I noticed the mosquitoes began to avoid those areas. I had to do look at the ingredients, and saw the VapoRub contains eucalyptus (main ingredient) and menthol.

Closeup on traditional mosquito repellent coil emit smoke to repel mosquito outdoor

Upon this discovery, I began to research natural mosquito repellents. And what I discovered with this research is that eucalyptus is a natural mosquito repellent. There are various naturopathic websites with their own take on the matter, but I feel the most reliable source for confirmation is the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC has listed six repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); one being lemon eucalyptus.

I personally have never used lemon eucalyptus, Rather, I have only used pure eucalyptus essential oil and VapoRub as a repellent on myself. Of course, when I was hired on with one of the local county fire departments, they used lemon eucalyptus spray and eucalyptus candles to ward off the mosquitoes. The only reason I chose not to wear eucalyptus essential oils at work was because of the pungent smell, which not appropriate when you are in a firehouse or around patients. So, I had to use lemon eucalyptus, which did work fine. But for the home, having an essential oils diffuser worked very well to repel mosquitoes.

To conclude: while there are many EPA-approved mosquito repellents, the one that seems to have the best effect and in most common use is eucalyptus. Whether it is mixed with lemongrass oil, from the VapoRub, in a candle, or as an essential oil; the consensus is that eucalyptus is the best natural repellent for mosquitoes.

Author: Rebecca Papineau

Western Governors University


  • https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html

Student Scholarships

Every year Thrive Pest Control hosts an essay contest and the reward is a 1-year scholarship at a 4-year university in the United States. This blog post is one of those scholarships.