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

Which Scents Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your Home?

“When the days begin to warm and the afternoon rains move in, so do the pesky mosquitoes. They congregate in the humid grass and standing puddles of water, waiting for you to come outside and enjoy the nice weather. These virtually unseen little pests like to suck your blood and leave you with nasty, itchy bumps and hardly ever have consequences. Yet, there are certain scents that can keep these little monsters away and they may just save you from scratching your skin raw.

  According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, DEET (a commonly used insect repellent) is one of the best scents at keeping mosquitoes away. He claims that when DEET is “applied to unbroken skin… it is safe to use”. The scent of DEET creates a vapor barrier on your skin to make it hard for mosquitoes to land (according to Off!). You can find DEET in aerosol cans of bug repent pretty easily at your local store and when choosing the strength level, just know that the percent of DEET only determines how long the protection will last. 

Another common bug repellent scent is citronella. Citronella is typically found in outdoor candles and when burned the citronella gives off a scent that repels mosquitoes. If you are wanting to keep the insects away without smelling like bug spray, a citronella candle is a way to go. However, a study done by Trop Med Int Health found that over lengthened periods of time, citronella products proved to be less effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes.

man use fumigation mosquitoes machine for kill mosquito carrier of Zika virus and dengue fever

Essential oils have been studied hundreds of times to reflect their numerous health benefits. They can improve sleep, alleviate headaches and even improve your complexion. However, few people know about the benefit that essential oils have on repelling mosquitoes. Scents of lavender, peppermint, and even geranium can prevent you from getting bit. A study done in 2011 proved that applying peppermint can repel mosquitoes for up to 150 minutes with 100% effectiveness. It is good to note that these are pure oils and can cause allergic reactions to the skin if too much is applied. Similarly, these do not work as well as DEET but do provide a more natural option. 

Tiger Mosquito

Having trouble finding some of these less common bug repellent scents? Luckily there are three things that are even easier to find than DEET and citronella and you might even have them in your pantry right now. These three things, believe it or not, are garlic, lime, and basil. Many myths and spooky stories say garlic is supposed to protect you from vampires, so it is not surprising that the scent of garlic keeps away the insect vampires as well, but it is not as effective as other remedies. If you do not want to smell like garlic, simply cut a lime in half and set it next to you while outside. This will help repel mosquitoes and emit a nice citrus smell. Lastly, basil naturally releases a scent that repels mosquitoes without needing to be cut or smashed. This means that if you plant a bit of basil outside you can repel mosquitoes and also have some fresh basil to use in the kitchen.

Unfortunately for mosquitoes, there are tons of things that will keep the little insects away. Things spanning from DEET to lavender essential oil can keep you and your loved ones safe. So, this year you can try to avoid getting the itchy and sometimes dangerous bites that mosquitoes may give you by using some of these mosquito repellent scents. 

Taylor Lansky

University of Arizona

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.