We are usually prone to mosquito bites due to a combination of smells, light, heat and humidity. If you’re a mosquito magnet, you’re probably tired of bumpy, itchy skin. Different species of mosquitoes prefer bacteria and sweat. Others are attracted to carbon dioxide and certain hand odors.
Whatever species you encounter, you can protect yourself without having to use a chemical repellent. Chemicals can cause health and environmental problems. You may choose to avoid using these products unless you are traveling to places where the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, is high. If you are doing activities like a hike, a walk in your garden, or a camping trip, natural repellents may be a better option. This may be especially true for children, who are more sensitive.
The 9 Most Effective Natural Mosquito Repellents
1. Lemon eucalyptus oil
Used since the 1940s, lemon eucalyptus oil is one of the best-known natural repellents. A recent study showed that a 32% blend of lemon eucalyptus oil provided over 95% protection against mosquitoes for three hours.
do it yourself
You can create your own blend with 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil to 10 parts sunflower or witch hazel oil.
Crushed lavender flowers produce a fragrance and oil that can repel mosquitoes. In addition, lavender has analgesic, antifungal and antiseptic qualities. This means that in addition to preventing mosquito bites, it can calm and soothe the skin.
do it yourself
You can grow lavender in an outdoor garden or in indoor planters. Crush the flowers and apply the oil to sting-prone parts of the body, such as the ankles and arms. Also drop some lavender oil on a clean cloth and rub it into the skin.
3. Cinnamon Oil
Cinnamon isn’t just a great addition to applesauce or oatmeal. According to a study conducted in Taiwan, cinnamon oil can kill mosquito eggs. It can also act as a repellent against adult mosquitoes, including the Asian tiger mosquito.
do it yourself
For a dilute 1% solution, mix 1/4 teaspoon (or 24 drops) of oil to 20ml of water. You can spray the liquid on your skin or clothes, around your house, and on upholstery or plants. Be careful when applying cinnamon oil, as a concentrated dose can irritate your skin.
4. Thyme oil
When it comes to repelling mosquitoes, thyme oil is one of the best for providing protection. In an animal study, 5% thyme oil applied to the skin of hairless mice provided 91% protection. You can also throw thyme leaves into a campfire. Research shows that burning thyme leaves provides 85% protection for 60-90 minutes.
do it yourself
For a homemade infusion, combine 4 drops of thyme oil with each teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive or jojoba oil. For a spray, mix 5 drops of thyme oil with 10 ml of water.
5. Catnip Oil
Nepeta parnassica, a member of the mint family related to catnip, can repel mosquitoes. One study found that the oil from the plant can effectively repel mosquitoes for two to three hours. Catnip is 10 times more effective than chemical repellents at repelling mosquitoes.
6 . Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a common, natural and effective essential oil that works against mosquitoes. Made from a mixture of herbs, it is used in many mosquito repellents. Outdoors, citronella candles can provide up to 50% more protection. Research shows that the formulation of lemongrass is important for its effectiveness. When properly formulated, the product is as effective as chemical repellents and can protect you for up to two hours. If the formula isn’t right, the citronella can evaporate quickly and leave you unprotected.
7. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a popular essential oil native to Australia. This oil is known for its antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. But recent studies also suggest that tea tree oil may be an effective insect repellent. Repellents containing tea tree oil are effective against mosquitoes, flies and biting gnats.
Geraniol is a type of alcohol used as a fragrance or flavoring. It comes from vegetable oils like citronella, citronella and rose. As an ingredient in mosquito repellent, it is known to be effective for two to four hours, depending on the species. Keep it away from your eyes and try to avoid using it if you have sensitive skin. Geraniol can cause eye and skin irritation.
9. Neem oil
Although neem oil is promoted as a natural alternative, results are mixed on its effectiveness. A recent study on the effectiveness of neem oil found that it provided over 70% protection for three hours. Neem oil is not approved as a topical repellent as it may cause skin irritation.
Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. They are always diluted in a carrier oil like almond oil. The recipe is usually 3-5 drops of essential oil in 1 part carrier oil.
It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to the active ingredients of essential oils. Before using any new product, do a spot test on a small patch of your skin and wait an hour or two to make sure there is no hives or burning sensation.
Treat mosquito bites
Even with mosquito repellent, you can get painful and itchy mosquito bites. To treat mosquito bites at home, you can try rubbing apple cider vinegar on the bite site. Putting a slice of raw onion or freshly cut garlic on the bite can also relieve and prevent infections. If you develop an infection or allergic reaction due to a large number of mosquito bites, take note of your symptoms and contact your doctor. A high temperature, pus or bleeding from the site of the bite, or scabs that won’t go away may be signs of a problem.
Cheng, SS., Liu, JY., Tsai, KH., Chen, WJ., & Chang, ST. (2004). Chemical composition and mosquito larvicidal activity of essential oils from leaves of different Cinnamomum osmophloeum provenances [Abstract]. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 52(14), 4395-4400
Choi, WS, Park, BS, Ku, SK, & Lee, SE (2002). Repellent activities of essential oils and monoterpenes against Culex pipiens pallens. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 18(4), 348-351
Frances, SP, Rigby, LM, & Chow, WK (2014, March). Comparative laboratory and field evaluation of repellent formulations containing DEET and lemon eucalyptus oil against mosquitoes in Queensland, Australia. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 30(1), 65-67
Gkinis, G., Michaelakis, A., Koliopoulos, G., Ioannou, E., Tzakou, O., & Roussis, V. (2014). Evaluation of the repellent effects of Nepeta parnassica extract, essential oil, and its major nepetalactone metabolite against mosquitoes. Journal of Parasitology Research, 113(3), 1127-1134
Greive, KA, Staton, JA, Miller, PF, Peters, BA, & Oppenheim, VMJ (2010, February 16). Development of melaleuca oils as effective natural-based personal insect repellents. Southern Entomology, 49(1), 40-48
Maiia, MF, & Moore, SJ (2011, March 15). Plant-based insect repellents: A review of their efficacy development and testing. Malaria Journal, 10(1), S11
Peterson, CJ, & Coates, JR (2011, December 13). Catnip essential oil and its nepetalactone isomers as repellents for mosquitoes. ACS Symposium Series, 1090, 59-65
Phasomkusolsil, S., & Soonwera, M. (2011, September). Efficacy of herbal essential oils as insecticide against Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Culex quinquefasciatus (Say) and Anopheles dirus (Peyton and Harrison). The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, 42(5), 1083-1092
Like our content ?
Receive our latest publications free of charge and directly in your mailbox every day