Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Citronella Plant Keeps Mosquitoes Away

Mosquitoes are becoming a more important pest as new varieties move north in North America, and the incidence of diseases increases. Around here there is a big concern about the West Nile Virus so it is only natural that people try to find simple ways to keep mosquitoes away.

A very common solution is citronella. Some suggest planting the citronella plant next to your patio to keep mosquitoes away. Others rely on citronella candles. These solutions are just myths.

Pelargonium Citrosum - marketed as "mosquito plant"

Pelargonium Citrosum – marketed as “mosquito plant”

What is the Citronella Plant?

As I started researching for this post I was very surprised to learn that the so-called “citronella plant” is not the plant that produces citronella oil – the active ingredient in citronella candles. The picture above shows the citronella plant; also called Pelargonium citrosum. This geranium is unrelated to the true citronella. Not only that but the scientific name of the plant is not even recognized as a valid name. It is a geranium (ie Pelargonium) and it sort of smells like citronella. It even has some of the same aromatic chemicals found in citronella, but it is a different plant.

But does it work? Testing shows that it does not repel mosquitoes. In fact, mosquitoes seem to enjoy sitting on the plant. For more details see Mosquito Plant, Pelargonium Citrosum – The Citrosa Plant.

Will the Real Citronella Plant Stand Up!

Citronella oil is extracted from various species of lemongrass (genus Cymbopogon – say that name 3 times fast!). This is a perennial clumping grass that grows to a height of 6 feet. It is not frost hardy.

Cymbopogon citratus - lemongrass

Cymbopogon citratus – lemongrass

Does Citronella Control Mosquitoes?

So much for botany – does the real citronella plant or the oil work?

Let’s first consider the plant itself. If the aroma from the plant wards off mosquitoes, then this would only work for you if you are sitting in or right next to the plant. The reality is the amount of chemicals given off by plants is very small. You will smell them most when you brush against them or you crush a leaf. Growing the plant will have almost no effect on mosquito control.

Research in North America has confirmed that citronella oil is effective and the oil is registered as an insect repellant in the US. Studies in the EU failed to validate its effectiveness and they have banned the product as an insecticide.We must conclude from this that “we don’t know if it works”, but if Europe can’t find any evidence that citronella oil works, I tend to be skeptical.

If it does work, it does need to be applied frequently – at least every hour.

Citronella oil is a natural product – a good ‘organic product’. Keep in mind that it is also 2 times more deadly than Roundup. Both products are relatively safe, but it is important to understand that this organic solution does have a risk. How toxic is citronella oil? One way to measure toxicity is to measure the LD 50, in this case, the LD 50 on rabbit skin. It turns out citronella oil has a value (4700 mg/Kg) and DEET  is (4280 mg/Kg). Both have similar toxicities and both are very safe.

You might also be interested in this post: Mosquito Repellents That Work Against Zika Virus

What About Citronella Candles – Do They Keep Mosquitoes Away?

This is a myth. The amount of oil in candles is extremely small and citronella candles don’t work any better than regular candles – neither works well.

Correction: The above statement was the initial entry in the post. It is not quite correct. Work at the University of Guelph tested citronella candles. In a 5 minute period subjects received 6, 8, and 11 bites for citronella candles, regular candles, and no candles, respectively. Citronella candles were marginally better than regular candles and reduced bites by half compared to using nothing. So they work, a bit, but I don’t consider 1 bite a minute as satisfactory. Deet is much more effective.

Fragrant Plants and Mosquitoes

There are lots claims that fragrant plants such as catnip, citronella grass, beebalm, marigolds, lemon balm, lavender, geraniums, thyme, wormwood, rosemary and various mints, repel mosquitoes in the garden. Do they work? I’ve reviewed this in Mosquitoes Repelled By Fragrant Plants.

What Did the Voyageurs Do About Mosquitoes?

The voyageurs were responsible for exploring much of North America for the white man. They traveled through the wilderness with few comforts of home. A million black flies and mosquitoes and no DEET! Just think about that. What did they use? One source, The Voyageurs, suggests that the best repellant was a mixture of bear grease and skunk urine. I guess that after collecting the skunk urine you smelled so bad that even the bugs stayed away. Another source suggests that spruce bows tied around the neck are of some help. I have spent a lot of time in the wilderness and have tried the spruce boughs – I’ll stick to DEET.

For the latest of mosquito repellents have a look at this review: Mosquito Repellents – Best Options.


1) Efficacy of Citronella Candles and Citronella Incense:

2) Photo Source for Pelargonium Citrosum: Chhe (talk)

2) Photo Source for Cymbopogon citratus – lemongrass: Public domain from Wikipedia

If you like this post, please share .......
Robert Pavlis
Editor of
I live in southern Ontario, Canada, zone 5 and have been gardening a long time. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

I hope you find Garden Myths an educational site that helps you understand your garden better.

179 Responses to 'Citronella Plant Keeps Mosquitoes Away'

  1. Paul says:

    Sorry, Robert, but your researchers are wrong. I sit outside in the South every evening. When the mosquitos start biting, I light a citronella candle. Within minutes, the problem is solved. If you think about how a mosquito finds you, it makes sense that the carbon dioxide produced by the candle and the odor of citronella will interfere with the chemoreceptors in their antennae. It isn’t a perfect solution, but citronella candles do indeed work.

    • So you are saying that your observation, which has no controls, no measurements, and is not published, is more accurate than proper research?

      You are missing the whole point of science.

      • Shirley says:

        Most people in the south do use citronella candles to repel mosquitoes. If it works why do you need a controlled study? (*you did post that correction that it offered some help in repelling but you preferred deet…which gives me a rash as quickly as I apply it.

  2. Shashank says:

    Thanks a lot Robert for a lot of concised information.

  3. Tim Barber says:

    ” Now, when does it bloom or what do,I do to make it bloom would like to enjoy the flowers while swatting …” was in the reading of this site when I did a search for how to get citronella to bloom. Upon entering this site I read everything EXCEPT the statement that lead me to click on this site’s link to start with.So if anyone here has a true knowledge of the plant, then someone answer this question. please. I have planted citronella plants around my house for 10 years and NEVER has any of them bloomed out.

  4. Carole Eff says:

    Just came upon this long duscussion on mosquitos. Recently I read that mosquitos are attracted to people with the ‘O’ blood type, which I have, which may explain why I attract so many of them whilst my husband has less trouble.
    Also nobody mentioned the electric bug zappers that people hung up on their patios or decks, that were all the rage some years ago. Do they even exist any more?

    • The problem with bug zappers is that they kill indiscriminately – all the good bugs as well as mosquitoes. I don’t think they were very effective.

      • Loren says:

        Hello Robert, thank you for your very informative footwork. Did you try the coils? You know, the ones you light like incense?

      • Shirley says:

        News “is it true” segments said that the zappers made the bugs come to it so you ended up with more in the area of the zapper..not cool.

    • Lynanne says:

      I am O positive and the mosquitoes will usually leave me alone and go after my husband, who is A positive. He also tends to put out more body heat than me. I think that has more to do with the mosquito attraction than blood type. Does your body temperature tend to be high? My body temp stays below the standard 98º.

      • Marty says:

        I am A neg and the little bastards love me. I don’t think this writer has any suggestions on what plants to keep to keep mosquitoes away ? Does he? Help !!!

    • Loren says:

      I have B+ and my husband and I can relate to your situation. I’m slaughtered while my husband is unbitten. I don’t think blood type is a valid indicator.

  5. Matt says:

    Hey Robert,

    Thanks for the website, I found it useful. I thought you might want to know that this youtube video totally ripped off your writing for use in their video (with the exact wrong conclusion haha):

  6. Leslie says:

    I’m one of those who gets turned into a buffet by mosquitoes, and my skin welps with each bite. Oddly enough I was the only person not bitten during an outing on a few occasions, and I had used a scented cream from Bath and Body Works- Japanese Cherry Blossom. Not rocommending this, but curious as to having an explanation from someone as to why this actually worked. It’s a very strongly scented item, wondering if maybe they just couldn’t “smell” me.

    • The current science as to why mosquitoes like certain people indicates that it a result of chemicals we give off, and we all give them off differently. A covering scent may well work. Or the soap modified the chemicals you give off.

  7. Crystal says:

    Skin so soft by Avon works. Anytging else in my opinion os garbage or cancer ridden poison…

    • So you prefer to use the chemical IR3535, or 3-[N-Butyl-N- acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester, which is the active insecticide found in skin so Soft instead of DEET.

      Both are considered safe and neither causes cancer.

    • Yes it does, Wonderfully !!!
      I have been using it for over 25 years! I also wipe my screens with it, in the spring and in July to keep them and other bugs out!

  8. Campbell says:

    It’s interesting how passionate and singleminded uneducated people can be about what they think is ‘science’. Science is largely based on observation. I’m sitting here in front of my citronella lamp and my Tasmanian whisky without a single bite. Since I started using the oil lamp I’ve not even seen a mossie. Consider this a peer-reviewed article as my microbiologist sits here with me and agrees. 🙂

    • Daniel says:

      Actually, no, you sitting in front of a lamp with your whisky counting your lack of bites does not, in any way, constitute science. The linked abstract along with numerous other studies do, because the word “science” has an actual definition of which you seem to be unaware.

  9. Sandra says:

    I find that when my husband and I go out to sit in the shade or on our front porch, that my husband gets eaten up but not me. This gets me to thinking we are both type 2 diabetics. sweet blood, but our medicines are different. even before I became one I didn’t get eaten up by them. There is also another difference I eat a lot of garlic in my foods and love to try different spices as we, one being curry, and cumin. I have known for years that the citronella plant doesn’t work, but sure remember as a child using DEET and it did work. I do take B12 shots due to medical condition so didn’t know if that had a reason as well either. Maybe some thing works for some while others it don’t. I do know for a fact lemongrass oil does attract bees, black flies, green flies and wasp, as well as yellow jackets. I know this because we use it in our mix with spearmint to feed our honey bees during dearth season. I adore the mixture, the smell is so amazing. I found Humming birds and bats are the best control for us and our garden.

    • Sandra says:

      I did some looking up on spices and cumin repels mosquitos. Oh and I do remember DEET left a tingling numb like feeling on my skin.

    • SquashFlower says:

      Thank you for the details on lemongrass. I sprayed deet on my patio walls [about 2-3 meters from my plants] and any spray that even touched my plants instantly dried them out, or they developed black spots. DEET close to plants was certainly a bad experience in my case. Hope its okay to share the experience.

  10. Valerie says:

    I’m highly allergic to deet so it is very unsafe for me. I didn’t know deet was used in anything other than mosquito repellent! I’m shocked and very upset about this.

    • MrsB says:

      I don’t know if it is out imagination or just circumstantial but every since we have planted “imposter” citronella, we have not had any mosquitos around the perimeter of our plants e.g. front porch and back deck and pool.

  11. Valerie says:

    I have a lemongrass plant in a pot (3ft plant) and I’m west of Atlanta GA. My issue with the plant is that it ATTRACTS houseflies!! No matter where I put the plant, flies are drawn to it therefore I keep it away from my front door. But I love the smell of the plant. Apparently science is missing something because my lemongrass does not fit in to this equation.

  12. Nick says:

    Have you had any dealing with Permethrin as a viable deterrent? I know it works great at keeping most bugs at bay around my house and also on survival/hiking gear. Not sure about misquotes though.

    • No – I do not recognize it as a mosquito repellent.

      • James Verdi says:

        Well maybe you should reconsider that point of view:

        Commonly grown as ornamental border plants, marigolds are hardy annual plants which have a distinctive smell which mosquitoes, and some gardeners, find particularly offensive. Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents.

  13. Mosquitoes are attracted to CO2. The gas is used as “bait” in science experiments to trap them. It makes sense that any kind of combustion, including candles, releases CO2 and may distract the filthy buggers. DEET works and prevents the transmission of deadly diseases such as Dengue, malaria, and Zika.

  14. Greenbean says:

    Dear Robert, if your finding is true, can you explain why Asian people did not die or poison after consuming citronella in their daily meals? Citronella or lemongrass plants are very common ingredients that was cook in Asian dishes in almost all the Asian country. If they are poison then why there isn’t any news publish on people poison or die consuming them? If according to your finding, the so called DEET is safer than natural plant, are they consumable just like the lemongrass or citronella? I do apply citronella oil on my little girl who is very prone to mosquito bites and I find them very effective against mosquito bites.

    • You can eat DEET and you will not die! Provided you don’t eat too much. When it comes to poisonous and toxic substances it is all about ‘dose’. It is important how much you consume, either through the skin, air or by eating. Just because citronella oil might be poisonous at high doses does not mean eating small amounts will harm you.

      Coffee is full of poisons and carcinogens. We still drink it and no body dies from it. Why? The levels of these compounds is very low. ie the dose is low.

  15. David says:

    I think you are wrong about Lemongrass. It does have a fantastic effect. I stayed at a resort in Bali and they planted Lemongrass all along the side of every hut. The scent is very noticeable and there were no mosquitos. In Bali you know that its primarily jungle and there are mosquitoes everywhere and when I checked into another resort, I had to use bug repellent and even with that I still got stung by mozzies. That’s my first hand experience.

      • Amanda says:

        Science disagreeing does not mean that it does not work. My family has had problems with mosquitoes in the house for years, as soon as we got some of the “fake” citronella and some lemon grass they were gone, at least in the growing room. I believe they do have limited reach, however that does not mean they have no effect whatsoever.

        • None of my post is about getting rid of them in a room. They do have some effect and in a closed space they might work.

          I just read that citronella oil has now been approved in the EU as a herbicide but still not for mosquitoes. Do you want to be burning herbicide candles in your room?

      • Linda says:

        Science is merely man trying to discover how God engineered His creation. Man is fallible in his quest for the truth. So, scientific findings do not rule the day. Man’s interpretation is often shallow. The more man tampers with nature, the more toxic that substance is to our bodies. Period!

        • Ok – but you did not provide an alternative to science? If you do not buy into science – what do you believe? Pinterest?

          And God has nothing to do with it.

          • Robert you make great comments! Keep up the good work and I’m am not being sarcastic!! We live in SW Florida I am a mossie magnet even when I have long trousers and long sleeve shirts on. Only thing I have found that works is ‘OFF Deep Woods’ and even that is erratic.
            Thank you.

    • clara says:

      Citronela plants work on my deck and patio to keep mosquitos away. I can sit out early mornings and late evenings with no annoying mosquitos. I can enjoy my coffee or tea without mosquitos.

  16. Erica says:

    Maybe it’s a coincidence, but after placing a citronella plant beside my front door last summer all flying insects, that usually hung out when the light was on, disappeared. Another coincidence I assume, when construction workers tossed it out by mistake the insects returned. Bottom line, whether it’s a myth or not I am searching for another citronella plant to place next to my front door. I’ll see what happens this time.

    • A.S. says:

      You don’t have to search to hard Lowe’s has both lemongrass and citronella

  17. Lesia says:

    We use a black flag mosquito fogger. We live in Orlando Fl and have a 40 tiki hut and lots of lush plants and vines. During what we call mosquito season fog all the bushes with this fogger and it def works to keep them away. Just stay out of the fog when using. It’s moist fog layers onto plants and creates a deterrent so the pesky biters dont hang out. The risks from black flag are worth getting rid of the disease carrying biters!

  18. T. Evans says:

    You could wear an environmental body suit, this is probably the only sure-fire way to not be bitten.

  19. D. Howard says:

    As a physician, here is my humble point of view: there are real and grave risks that come with using DEET and other chemicals. Some patients nearly died from the use of DEET so please when you say it is “safe” please make sure to include the risks too. Your “scientific” approach is lacking immensely… You seem very sold to DEET and to science. As a scientist, I will tell you to be a bit more open minded. More and more, even at the world famous Mayo Clinic, we recommend plants and home remedies. At least, stop trying to exclude other more natural methods and herbs from what people would consider using without your bullying “help”. Good luck to all.

    • You forgot to include even one reference to support your views??

      I’d like to be open minded but that is difficult without some evidence to show that “Some patients nearly died from the use of DEET”.

  20. Jacy Poo says:

    I hope my first reply gets posted (re: science vs religion) but if not, no worries. It is a bit off topic.

    But staying on topic now:

    If DEET was made out of baby tears and rose petals, people would still fear it – regardless of the amount of research to back it. Why? because it has a scary, chemical-sounding abbreviated name that is in all caps: DEET.

    It’s like saying: THE DEVIL.

    On the other hand, you take something with far less research (re: toxicity to humans) but you give it a cute, citrusy name (like “Citronella”), and everyone is in love. It’s like organic kale and handmade craft lemonade had a baby, only better. If it sounds “natural” people will wash their faces and gargle with it.

    Scientists and manufacturers should stop calling DEET DEET. Instead they should call it something like “organic camel piss from morrocco with 10% shaved mountain goat testicles from Siberia”. You wouldn’t be able to keep it on the shelves!!!

    Kidding aside: I seem to be highly attractive to mosquitos (and my husband). If I am in a group of people, I BECOME the mosquito repellent FOR THEM (cause the mosquitos start preferentially sucking my blood). The only effective products I have ever used are DEET, Pericardin and another spray with a chemical starting with teh letter “E” (can’t recall the name at the moment; in any case, it is touted as being “organic” or “plant-based” and is far less effective that either DEET or pericardin).

  21. Daniel says:

    If smoke appears to work so well, then why don’t we use, or why hasn’t anybody done a study, on the small smoke containers that beekeepers use. Wonder if you smoked a couple of those up and set them around your outdoor area if that would work?

    • I don’t think anybody said that smoke worked so well. It does work but is still less effective than things like DEET.

      Smoke is also not healthy. It contains all kinds of chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic.

    • jmscnny says:

      I live in Australia, and lived in the tropics for years. The mozzies here will pick you up and carry you away if you give them the chance, and we have a rather nice selection of really amusing diseases carried by the little suckers.
      Mosquito coils do work in keeping the little vampires at bay, and over the years I have used almost every type on the market.
      The Citronella and Sandalwood varieties work, and don’t smell that bad, but they clearly tell you on the box that use outdoors or in areas of excessive ventilation will reduce their effectiveness.
      The plant based ingredients really are just to distract from the smoke.
      The varieties that contain D-Allethrin will actually kill Flies and Mosquitoes indoors, but do you really want to be breathing in smoke and vapourised insecticide on a regular basis? If you have no other option the coils will do the job, and an outdoor fogger insecticide spray can clear an outdoor barbeque area for up to half an hour as long as there is no breeze.
      My cats lay up under a large clump of lemongrass, and judging by the mozzies on their ears and noses when they do, planting lemongrass is best done for its decorative and culinary properties only.
      I have heard anecdotal reports that consuming large amounts of B group vitamins can make you less attractive than the poor sucker sitting next to you, but who knows?
      Rubbing a scored up lemon rind over exposed skin will deter blood suckers, but it does smell pretty strong, and has to be reapplied on a regular basis.
      The only sure-fire fix is DEET, not ideal, but it works.

      • I have found no evidence that vitamin B has any effect on keeping mosquitoes away.

        • Sean says:

          I’m usually the guy in a group that gets chewed up while the others laugh. In the warmer months i swallow vitamin b tablets daily and I never get bitten. Maybe it’s not generally effective, but it seems to work for me

      • Stephen says:

        I have a Holliday house in Wahstaffe, on the central coast of NSW, Australia…
        Every one of my neighbors let me know that the mossies were a big problem and being very sensitive to them decided to try and do something about it.
        We planted 54 Citronella lands on our back deck and the results were amazing…
        Our gardening service let us know that we were the only home they cared for that had no mossies..

    • vet eran says:

      No study. Not true. Early in my air force career it was deemed a suitable activity to be marooned in the bush with an axe, a knife and some fishing line. After several minutes it became evident that standing in the smoke was much less trouble than keeping the little buzzers out of your eyes. After a couple of weeks of being pickled by smoke, (never washing to any real degree either) , one started to appreciate the spiders in the sleeping bag as company. The unfortunate side effect was that one seemed equally repellent to human king when re-entering civilization. None of this is much solace to my wife who reacts very badly to any bites.

  22. Touko says:

    Spending much time in tropical places, where Mosquito control is pretty much impossible outside of a room with the doors kept closed, I have not found any remedy to avoid bites, since I prefer not to slather various toxins on my skin, where – lets be honest – nobody really knows for sure about the long term contribution to something eventually going wrong with your body chemistry, given the multiple sources of less than 200 year old molecules, unknown to our bodies over Eons of evolution.

    So I get bitten, several times a day.

    I don’t mind so much now, that I found a really good treatment for you got the bite, which leaves only oxygen and water behind: Hydroden Peroxide – 10%.

    At most, it bites a little as you apply it, but the mosquito bites stop itching after 10-15 minutes and the raised bump disappears within that same time.
    No ugly skin discolorations and no scabs from 3 days of scratching…

    I suppose the Pharma Mafia has no interest in advertising this, you can’t make any money off Hydrogen Peroxide and the total lack of eventual side effects makes lucrative follow-on sales unlikely.

    • I find that mosquito bites stop itching after 10 minutes with nothing added.

      Even if peroxide stops the itch it will not stop getting diseases from the bite. I’ll stick to DEET.

      • Akjen says:

        Obviously you don’t live where I do, I got bit last weekend and it swelled up and itched for 3 days!!

        • I don’t think it has anything to do with where you live. Some people are more sensitive than others.

          • Sandi says:

            When I first moved along the US gulf coast and started getting bit by hundreds of mosquitos each morning on my way to work I’d sting for a good 20 minutes or so. I think I built up a immunity to them because now most of the time I’ll feel a slight sting while they are biting but as soon as I kill or swat ten away the sting is gone

          • My own impression is similar. By mid summer mosquito bites are hardly noticed due to less pain when they bite. This desensitization seems to be supported by science:

  23. Akjen says:

    What an interesting article. I live in Alaska where often times the mosquito is called our state bird. Our little vampires, here, are mostly deterred by several layers of Deet but when out in the bush, camping or elsewhere for tables or when holding still we’ve found that citronella candles and coils do deter the mosquitos and swamp flies to some degree. I’ve also used apple cider vinegar on the skin which has a slight repellant effect but better for puski burns. Even after reading the article and comments I can’t see anything not worth trying and imagine different repellents work better in different locations despite generalized opinions.

    • I doubt that different repellents work much differently in different areas. But there are many species of mosquitoes and only a couple of species are used for testing – usually the ones that are most responsible for transmitting diseases. Other species may react differently.

      • Akjen says:

        Robert, Your a man of doubt! LoL!! If I get a chance I will attempt to collect evidence of citronella deterrent via photo or video.

  24. A Nicolaou says:

    I’ve just recently planted a number of various so called insect repelling herbs around my decking area. I’m new to gardening. We had our first meal out there yesterday. We don’t get that many mosquitoes in the UK, but as soon as there’s food you’ll get flies. I placed a lemon verbena on the dinner table, well as being surrounded by other strong scented herbs, and guess what! Hardly a fly came to touch our table. As for mosquitoes I’ve yet to see. I myself wasn’t sure whether it’s a myth or fact, but wanted to try out insect repelling plants. Not only are they attractive and useful, but they seemed to do the job I got them for.

    • Constance says:

      Ok I drank the cool aid and bought a citronella plant. Good news it’s very pretty . Now, when does it bloom or what do,I do to make it bloom would like to enjoy the flowers while swatting the mosquito . Any tips on odorous ants?

  25. Janelle says:

    Thank you for researching this! We planted “citronella” plants purchased from Lowes last summer & they did absolutely nothing to repel mosquitos- now I know why!

  26. Enzo benitez says:

    I am not sure what kind of scientific tests would please you. If I told you I planted lemon grass in my front yard but not in my backyard, and found there to be much more mosquitos in the backyard… wouldnt believe me. You have your opinion and I have my knowledge.

    • A scientific study published in a peer reviewed journal would be convincing.

      What you describe is not scientific since there are no controls, no replicates and no data. This type of evidence is call anecdotal. You can read more about its value here Anecdotal Evidence – Not Worth The Screen It is Written On.

      What you have is not knowledge – it is a belief based on anecdotal evidence. You can find people who believe every side of every issue based on this.

      • Nathan says:

        Robert Pavlis: So when a scientific paper is written it cannot be wrong according to what you write. If it’s proven science then it’s true.

        How wrong you are! Science is proving itself wrong on many levels on a daily basis.

        Let’s face it, even Darwin’s Theory is still only a theory and is not backed by one shred of evidence that we descended from apes.

    • Tom Presslar says:

      I certainly believe you Enzo.

    • Ari says:

      maybe it just means mosquitoes like your backyard, with or without any lemongrass. You can’t make a comparison with completely different environments

      • A.S. says:

        I have both growing in my garden.Neither of them have a strong smell until you break them open. Also a whole lot of Ponds in the neighborhood at the bottom of Alabama. Mosquitoes love water stagnant water even better

  27. Bang says:

    I have tried everything known to man to combat mosquitoes.
    Foggers, citronella plants, citronella candles, bug zappers, sprays.
    I think the only things that came remotely close to repelling
    the mosquitoes was smoke.
    I sprayed the perimeter of my patio with industrial strength
    garlic oil, but I do not think that even worked (it actually made
    me hungry).
    So on that note, just go to the beach or your local cantina (bar) for
    the summer and resume outdoor enjoyment come fall.

  28. Janet says:

    I live in West Africa in a malaria zone. I am looking for something to plant in our back yard around the patio that will deter Mosquitos. For obvious reasons, I won’t rely on this, but to minimize the bugs might help those who do not use other repellents (ie locals). Thanks

  29. Drew says:

    It’s a shame so many people are unwilling to use their own powers of observation. Scientific research is based on observation, statistics and interpretation. Unfortunately for us, interpretation is often influenced by factors such as funding/marketing-intent, and human beings seeking to increase their social status by “discovering” something new.

    Whether your blind-faith is given to religion or to science, unless you are the scientist conducting the experiment you are accepting someone else’s word as truth; data interpreted through their environmentally-conditioned eyes. When you stop using your ability to think critically, you easily accept the opinions and perceptions of others, and since perception is reality (at least to us individually) you are no longer in control of the life you experience.

    I apologize that this post is off-topic, I just think far too many people blindly follow the science-god, forgetting that most science is funded by business not for the advancement of science or the good of mankind, but as a marketing tool to sell more product.

    Humans have been on this Earth for some time now, and have presumably been forced to deal with mosquitoes for all of history. Since most bug-repelling products sold in stores today have not been around long enough for long-term health effects (I’m talking generational) to be studied, I’ll stick to the “traditional” means effectively used by humans for thousands of years.

    I’m off now to conduct a personal scientific experiment on the effectiveness of lemongrass to repel mosquitoes, at the very least my yard will smell nice. For those of you willing to accept my personal scientific observations, burning cedar and/or covering yourself in the smoke has been a good mosquito deterrent for me and many human beings for a very long time.

    Mindfulness is freedom. May we all become more mindful beings.

    • Jacy Poo says:

      Going further off-topic (sort-of):

      Only faith in religion is “blind”. Whenever religon doesn’t explain something, religious folks will make up something off-the-cuff to explain it or re-interpret whatever’s in a religious text to try and explain it or simply say “the lord works in mysterious ways. you just have to have faith that there’s an answer/it makes sense, even if there isn’t/it doesn’t”

      Science (and I’m talkking about real science, not “junk science” by spin doctors) doesn’t do this. If results are as expected, this is reported. If results are not as expected, this is reported. If results are unhelpful / don’t seem to explain anything, then this is reported. Whatever the result – it gets reported. Scientists don’t go around making up creative and fanciful stories about spirits in the sky and other such nonsense when (current) science reaches it limits.

      There’s no “science god”. Just data and set (mathematical) methods to assist in understanding that data in a statistical way.

      Mistakes and/or misinterpretations happen in science — even with absolute adherence to scientific methodology. But here is where you see another key difference between science and religion: when science makes a mistake and it is uncovered/discovered, it gets reported (again, I’m talking about REAL science and ethical scientists). Example: when antinausea medication commonly given to pregnant women back 40-ish years ago was found to cause limb deformity in fetuses/babies, the “medical/science world” reported this finding and the medication was no longer used. But what does religion do whenever a contradiction is found in religious texts? or when a religious leaderdoes or says something that isn’t quite kosher? Or when various religions simply disagree? (clearly, someone is WRONG in many of these disagreements) — Religion simply digs its heels in and explains all of it away, as per usual.

      Please don’t compare science to religion. The only commonality between the two is, perhaps, the level of fidelity you find in its staunchest “followers”.

      I don’t understand why people who live their live by anecdotal evidence even care what science says? Go use your erbs and ointments and magical shavings from unicorn horns. Whatever pleases you. But why argue science? Just do whatever you want. As a fan of science, I can tell you that I haver never “dabbled in” researching religious texts or folklore (or anything else subjective, like the testimonials of random strangers) in an attempt to supplement my knowledge or understanding of something. Either science is able to provide a likely answer/explanation or we just don’t know (yet).

      I’m fine not knowing (rather that than superstition and fantasy).

      • Strawberry says:

        Oh dear, Jacy Poo,

        The conclusions of science are nearly always tentative, in the sense that tomorrow we will know more than we do today, but only so long as we are OPEN to the things we have yet to learn. In other words, a scientist isn’t arrogant about what our best knowledge is today. (And probably best not to be arrogant about those things about which it is clear to everyone else that one knows nothing. Theology and philosophy, for example.)

        It’s possible that you, like most people for the last half century, are tracking your cholesterol numbers, regardless of the fact that a very high percentage of those who die of CVD have low cholesterol. And would you be surprised to learn that women with high cholesterol live longer? The cholesterol hypothesis, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune said a couple years ago, is the story of how bad science became federal policy. When I found this web site I immediately thought of the Teicholz book, The Big Fat Surprise, because as the Kirkus Reviews says, it “tracks the process by which a hypothesis morphs into truth without the benefit of supporting data.” And that is what Robert Pavlis is doing here on this site, for a different set of topics!
        There are far-reaching, sometimes disastrous effects for arrogant “scientific” myth-making. The biochemist and honored nutritionist, David Kritchevsky, was one of many scientists who came up against the un-scientific POWER of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health many decades ago for suggesting that dietary fat standards should be changed. He and many others were persona non grata in professional societies, unable to rise in their occupations, excluded from scientific panels, cut off from grants, and unpublished in journals, all because they had a different opinion or set of conclusions — even though, as must be admitted forty or more years later, THEY WERE CORRECT. Far beyond careers being ruined, the health of millions of people have been adversely affected, to the point of death, because arrogance, aided by intellectual laziness, power, the desire for fame, greed, and simple herd instinct, overwhelmed the often besmirched IDEAL of science.

        So, Jacy Poo, I’ll use mostly your own words, in the hope that you’ll think about this more than FIFTY-YEAR long “scientific” experiment on the American people, motivated and perpetuated entirely by FAITH in the “science” that was drummed into the heads of the populace:

        “Only faith in [science] is “blind”. Whenever [science] doesn’t explain something, [scientific] folks will make up something off-the-cuff to explain it or reinterpret whatever’s in a [scientific] text to try and explain it….But what does [science] do whenever a contradiction is found in [scientific] texts ? Or when various [scientists] simply disagree ? [Scientists] simply dig in their heels….”
        How many docs do you know that aren’t still pushing this “theory” ?

        Interested folks may see a five page summary of this stubborn and health-damaging “scientifically” driven behavior at:
        Dietary cholesterol, heart disease risk and cognitive dissonance; Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, Volume 73, Issue 2;
        May 2014, pp. 161-166.

        Best to all in your searches.

    • Rob says:

      Well said Drew

  30. lyle sutton says:

    I have read every and all questions and answers from top to bottom. I have read citronella works and I read it doesn’t work, for repelling mosquettos. Well if it does or doesn’t work you guys can argue that one out. With that said what I want to know is, what DOES WORK? I don’t need to kill the pesky damn things, I just want to repell them for the little time we are out on our patio. I use an insect fogger and that works exceptionally well, the only problem with it is, the smell stays around so long. And some guests don’t enjoy smelling the repellent. As far as my neighbors go I don’t care one way or the other if they like the smell or not. Their all idiots anyway.

    • DEET does work and is safe. Picaridin also works.

    • JR says:

      If its of any help of all (as its totally anecdotal!) but I started using roll on tea tree deodorant as an insect repellent when I was pregnant and not wanting to use DEET. In my experience it works. I am usually well eaten by mossies and what we call sand-flies (in NZ). I have seen the insects land on the skin but then fly off when I have the tea tree on, so I assume it tastes bad.

  31. Melanie says:

    Try offering another solution such as catnip its 10 times more effective than Deet as a mosquito repelant or atleast that’s what a study found in 2010.

    • Don’t believe everything you read. I believe the study was from 2001 and it only tested catnip in the lab – not in a real world situation. The claim of being 10 times more effective than Deet is ridiculous. Deet is already 90% effective. How can a different product be 10 times more effective than this??

      The authors are playing with words. What they found was that less catnip was needed to move the same number of mosquitoes from the treated end of a tube to the non-treated end of a tube. They did not study how the catnip extract worked on humans to repel mosquitoes. They did not determine if there are any side effects of having catnip extract on skin – does it irritate the skin, for example.

      I could only find one obscure product that contained catnip, and it contained 3 other active ingredients. I guess the catnip alone is not that effective?

      I was not able to find a study that tested catnip in real world conditions. If you have such a study I would like to see it.

      • Branko says:

        You often mention science and scientific evidence. Science is only as good as people studying it and gets better when reviewed by others. The experiment mentioned here which is done at University of Iowa is an example when a poorly set-up experiment caused 100% wrong conclusion and is so funny that no other scientific body wanted to touch the subject. Meanwhile uncontested bombastic results propagated internet and became a topic of 1000’s of blogs.
        Here is another take on this experiment: A small test tube is simply not suitable for testing effectiveness of DEET because of it’s high vapour pressure and high effectiveness at very low levels. The entire interior of the tube was quickly contaminated with DEET beyond of what mosquitoes can detect as a small or a large amount. For poor mosquitoes it was all same so they decided to stay put as their senses weren’t able to detect a gradient towards cleaner less toxic area. For catnip oil tube, however, it was obvious they were able to detect gradual change from toxic air to clean air along the tube so they moved towards the cleaner side. So this experiment seems to have two 180 degrees opposite possibilities and I was frankly shocked that the Phd. student and his advisor didn’t pick up on it and proceeded with other tests. I mean, this is not a pharmaceutical experiment with some astronomical costs in millions of $$$, how really expensive and hard would be for them to play with it a couple of more days to check out validity of their findings. What you mentioned is correct, a real environment test would be appropriate.

        • Very interesting. Is this analysis of the experiment published on line anywhere?

          Was the original work by the University of Iowa ever published?

  32. Mike L says:

    Citronella is not an insecticide – it does not kill insects of any kind unless you drown them in a bucket of it. So, is it surprising that it is not an approved insecticide in Europe? Numerous scientific studies have shown citronella, in plant form and/or as a wax or liquid candle, to be as effective as other insect repellents. It is safe (and effective) to spray the dilute oil on clothing or bare skin to ward of many flying and crawling insects.

    DEET is more effective but much much more dangerous for people and the environment – read the labels. No such labels on citronella candles, oils, or concentrates. However, NO repellent is 100% effective.

    Sorry, but you are way off base on this one.


    • I am glad they work for you. But science can’t be based on anecdotal observations.

    • L M Griffith says:

      I live in Tennessee where there are a gazillion insects. I recently took care of a citronella plant of my friend while she underwent hip replacement. I had the plant for two weeks. During that time I did not have one mosquito, ladybug, stinkbug, wasp, gnat or ANY flying critter. These are insects I’ve been battling for years! So don’t tell me it doesn’t repel them.

      I took a trip to South America (Machu Pichu), and put 100% DEET on my arms and an all natural bug repellent made from herbs that naturally repel insects. Quess which one worked! The herbal formula worked, and I did receive bites from “no see-ums” on my arms where I had the 100% DEET.

      The plant did not give off an odor I could detect, but the insects sure did and avoided it. I’m getting one for myself. By the way, I abhor the odor of citronella candles or any scents for the reason they trigger my asthma. This plant did not.

      • So one citronella plant in your backyard kept away all flying insects? That is a powerful plant. If that were really true, don’t you think we would all have the plant in our back yard? Or that scientists would have confirmed this effect by now?

        I am glad it worked for you. The placebo effect can be very powerful.

        • Bwahahahahahaha! Oh man! There’s like ten psychosomatic red flags in this single comment, it’s amazing. Robert – I love that you actually reply to the idiots who refuse to acknowledge reality, I’d get sick of it. I also like the people citing citronella success by proffering results of one bite a minute down from two bites a minute. There is one and only one thing I am allergic to: MOSQUITO bites. I get a single bite and I’m miserable for a week. In the warm months I do not put a toe outside without deet, meat tenderizer, chigarid and benadryl. One bite a minute for 15 minutes and I’d shoot myself!

          This was such a great article, thanks!

          • Thanks – more mosquito posts to come shortly.

          • dale graham says:

            What would be the psychosomatic symptom of the lady with the geranium plant? Would it be the bites she got before she got the plant? Or the bites she didn’t get AFTER she got the plant? Or perhaps that she got bites AFTER the plant but that because she believed she should not get bitten her body had no histamine response to the bites and therefore didn’t even know she’d gotten bitten? It’s an interesting notion! I’m a firm believer in mind/body syndrome aka psychogenic pain syndromes and, you probably won’t like this, allergies. Yup. Allergies can be psychosomatic… usually are actually. Sigh…alas I still have them. Knowledge is power but only to a point. I can’t seem to get completely allergy free, though I have successfully staved off my SEVERE cat allergy on one and only one occasion. Oh well. If you are interested in learning more about the mind body connection you should pick up one of Dr. Sarno’s books. Good luck staying bite free this summer!
            P.S. I’ve used lemongrass oil on my skin with success but it is incredibly gross and oily and you don’t want to get it in your eyes. I’ve also used, since I was a kid, Avon’s skin so soft bath oil. Again, oily. Avon caught on to what people were doing in the 70s and now they sell a Skin So Soft insect repellant. Works well but really I think it is the oiliness that keeps you from getting bitten. So I don’t think it is a repellant but more of a bite deterrent. I think I remember being bitten on my face when the rest of me was slathered down in Avon SSS oil. Same with lemongrass oil. I just went out back a few hours ago and got about 6 bites in 5 minutes. I supposed that means I’ll be slip sliding through summer. Although I did order something today online called Wondercide. It is cedar oil I think. You are supposed to spray it on your yard to control fleas and ticks. They claimed on the phone that it was also effective at repelling mosquitos. We’ll see. LOL. I just realized my “P.S.” was possibly longer than my post! Hee. Happy Summer all!

      • Jacy Poo says:

        So why not just use citronella to your heart’s content, in peace and privacy, knowing that you have at your disposal an amazing weapon against mosquito attack, regardless of what science says — instead of being so defensive about something someone has posted that is contrary to your experience?
        Or, if you are concerned that this article will cruelly misguide millions of mosquito-bite sufferers, why not share your secrets with the world and create your own website extolling the virtues of citronella (or whatever else youthink works)?

        You’re so sure citronella (or other “natural” remedies) works and is less toxic than DEET, then go ahead and slather and surround yourself in the stuff and just sit back and laugh at all the fools around you who are dying of DEET poisoning.

        This guy is discussing the efficacy of CITRONELLA and the studies that back up his understanding of it. Probably a lot of people (like me) stumbled across this website because they have NOT had good luck with “natural” remedies like citronella and suspect that it is all BS (and also wonder is there’s any comparative data out there).

        It’s not like this guy is starting some kind of anti-citronella cult or taking anyone’s precious citronella plants away from them.

        Ok, I’ve had my fun, ya’ll. Someone pass the DEET.

  34. Wally says:

    May be myth but use listerine original mouthwash put in spray bottle , apply to body works good

    • Do you have any scientific evidence to support this position? If it really worked – it would be recommended by health organizations – it is not!

      • Kel says:

        I came upon your site after a search for natural mosquito repellents (I live in Northern Thailand and as you would know, the issues here at present with Dengue fever and the Zika scare are very real). There are certainly many suggested local methods but all anecdotal. If it works, happy to accept that ‘science’ in not required to solve issues of the world. PS. I think you need to consider who runs the health organisations.

      • Robert, please site scientific evidence that, “If it really worked – it would be recommended by health organizations – it is not!”? I seriously don’t think it is true. LOL

        In Florida, my subjective observation is that Avon Skin So Soft is very popular and effective.

        • I can’t find the quote you attributed to me on this post?? I did not discuss Avon Skin So Soft here?

          Do you have a reference of any health organization recommending Avon Skin So Soft?

          Here are references to some of the latest studies on controlling mosquitoes.

          Mosquito Repellents Best Options

          Mosquito Repellents that Work Against Zika Virus

          • It was your response to a comment:

            Wally says:
            May 12, 2015 at 12:53 am

            May be myth but use listerine original mouthwash put in spray bottle , apply to body works good

            Robert Pavlis says:
            May 12, 2015 at 11:12 am

            Do you have any scientific evidence to support this position? If it really worked – it would be recommended by health organizations – it is not!

            I also wanted to congratulate you on your blog. This was the first article I’ve read, and will read more.

          • The original question was about using Listerine. I have not found any studies that have even looked at Listerine as a mosquito repellent. I found this one quote from this reference: “Likewise, spraying Listerine around your home or outdoor areas isn’t an all-purpose mosquito preventive. It may kill some mosquitoes on which it is directly sprayed, but it won’t serve to keep knocking mosquitoes dead for hours and hours afterwards. Because it contains trace amounts of eucalyptol, mouthwash may also have limited effectiveness as a mosquito repellent, but it needs be kept in mind that actual eucalyptus-based mosquito repellents contain the compound in concentrations as high as 75 percent whereas the eucalyptol in mouthwash is usually below 1 percent, which means if it works at all, it isn’t going to work very well or for very long. ”

            My previously provided references show that eucalyptus-based mosquito repellents are only partially effective, and for short periods of time.

            As far as Skin So Soft goes it is not an insect repellent.

            this is what Consumers Report says

            Even Avon does not recommend it as an insect repellent.

    • A Nicolaou says:

      I’ve also heard this but never tried it!

  35. ddudley2014 says:

    I have had citronella geraniums on my back deck, on a pond, and have had little if no problems with mosquitos. I have around 8 plants scattered around and often pinch off a leaf and squeeze it, when I go out to sit for awhile. The odor smells so good. They work! just buy several to cover an area.

    • You may have the geranium, and you might not have mosquitoes, but scientific studies have shown the two events are not related. the geranium does not repel mosquitoes.

  36. Bernard says:

    I live in the bush in Australia, when we have a camp fire, we stand in the smoke for a while, after this we get no bites until we wash to go to town. The fire usually has a lot of eucalypt varieties in it.

    • Even smoke from other types of wood discourage mosquitoes. Years ago, when our tents had no bottoms, we would fill them with smoke from a soldering stick before going to bed. Not very practical in most back yards here, where fires are not allowed.

      Studies have shown even the smoke from candles has some effect.

  37. roy says:

    on the river…camping sites…use garlic spray to ward off ticks, fleas, chiggers, and mosquitos…

  38. Rob Lepper says:

    Citronella candles may reduce the number of mosquitoes entering an area, but one of the reasons for this is just the smoke itself. When I was working on a cattle station in the Australian outback, at sundown each day we would ensure that a log was smouldering in the horse paddock (paddock was about 4 sq km!). When we went to catch a horse in the morning, all the horses would be in a nice straight line, downwind from the smouldering log, in the smoke. No citronella, not DEET, just eucalyptus log smoke, keeping the flies and mosquitoes away.

  39. David L. says:

    I read that citronella overloads their sense of smell, so they wouldn’t be able to detect your CO2. The plants may not repel mosquitos but do they confuse the mosquitos senses, like a flash grenade, so that they can’t find you to bite? That would explain why the plants don’t seem to repel but may keep you from getting bit as much in your backyard.

    • I am not sure I follow your logic, but the reason lemongrass don’t repel mosquitoes is that the amount of citronella produced by living lemongrass, is too small. It only has some effect when it is extracted from the plant and put into a concentrated form.

      • Joseph Muscat says:

        The logic is that what smell do we emit… very little and mosquito’s pick it up, The same goes for the plants. So plants + humans = confusion to mosquito.

        • The problem with logic is that it only works if all of the variables have been taken into account. You are assuming mosquitoes are able to smell all chemicals equally – that is not likely to be true. Just because we find the smell of a mint plant to be strong, does not mean a mosquito can even smell it. It further assumes that a lot of chemicals make it harder for the mosquito to locate the source of the ones they favour.

          The latest research on why mosquitoes are attracted to some people and not others is that they can filter out the smells and they are attracted to certain combinations of smell. It is not just one smell.

          There are lots of arguments that can be made based on logic – but is there any scientific testing that shows smelly plants confuse mosquitoes? the tests I have seen don’t support this idea.

          • Leighton says:

            Mosquitoes may prefer some oders over others, & may even vary from mosquito to mosquito just like peoples prefrences vary from person to person. I have been bitten many times when I am alone but am rarely bitten when others are around. People I am with cant belive that I am not using deet or other repellants as they are being bitten and I am not, I will have to check to be sure I don’t smell like skunk.

          • The degree one attracts mosquitoes does definitely vary – science is just starting to understand why.

          • beth cuevas says:

            Have you found any recent data that identifies factors that increase one’s susceptibility to mosquito bites? Would these findings also apply to other biting insects (i.e. biting flies?)

          • There is lots of research on the attraction between mosquitoes and people. They are starting to isolate the chemicals responsible for differing attractions.

  40. Sandy says:

    Well,bummer…bought a nice Cintonella plant a few weeks ago from Home Depot. Was having mosquitoes coming into office & thought that would do the trick. Oh,well, nice smelling plant. Thanks for the info.

  41. 123456 says:

    My solution to mosquitoes when I am walking through their realm is tobacco. Smoke a good cigar while you walk about and mosquitoes won’t get close to you. And I know, smoking is bad for my health, but that part I don’t care.

  42. Justin says:

    This study/review of studies concludes citronella oil is as effective as deet, dose for dose, as well as looking at other potentially useful products. It also concludes citronella candles reduce bites by 50%, which is significant since it is not topically applied and results in no/little absorbtion into the skin (or via lungs) and eliminating many risk factors associated with applying chemicals to the body. The risk factors of DEET to humans and as a water pollutant after washing it off of plants or a human body are well known, as illustraded in the study linked a few comments upward.

    It also furthers the point that cherry picking minimal studies instead of a broad spectrum study can prove any hypothesis correct, including my own, albeit that future studies will disprove this and others will prove it further. Although it is safe to say that the citronella variety of geraniums produce no repellant effect, but hey, they do smell nice.

    Thanks for the good read.

    • Robert Pavlis says:

      Thank you so much for your comment and the reference.

      One has to be careful of metadata studies such as this where they look at many papers. Setting the wrong criteria, or including non-peer reviewed research can lead to very incorrect results. Having said that, this study does seem to have done a good job. Most of the references are from respectable journals.

      Citronella candles do reduce bites by 50% as this study, and my posted reference says. Is that significant? I guess it depends on how many bites you find acceptable. If I was trying to avoid malaria or west Nile, even 1 bite is not acceptable. Getting 1/minute instead of 2/minute is also not acceptable to me.

      The risk factors of DEET to humans is extremely low. DEET is considered safe by many public health authorities and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and WHO. (

      Citronella oil, applied directly to skin is effective as you point out. But it is not effective for a long period of time. Your reference suggests it works for 2 hours, most other reports recommend it for only 1 hour–this may improve in future formulations. It is interesting that your reference, which is medically based, concludes that “for the time-being travellers to disease endemic areas should not be recommended citronella-based repellents”.

  43. Mark says:

    I live in western Washington State. Mosquitos are a problem at various times. I’ve found that putting a couple citronella candles on the edge of my hot tub keeps them away while I’m sitting out there. I’ve read that it’s the CO2 which we exhale that attracts them. Is it possible that the citronella smell hides the CO2, so they don’t know we’re there?

    • Robert Pavlis says:

      The study I quoted indicated that “Citronella candles were marginally better than regular candles”. I don’t think mosquitoes like the smoke. As a long time camper, I have always noticed that when we got good and smoky around a camp fire, we were less attacked by mosquitoes.

      I doubt that citronella hides the smell of CO2. CO2 has no odor and mosquitoes must have a different way to recognize it–just guessing at this. It is interesting that anything burning, eg candle, fire, produces CO2 as part of the combustion process. You’d think that if they were attracted to CO2, that they would head for the candle or fire, not move away??

      • M H says:

        The study you quoted said, and I quote: “the overall reduction in bites provided by the citronella candles and incense was only 42.3 and 24.2%, respectively.”

        42.3% reduction in bites is not insignificant. It’s not as effective as I thought/expected it would be, but cutting something nearly in half is not “insignificantly” reducing it.

        • Robert Pavlis says:

          I don’t believe the study looked at incense? Your conclusion is correct. How significant is it–I guess that is a judgement call. Reducing bites by half still means a lot of bites and you only need one bite from the wrong mosquito to catch a disease.

      • James Verdi says:

        “have always noticed that when we got good and smoky around a camp fire, we were less attacked by mosquitoes.”

        Interesting that you provide anecdotal story and dismiss others as not scientific. While I favor scientific evidence I don’t think one should close their minds to the idea that a scientific study can be poorly designed or exaggerate its application.

        For example, if a citronella candle or intense burns for an hour is it more effective than if it burns 5 minutes? What if conditions are windy? Under what conditions provided 40% reduction?

  44. J. Santana says:

    I don’t agree with these findings. We have two grandkids that mosquitoes love. When they come to visit in the AM the mosquitoes would fly in queue to get a taste of their delicious young blood. We started using the citronella candles, about 1/2 hour before the kids arrive, and the mosquitoes are gone. I don’t know if its the smoke or the actual citronella smell that made then scram but they are gone.

    • Robert Pavlis says:

      Unfortunately, such anecdotal evidence does not change the scientific facts. The data I present in this blog is based on scientific research done with proper controls. The reference I added does show some effectiveness of citronella candles, but certainly not complete control.

    • dale says:

      The proof is in the pudding!

  45. Clint says:

    I live in south Louisiana and hunt / fish in the swamps and marshes. The best thing that I have found to work against the bites is Avon Skin So Soft. I don’t use it much while hunting because of the scent it puts off, but fishing or working in the garden is great to keep the blood suckered off of you.
    For patio areas, I found that burning pinion wood in a pit is about the best.

    • Mark says:

      Where do we get “pinion wood”? I live in south florida & we are plagued with skeeters!

      • Robert Pavlis says:

        If you Google you will find quite a few suppliers. Lowes seems to sell a brand of pinion wood.

        I also looked for someone who has tested pinion wood for combating mosquitoes, but did not find a reference. As it burns it does give off smoke, as well as a pine-smell; both of which work as weak mosquito repellants, so I suspect pinion wood works to some extent. Is it better than other kinds of wood?? I’ll keep looking for a reference.

  46. Qua Le says:

    How do you take care of the plants in winter, do they come back in spring? Do they live all year round?

  47. Lili says:

    Deet is not safe

    If the research you refer to is so plentiful, it would be easy to cite.

    • Robert Pavlis says:

      I never said DEET is safe.

      What I said is “One way to measure toxicity is to measure the LD 50, in this case the LD 50 on rabbit skin. It turns out citronella oil has a value (2000 mg/Kg) that is 2 times lower than DEET (4280 mg/Kg). That means DEET is less toxic than citronella oil, to the skin of rabbits. A value of 2000mg/Kg is a very high number which means booth products are quite safe.” I provided the references for the values in the post.

      The FDA considers DEET to be a safe product:

    • Duday says:

      I live in mosquito country. Seriously it’s a way of life here abd with 2 kids, i’m always in fear if both mosquitos and DEET. Been using inswct repelent with active ingredient called PICARDIN , as effective as the DEET option and less harmful.

      • Robert Pavlis says:

        Picardin is certainly a good alternative, however, you might be overly concerned about DEET. According to medical Daily, DEET is considered safe by many public health authorities and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and WHO. Picardin is just as effective as DEET, does not seem to have health concerns, but it has not been tested in the field for nearly as long as DEET.

  48. Often Bitten says:

    Robert I for one, wish to thank you for your diligence in research and desire to educate by sharing your findings. I don’t all at mind checking behind you and must say… your findings are quite credible. You have in my opinion, shown humor regarding those who wish to purchase dragonflies as well as grace to those skeptics who’ve failed to do their own research… I am what is known as a host(ess) for most insects and DEET is the way I get through life. Thanks…

  49. Superman says:

    Good read. But the burning question is does anyone know the most effective way to keep the blood sucking pests away from ones yard and patio safely?

    • Robert Pavlis says:

      Good Question. I think it is really two questions; how do you keep them away from your yard, and secondly is a working method safe?

      I don’t think there is a good way to keep mosquitoes away, short of enclosing the area. Mosquito machines and light zappers don’t work well. Any kind of spray, candles, etc that puts something in the air gets blown away by the wind. Deet, applied to skin is still the most effective option.

      Is Deet safe? I have not done extensive research on this question, but it is considered a relatively safe product. I think it is as safe as many of our home cleaners–my opinion. I spend most days in the garden, and when the bugs are really bad I use it. I use the liquid rather than the spray, since most of the spray is lost and sprays are not good for the environment.

  50. Keshawn says:

    There have been controlled studies in the use of lemon grass oil as a repellent for stable flies and Mosquitos and the results conclude that lemon grass oil is an effective repellent against the pests

    • Robert Pavlis says:

      By ‘lemon grass oil’ I assume you are referring to citronella oil since lemon grass is the common name of the plant used to extract the oil. As the post says, research in North America does confirm it works, but reports from Europe disprove these findings. In science a fact is not a fact unless the research can be repeated.
      The following reference was done in the field and does show some relief from mosquitoes by reducing the number of bites in half. Subjects got more than 1 bite a minute using citronella candles vs 2 without. Not nearly as effective as Deet.

      As a lotion some studies have shown greater protection:

      If you have references to newer studies, they would be of interest.

  51. Penny H says:

    Born in mosiquito counrty the most natural way to control these blood suckers is with Dragon flyies.

    • Tammy says:

      Can you purchase dragon flies? I love them and if they eat mosquitoes … even better!

      • Robert Pavlis says:

        I have never seen dragon flies for sale. Even if you could buy them, they would not stay on your property. Just like other insect such as lady bugs, they fly away fairly quickly. Buying beneficial insects only works in closed quarters like a greenhouse.

        • Rob Lepper says:

          Not entirely true. Predators will stay in an area until the prey falls below a level that will sustain them. You are right though about dragon flies – they are just too mobile, and can cover a large distance in a short time. Ladybugs are better, but still able to move quite a distance in a short time, however there are other species – for instance parasitic wasps – that are very small (1/2 mm long), and because of their size, don’t move large distances quickly (unless there is a breeze blowing!!!!)

  52. John says:

    nice to have all the facts about things that don’t repel mosquitos how about coming up with a solution

  53. Marie Lunt says:

    Wow a great read..thanks. I live in Australia and have ‘mossies’ but since a few years of drought, I haven’t noticed any…I make sure that all my yard is free from little bits of water..for eg. spouts, pot plant saucers and so on…
    Regarding the bite I’ve heard honey is the best…just a wee dob or you’ll have it everywhere…and gawd knows what else it’ll attract. Cheers.

  54. DEET – both safe and effective.

  55. Justin says:

    Safe in what sense? As an individual whose career is guided by pharmaceuticals, I can say leaning on the cdc for determining what is safe or not is not always the wisest choice. I see human safety has been covered in these comments (I don’t fully agree, since studies show it to be safe ince, not in another) the more pressing issue is the growing concentration of deet in water supplies (like the pharmas in water creating hermaphroditic mutations in some species), which is ironic because you think this would slow the spawning of mosquito larva. Most studies on this relate back to European waters, and for some more info I suggest a scholar search of deets impact on environment (I have no links on hand, my apologies). Safe, like many terms, is relative to how it is applied to the subject at hand.

  56. DEET is safe from the point of view that it has been used for many years and the scientific community has not found detrimental effects from it’s use when used properly.

    DEET keeps mosquitoes from landing on you – so they don’t bite. It is not logical to think that DEET in ponds would keep larvae from growing. In fact if, and I say if since I don’t agree with this, ponds had high levels of DEET in them and the mosquitoes still breed in the water it shows that DEET is not harmful to them. So in some ways you have just contradicted yourself. However chemicals can be safe for insects and harmful to humans.

    I have not seen reports of DEET being a problem in water. Considering the fact that people use very small amounts I would be surprised if this is true. Here is one report showing levels are very low,d.aWw&cad=rjt

  1. […] Citronella plant retains mosquitoes away – garden myths Description: Citronella plant keeps mosquitoes away – a gardening fantasy you must recognize extra about. visit for extra gardening myths. PDF File name: Citronella plant retains mosquitoes away – garden myths PDF supply: download PDF: Citronella plant retains mosquitoes away – backyard myths […]