Anyone loves to enjoy the outdoors, but those tiny, slender long-legged and black insects can’t just let us be. Yes, mosquitoes could be really so annoying. It can cause nuisance problems for us at home and ruin our recreational activities such as hunting and outdoor sports. With their whining buzz and insatiable quest for fresh blood, these bloodsuckers can drive you crazy!
They can also pose a health risk. Mosquitoes could be a source of various diseases, which may be very fatal to people. It is important then to safeguard ourselves from these tiny flying insects. If you want to enjoy grilling outdoors, you must keep these mosquitoes under control or they will feast on you. Good thing is, mosquitoes can be repelled using essential oils.
Top 10 Mosquito Repellent Essential Oils
Catnip Essential Oil
Catnip essential oil is a bit pricey but it is said to work well against mosquitoes. Several research projects have shown catnip is a deterrent to mosquitoes and some biting flies as well as deer ticks. Researchers report that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET — the compound used in most commercial insect repellents (1). In addition, catnip essential oil is also said to have the ability to repel flies, cockroaches, termites, dust mites and deer ticks and is being suggested as an organic pesticide for peach orchards and potato fields (2).
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood essential oil is insecticidal, antiseptic, and anti-spasmodic. This oil can blend with other oils to repel pests with a carrier oil and apply it to treat bites. This oil is distilled from the wood of the cedar tree and is used as an insect repellent. It has been found to be very effective against malarial mosquitoes (3).
Citronella Essential Oil
Citronella is an oil obtained from the leaves and stems of different species of lemongrass. Citronella oil is one of the most widely used natural insect repellents. This oil can be found in a variety of mosquito repelling products such as scented candles, lotions, sprays, and even wristbands, collars, and many other products. Citronella oil can be applied to the skin for use as a mosquito repellent unless one is allergic to it (4). The mosquito repelling properties of these plants ensures that the mosquitoes are irritated with the smell of the oil and do not come near us (5).
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage essential oil can terrorize the tiger mosquitoes. This essential oil can do more than giving off a floral scent for improving mood. Clary sage oil, when blended with a carrier oil and applied to the skin, is a great essential oil that may protect us against mosquitoes. It can also be used to discourage mosquitoes from entering a room or space by simply placing it into a diffuser (6).
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil has up to 25 percent linalool, a terpenoid alcohol that contributes to its fruity fragrance. This agent is an active ingredient in more than a dozen registered products used to control mosquitoes outside, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (7). According to studies, the linalool has the same effect on mosquito olfactory receptors as diethyltoluamide, a chemical used in many conventional mosquito repellents more commonly known as DEET (8). A 2009 study published in the Journal of Vector Ecology reveals that the use of linalool diffusers had a mosquito repellency rate of 93 percent indoors and 58 percent outdoors (9).
Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is one of the more well-known natural repellents present today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have approved eucalyptus oil as an effective ingredient in mosquito repellent (10). It has a powerful smell that interferes with mosquitoes’ delicate senses and can make it difficult for them to locate their food sources. In addition, this oil also repels other insects such as ticks, midges and sandflies. In fact, the presence of the plant itself will work as a repellent in the yard and can also be applied directly to the skin as well, but should be applied regularly for optimum protection (11).
Peppermint Essential Oil
Minty fragrances are unpleasant to a mosquito’s keen senses (12). In fact, the peppermint plants’ presence alone ward off these pesky flying insects to some degree. This essential oil is studied and found to be almost 100% effective against mosquito larvae. However, the oil is phototoxic which means that it will irritate the skin if applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight (13). Hence, the oil should be used as a spray or diffused in a space for the repelling of mosquitoes (14).
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a popular essential oil from Australia known for its antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies suggest that tea tree oil may be an effective insect repellent. Field testing shows that repellents containing tea tree oil are effective against mosquitoes, bush flies, and biting midges (15). A 2016 study reveals that the tea tree oil extracts contain insecticide and repellant qualities due to its compound, 1,8-cineole, which is found at low concentrations of its essential oil form (16). It suggests that tea tree oil has toxic effects on certain species of beetles and ants, pointing to its potential potency (17).
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil contains two compounds, namely: carvacrol and alpha-terpinene. These compounds have significant repellency characteristics. Certain concentrations are more effective against particular mosquito species, but most topical applications offer at least 89 percent efficacy for about an hour. It may irritate the skin so this oil must be diluted (18). A study published in the journal PLoS One reveals that the essential oil had a repellent, irritating and toxic effect on mosquitoes while another study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology shows that a mixture of 50 percent thyme oil and 50 percent clove oil repelled mosquitoes for up to 2.5 hours (19).
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary is a popular seasoning for many dishes and helps keep several insects away from you and your vegetables. The rosemary plant (Rosemaryinus officinalis) is effective in several forms on its own as a mosquito repellent. For repellent purposes, the live plant, cuttings from the plant and rosemary essential oil are all effective at repelling mosquitoes (20).
These essential oils can be our weapons against mosquitoes. They are natural we can use to keep these bloodsuckers under control. But most of these oils only repel mosquitoes, not kill them. It is important to understand that the best way to keep mosquitoes away for good is to avoid keeping standing water outside for it may be a breeding ground for many insects.