Do Citronella Candles Keep Mosquitoes Away?
Citronella has been known for its mosquito-repelling properties for decades, but how effective is it really? Citronella oil is used in sprays, lotions, and candles, and while it does work in short bursts, it’s not a long-term solution by any means. Studies show that the oil from a citronella candle may be effective in warding off mosquitoes for one to two hours.
If you come to regularly rely on citronella without addressing the root source, you’re giving mosquito populations a chance to boom, ultimately worsening the problem on your property.
Is citronella a mosquito repellent?
Citronella oil is a yellowish oil derived from leaves and grass. It has a strong grassy, citrus, or floral scent, which helps to repel insects like mosquitoes that rely on their scent to locate people. That’s how citronella works: it’s not that mosquitoes detest the smell, but rather, it masks your smell so it’s harder to find you.
Citronella oil is also sometimes used as perfume, as a food additive, to promote wound healing, and even as an antifungal agent.
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Can citronella candles reliably keep mosquitos away?
Mosquitoes use scent to locate people to feed on. A strong scent like citronella in the air makes it difficult for them to smell anything else.
Research has shown that citronella oil, when combined with vanillin, can provide mosquito protection for three hours. When combined with DEET, a citronella product can protect you for over six hours. However, citronella candles alone have mixed results. They may provide some initial benefit, but it will quickly wear off.
Should I plant citronella to prevent mosquitoes?
Citronella plants, typically sold as lemon-scented geraniums, do not repel mosquitoes. You need the oil in the leaves, and to do that, the leaves must be crushed or rubbed to extract the oil.
While citronella candles may work in a pinch, if you really want to repel mosquitoes, there are other much more effective tools we recommend.