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Best Natural Mosquito Repellents

Updated on October 9, 2012
coryndia citriodora courtesy of
coryndia citriodora courtesy of

If you prefer to use natural bug repellents rather than chemical or DEET based mosquito sprays, you might like to look at the selection here.

However, it is true to say that 'natural' does not necessarily mean 'safer' as many people are allergic to natural oils.

The US Environmental Potection Agency have only passed 6 mosquito repellent sprays for topical use. Three of them are chemical (DEET, Icaridine and IR3535) and three are plant based and are discussed below.

Please follow the instructions on the label when applying any of the products listed here, as they can be extremely irritating to the eyes, and have caused skin irritations in some sectors of the population, especially children.

Lemon eucalyptus bug repellent

Lemon eucalyptus comes from the corymbia citriodora tree found growing up to 50 metres high in north eastern Australia and in China. It's other names are blue-spotted gum, lemon-scented gum and lemon eucalyptus.

The essential oil obtained from the lemon eucalyptus is citronellal, while its unrefined oil is used in perfumery and insecticides.

These oils are normally obtained from the leaves of this tree and are reportedly widely to be a highly effective alternative to chemical-based insecticide sprays.

Studies have also shown that lemon eucalyptus oils, when added to water containing mosquito larvae, prevent the larvae from emerging as adults, depending on the strength of the oil added.

The active ingredient in lemon eucalyptus is named as PMD (p-menthane-3,8-diol) and is one of only three plant-derived products endorsed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being effective against the West Nile Virus, which is spread by mosquitoes.

The other two named are Citronella and Nepetalactone.

It is also effective against biting flies and gnats.

cymbopogon nardus
cymbopogon nardus


Citronella is another non-chemical natural bug repellent recommended by the EPA for general use.

It is derived from two Asian grass plants, Cymbopogon winterianus and Cymbopogon nardus which are similar to those of the Lemon Grass family.

These plants can become invasive and so are not recommended for home growing.

Like eucalyptus oil, products containing citronella are not recommended for children under 3 years of age in case they give rise to irritation.

However, it is entirely at your discretion if you care to put a small amount on your child for their protection, and observe them carefully for adverse effects. Only some children are irritated by this product.

Citronella when used on the skin needs re-applying frequently, every 30 minutes or so to maintain its effectiveness.

Citronella candles

Mosquito candles are frequently made from citronella that is derived from the lemongrass plant. I have not found them to be of any use whatsoever and believe it to be nothing more than a marketing ploy to get you to buy the citronella candles.

Lemon Grass Mosquito repellent

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus) may have a lot of uses, but it has never proven its effectiveness as a mosquito repellent.

The active ingredients in lemongrass are geraniol and citronellol which are widely used in soaps and household disinfectants because of their antiseptic properties.

Garlic mosquito repellent

Garlic mosquito repellent is widely used for spraying wide areas to keep the population of mosquitos and other insects down.

However, there is no evidence that using a garlic spray on your body will deter mosquitoes, so it would probably be better for you to stick with a DEET-based spray if you are likely to get bitten or have a high incidence of the West Nile Virus in your area.

It will do you no harm to eat garlic so that it seeps through your pores. It may or may not deter mosquitoes (some people swear by this method), but because garlic is good for you in so many other ways you are bound to derive some benefit by doing so.

Unfortunately, it may deter other people from coming close to you.

Catnip mosquito repellent

Catnipis reputed to make a better insecticide than DEET.

This is because it was discovered in 2001 that the active ingredient in catnip, nepetalactone, is actually 10 times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitos.

In 2009, EPA passed a product made by Dupont containing largely nepetalactone derived from the catnip plant, nepeta cataria. This was the first new insect repellent to be registered in 8 years.

If you want to grow your own insecticide, I suggest you look at Growing Catnip from Seed

Hot Off the Press

According to a Spanish television program, to deter mosquitoes put 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Add a handful of cloves and leave for 1 day to soak.

Apply to skin (in evening, as that is when mosquitoes bite most), and apparently mosquitoes stay away as they don't like this mixture.


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    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UK

      The season is back, we need to find protection! I'm simply not going outside after dark and keeping windows closed, and using skin spray if I have to go out, which works well.

    • profile image

      Gayle McLaughlin 

      7 years ago

      Just found your hub. Very good info. I knew about vinegar, but not eucalyptus!

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      Hope somethng above works, Dolores. Insect stings and bites are horrible.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Izzy, it's always best to avoid spraying chemicals all over yourself. With summer coming up, I sure appreciate the suggestions.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 

      8 years ago

      Very intetresting Hub. I appreciate the good information you give here!

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      The mozzies have started in your place too, I take it. God I hate them! They do not seem to have a decent useful function..or maybe someone can enlighten me?

    • theherbivorehippi profile image


      8 years ago from Holly, MI

      Great information and perfect timing!! Thanks!

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      And thank you too, thevoice, for commenting :)

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific fine quality hub read thanks

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      Thanks Kimberley - yes I had to do a lot of research into this one. I like using DEET sprays - it works so why change! Except I would like to use something a bit cheaper, catnip is looking good.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      OK Too Cool

      bookmarked this

      way to go

      you did a ton of work on this and it shows


      Kimberly, thanks


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