14 Natural Scents That Repel Mosquitoes: A Buzz-Free Summer Awaits

As the warm weather approaches, those pesky mosquitoes start making their unwelcome return. While chemical repellents like DEET can be effective, many of us prefer to explore more natural alternatives.

I’ve scoured the research and compiled a comprehensive guide to 14 natural scents that can help keep those blood-sucking pests at bay. Get ready to embrace the great outdoors without sacrificing your sanity (or skin) to mosquito bites.

So, What Smells Do Mosquitoes Hate?

Mosquitoes are repelled by certain natural scents, making them excellent repellents. Scents like citronella, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, tea tree oil, basil, and garlic are particularly effective. Using these in oils or candles, or planting them, can help keep mosquitoes away. I’ll go over all 14 effective scents in detail next.

1. Lavender: A Floral Fortress

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There’s something undeniably soothing about the floral aroma of lavender. It’s a scent that can instantly transport you to a tranquil meadow – unless you’re a mosquito, that is. These pesky insects find the fragrance utterly repulsive, making lavender a valuable ally in your mosquito-repelling plant arsenal.

Whether you opt for lavender plants strategically placed around your outdoor spaces or lavender-infused candles and oils, you’ll be creating a floral fortress that keeps those blood-suckers at bay. Plus, the calming scent is an added bonus for us humans.

2. Rosemary: A Woodsy Warrior

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Ah, rosemary – the herb that adds depth and flavor to your favorite dishes. Little did you know, it’s also a formidable ally in the battle against mosquitoes. The fresh, woodsy scent that we find so appealing is a major turn-off for these blood-seeking pests.

Crushing a few rosemary leaves and rubbing them onto your skin can create a natural barrier, or you can strategically plant rosemary bushes around your outdoor spaces. Not only will it keep the mosquitoes at bay, but it’ll also add a lovely fragrance to your backyard oasis.

3. Lemon Balm: A Zesty Deterrent

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Part of the mint family, lemon balm packs a powerful punch with its strong lemon scent. Mosquitoes, it seems, are not fans of this zesty aroma. Crushing the leaves releases the essential oils that create an invisible forcefield against these unwanted guests.

Personally, I love adding lemon balm to my homemade mosquito repellent sprays. It’s a refreshing twist on the traditional citronella scent, and it’s incredibly easy to grow in your garden or even in a pot on your patio.

4. Citronella: The Classic Mosquito Repellent

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This lemon-scented oil, derived from lemongrass, is a staple in many mosquito-repelling candles and products. Personally, I find the herbal lemon fragrance quite refreshing, but mosquitoes? They can’t stand it. Lighting a few citronella candles around your outdoor gathering can create an invisible force field against those pesky insects.

But why stop there? You can also make your own citronella-infused sprays or lotions for an added layer of protection. Just be sure to reapply regularly, as the effects tend to wear off after a few hours.

5. Peppermint: A Minty Mosquito Menace

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There’s something incredibly invigorating about the minty aroma of peppermint. It’s a scent that can instantly refresh and energize – unless you’re a mosquito, that is. To these insects, the minty smell is nothing short of irritating, making peppermint a powerful ally in your mosquito-repelling efforts.

Whether you opt for peppermint plants strategically placed around your outdoor spaces or peppermint oil applied to your skin, you’ll be creating an invisible barrier that keeps those blood-suckers at bay.

Plus, who doesn’t love a hint of minty freshness on a warm summer day?

6. Marigolds: A Pungent Protector

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Marigolds may be a beloved addition to many gardens, but their pungent scent is a major deterrent for mosquitoes. These vibrant flowers give off an aroma that mosquitoes simply can’t stand, making them an excellent natural repellent.

Planting marigolds around your outdoor seating areas or placing vases of these flowers on your patio can create an invisible barrier against those pesky insects. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a pop of color in their outdoor spaces?

7. Basil: An Aromatic Ally

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Basil is a culinary staple that adds depth and flavor to countless dishes, but did you know it can also help keep mosquitoes at bay? The essential oils in basil leaves emit a strong aroma that these pesky insects find utterly unpleasant.

Personally, I love making homemade mosquito repellent sprays using fresh basil from my garden. It’s a natural and aromatic way to keep those blood-suckers at a safe distance. Plus, you can always use any leftover basil to whip up a delicious pesto or caprese salad – talk about a win-win!

8. Catnip: Not Just for Feline Friends

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Catnip may be beloved by our feline companions, but did you know it can also be a powerful ally in the fight against mosquitoes? The essential oil in catnip, known as nepetalactone, has been found to be a whopping 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET – the active ingredient in many commercial repellents (ref).

You can grow catnip in your garden or apply the oil topically for a natural, feline-approved way to keep those pesky insects at bay. Just be prepared for your furry friends to take an extra interest in your outdoor spaces!

9. Eucalyptus: A Powerful Deterrent

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There’s something undeniably invigorating about the scent of eucalyptus. It’s a powerful aroma that can instantly transport you to a lush, rejuvenating forest. But for mosquitoes, this scent is nothing short of repulsive.

The powerful scent of eucalyptus interferes with a mosquito’s ability to locate potential hosts (that’s us, folks). Whether you opt for eucalyptus plants, candles, or body products containing this essential oil, you’ll be creating an invisible barrier that keeps those blood-suckers at bay.

10. Tea Tree Oil: A Potent Protector

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Tea tree oil is a versatile essential oil with a wide range of uses, from skincare to household cleaning. But did you know it can also be a potent protector against mosquitoes? This oil has both insecticidal and repellent properties, making it a formidable ally in your mosquito-fighting arsenal.

Mixing a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil and applying it to your skin can provide a natural barrier against those blood-seeking pests. Just be sure to do a patch test first, as some individuals may have sensitivities to this potent oil.

11. Lemongrass: A Citrusy Safeguard

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Lemongrass is a versatile herb that adds a zesty, citrusy flavor to countless dishes – but it’s also a powerful mosquito repellent. Two major compounds found in lemongrass oil, citral and geraniol, are known to be highly effective at repelling these pesky insects.

You can plant lemongrass around your outdoor spaces or dilute the essential oil and apply it to your skin for a natural, citrusy barrier against mosquitoes. Just be sure to reapply regularly, as the effects tend to wear off after a few hours.

12. Cinnamon Oil: A Spicy Surprise

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Cinnamon is a warm, comforting spice that adds depth and flavor to countless dishes – but did you know it can also be a powerful mosquito repellent? One study found that cinnamon oil can provide a increase protection against mosquitoes for up to 120 minutes (ref).

The strong, spicy aroma of cinnamon oil is thought to mask the human scent that attracts mosquitoes, making it an effective natural repellent. Just be sure to dilute the oil before applying it to your skin, as cinnamon can be quite potent.

13. Vanilla Extract: A Sweet Deterrent

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Vanilla is a beloved flavor that adds warmth and richness to countless desserts and baked goods. But did you know it can also be a sweet deterrent against mosquitoes? Mixing vanilla extract with water or olive oil and applying it to your skin has been shown to repel not only mosquitoes but other biting insects as well.

Personally, I love the idea of smelling like a freshly baked cookie while enjoying the great outdoors – and keeping those pesky mosquitoes at bay is just an added bonus!

14. Lemon & Clove: A Powerful Duo

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Last but not least, we have the dynamic duo of lemon and clove. When combined with coconut oil, this potent mixture has been shown to provide over 90% protection against mosquitoes in various studies (ref).

The citrusy aroma of lemon paired with the warm, spicy notes of clove create a scent that mosquitoes simply can’t stand. Plus, the addition of coconut oil helps the mixture adhere to your skin, providing longer-lasting protection against those blood-seeking pests.

Sources:

  1. Kweka, E. J., Munga, S., Himeidan, Y., Mwaimu, G., Mahande, A. M., Msangi, S., … & Govere, J. (2018). Mosquito repellent plants: A prospective source of affordable repellents for malaria endemic communities. Malaria Journal, 17(1), 1-9.
  2. Maia, M. F., & Moore, S. J. (2011). Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing. Malaria Journal, 10(1), 1-15.
  3. Xu, P., Choo, Y. M., De La Rosa, A., & Leal, W. S. (2022). Comparative efficacy of commercial mosquito repellents against Aedes aegypti. Insects, 13(5), 451.
  4. Pavela, R. (2023). Repellent activity of essential oils against Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Industrial Crops and Products, 194, 115164.
  5. Future Market Insights. (2023). Natural Insect Repellent Market Outlook (2023-2033). Retrieved from https://www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/natural-insect-repellent-market
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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.