Citronella candles have long been considered a summertime standby for keeping mosquitoes at bay. The idea behind these candles is that the melting wax will release a citronella scent, which will supposedly mask smells that attract mosquitoes. Another theory is that the scent of the citronella oil will repel mosquitoes.
But do these theories hold any water? Research says otherwise.
Do Citronella Candles Work?
So far, there have been no conclusive studies that show citronella candles effectively repel mosquitoes.
Here are a couple of things we do know based on research:
- The oil of the citronella plant (a type of lemongrass) does possess naturally occurring mosquito repellent properties. However, if applied to the body as a mosquito repellent, it must be reapplied frequently to remain effective and is not nearly as effective as DEET.
- When the oil is used for candles, the concentration of it released into the air is not heavy enough to repel mosquitoes.
So, should you stop buying citronella candles? Not necessarily: if you enjoy the scent and don’t expect them to be anything more than a decoration, these candles can be a charming addition to your patio or other outdoor areas. If you want to keep mosquitoes away, then keep reading!
What Will Actually Keep Mosquitoes Away?
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to effectively repel mosquitoes so that you can enjoy your time outdoors.
- Wear mosquito repellent that contains one or more of these ingredients recommended by the CDC: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. If you would like a botanical alternative, opt for a repellent containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE).
- Use outdoor fans on your patio, balcony, etc. Mosquitoes have a hard time flying against the “wind” that a fan creates. Also, mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide. Fans help disperse the carbon dioxide you breathe out, which makes it harder for mosquitoes to find you.
- Avoid wearing dark colors or black. These shades tend to trap more heat and carbon dioxide, making you a more likely target for a hungry mosquito.
- Avoid wearing perfume or cologne around dusk or dawn. Mosquitoes are most active around those times, and they’ll be drawn to the scent.
Remember: it’s also essential to keep your yard free of standing water and drainage issues to avoid attracting mosquitoes to your property in the first place!