7 Best Natural Mosquito Repellents

Mosquito repellent can sometimes do its job in protecting us; but we’re either completely turned off because it leaves a sticky or greasy residue on us, or because of the harmful chemicals that they are made of.

Nonetheless, I know how you feel, and it’s time for a healthy change in how we protect ourselves from harmful mosquitos.

In this article, I’ll be sharing natural alternative mosquito repellent with you.

1. Lemon Eucalyptus

Corymbia citriodora (Myrtaceae) is the technical name for “Lemon Eucalyptus”. It’s derived from the leaves of a Lemon Eucalyptus tree, and has been used in traditional chinese medicine since the 1960s. 

Lemon Eucalyptus is comprised of 85% citronellal, which is one of its most active ingredients. However, the active ingredients may smell nice, but due to its high volatility, it fades out usually within several minutes to one hour tops.

But the eucalyptus leave’s other significant component para-menthane 3, 8 diol, or PMD does not. It has a much lower vapor pressure, which means that it will last for hours instead of minutes!

What makes it so potent is the PMD within the Lemon Eucalyptus leaf being completely stripped during a hydro-distillation period, which slowly releases a slow-moving and potent vapor that reduces short-distance attraction cues that come from your body, like heat and certain acids from your sweat.

PMD is one of the only plant-best alternatives that is supported by the Center for Disease Control for protection against vector diseased animals, like mosquitos.

2. Peppermint

That sweet, yet puget stench of peppermint is a long-lived smell that does more than fill up the purses of elderly women. Mentha piperita (M. piperita), or peppermint leaves, have high concentrations of  menthone and menthyl esters, which are active components of peppermint oil. 

How it works is by the oil being removed from the leaves during a distillation process, and then extracting the menthol properties. 

Once the distillation process is finished, the menthol components are isolated to achieve its highest potency and strength against mosquitos, without interference from the other properties. 

Menthone and menthyl esters have the ability to radiate outwards a couple of feet, and disturb the chemoreceptors that are inside of the mosquitos antennas. Thankfully, a 2011 case study have shown that the effects of peppermint as a natural mosquito repellant can last up to 150 minutes!

Peppermint’s bioefficacy has shown to be highly effective against mosquitoes like Aedes aegypti that cause such diseases as dengue fever. 

3. Basil

Yes, it will make a great topping for your next meal, but did you know that basil (Ocimum basilicum) makes for a pretty good natural mosquito repellant? Its signature aroma is toxic to mosquito larvae, as well as some types of adult mosquitos. 

Fact: the best location for a basil plant is near a bed of standing water to keep mosquitos from laying their eggs.

So what is it that turns a common household seasoning into a potent, natural mosquito repellant? 

Well, it comes down to four mosquito-deflecting properties that are within the leaf: estragole, citronellal, limonene and nerolidol. These are plant chemicals that affect scent levels of the leaves.

Predominantly, estragole is the top component in this protective battle. It’s a type of phytochemical that  does not only helps repair damaged cells, but also radiates a strong scent that negatively interacts with the mosquitos sense of smell, thus, detering the mosquito away.

Basil tends to be a promising natural mosquito repellent because of those factors. 

A study shows that the phytocompents of the plant itself has the ability to fend off 40% free-flying mosquitos. Keep this in mind while you’re planning your next backyard kickback, or outdoor summer adventure.

4. Garlic

Now we all know that garlic is a strong scent that give flavor to just about any dish; the downside of it is that it creates a funky smell that we have yet to become acquired, and neither have mosquitos, which is what makes it such a great choice for a natural repellent.

Garlic, Allium sativum, is a simple, yet intricate plant that aids in the deflection of mosquitos. Within garlic, there are oils that are sulfuric-based; and if you don’t know, sulfur is the basis for the stinky smell of flatulence and rotten eggs. 

That sulfuric scent is called allicin, and it does a great job in masking the scent of lactic acid and carbon dioxide, which is how mosquitos are able to find you. 

Luckily, the odor is usually too potent for the average mosquito, and within direct contact with it, it will become confused and severely distracted, and their chemo-sensored antennas will lead them to much softer and sweeter smells. 

Also, there seems to be a debate on whether or not the garlic should be sprayed as a solution, or eaten raw so it can diffuse through the pores of the skin. My suggestion: use a garlic-based solution and simply rub it on.

5. Catnip

Catnip has very high popularity in the mosquito repellent arena because it works so well. Not only does it drive small and big cats completely insane, it also has been shown that catnip can repel mosquitos ten times better than the average DEET-based insecticide. 

But why, and how does it work? 

The central phytochemical that catnip contains is called nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is an organic compound, and it’s from the same plant family as mint; and like mint, nepetalactone creates a pungent scent that will either attract or, in our case, repel bugs. 

Catnip has the power to not just reflect fever-causing mosquitos like Aedes aegypti, but various other types of mosquitos and bugs

It’s considered stronger than the average mosquito repellent because it takes one-tenth as much nepetalactone, to a saturated mix of DEET, to get the same affect. In essence, by using more nepetalactone, you’ll receive more protection from our annoying little friends!

Catnip can repel mosquitos either by the nepetalactone connecting and disrupting their brain, or by the smell of it being so strong that the mosquito becomes anguished, and flies away from that area; however, the science is indeterminate, and the verdict is still out on which reason it is.

6. Marigold

Calendula officinalis, or Marigold, is an aesthetically pleasing flower that will fill your backyard with beauty and fragrance; and it will also use that fragrance to ward off many types of bugs and insects, like mosquitoes.

Marigold is a studied flower that has stood the test of being locally effective to fight off a small invasion of mosquitos due to its particular nose-binding scent. The phyto-mechanisms in Marigold that causes such strength is Pyrethrum and Thiophenes.

First, Pyrethrum is an organic compound within Marigold that is not only potent, but deadly as well. It can be used as a natural insecticide both indoors and outdoors, or wherever the mosquitos like to feast on you.

Second, Thiophenes is a volatile chemical found in Marigold that has the same capabilities as pyrethrum; think of them as cousins. Thiophenes have a fatal mechanism within them as well, and has been proven to kill off larvae and adult species of Aedes aegypti.

What makes these chemical worth mentioning is that they negatively interacts with the central nervous system of insects, and eventually kills them when in direct contact. Mosquitos use their chemical-sensing antennas to sniff this scent out, and instantly turn away in order to save their own life.

7. Lemon Grass

As one of the top essential oils for repelling mosquitos and other insects, lemongrass continues to excel as an insect-deterrent soldier. Lemon grass is even effective enough to be registered with the Food and Drug Administration as safe, when properly used.

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus) is effective because it acts as a stimulus for antennal olfactory receptor cells that are found in mosquitos, and has a very high concentration of citral, which is a popular chemical component that is used in both natural and synthetic mosquito repellents. 

Because of this component, lemongrass does a magnificent job at covering up the scent of carbon dioxide. Carbon-dioxide is key to a mosquito finding you, and also finding the right blood vessel to puncture and suck from; without it, it’s lost, which it what we want!

So since the mosquito won’t smell the scent that it needs in order to obtain its blood meal, it will seek the odor elsewhere, and leave you in peace. Now, I’ll note that although it is an effective alternative repellent, for maximum satisfaction, use it as a short-term and localized remedy.

There are many ways to use lemongrass to deflect mosquitos such as a whole plant, candles, inscent, or even organically produced sprays.

Final Thoughts

Mosquitos are constantly on our tail trying to siphon us of our rich liquid life force; but not anymore because you know the best and qualitative choices for natural alternative mosquito repellents. 

When you are at your next barbeque, or simply enjoying a moment on your porch, try out one of these organic remedies so you can avoid a nasty bite.

And if the natural remedies aren’t working out for you, you can see our guides on some commercial products here:

Timothy Collins
Timothy Collins
T.J. is an avid naturalist and writer. He's a major fan of nature, and uses his skills to provide interesting information about the critters that reside in it.

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