Do Citronella Candles Keep Mosquitoes Away?

For decades, citronella was thought to be a cure-all for mosquito problems. The oil derived from citronella plants can be repurposed in many ways, from sprays and lotions to traps and candles. But exactly how effective is citronella for repelling mosquitoes?

If you light a citronella candle outdoors this summer, it is true that the burning oil may aid in repelling mosquitoes and other bugs. However, any effectiveness is fleeting. More recent research has indicated that citronella candles may only be an effective solution for a few hours.

Do Citronella Candles Keep Mosquitoes Away in Illinois and Indiana; Anderson Pest Solutions

What is Citronella Oil?

Citronella is a natural oil that is extracted from leaves and grass. Citronella oil can be distinguished by its characteristic yellow/brown color and its grassy, floral scent. Citronella is used for many purposes: commonly as a natural insect repellent, perfume, a food additive, a wound healing treatment, and even as an antifungal agent. Citronella candles have become a popular solution to repelling many kinds of insects in addition to mosquitoes.

Are Citronella Candles a Scam?

As a repellent, citronella oil finds its use by masking the scents that usually attract insects. While citronella oil can make it difficult for mosquitoes to locate you, just how effective is citronella in keeping mosquitoes away for sustained periods of time? Research has shown that citronella oil, when combined with vanillin, can protect people from mosquitoes for three hours. When combined with DEET, a citronella product can protect you for six hours or more. However, on their own, citronella candles have been found to give an insufficient amount of protection against mosquitoes. After burning for just a couple of hours, the candle starts to lose its power.

Do Citronella Plants Repel Mosquitoes?

Citronella plants, typically sold as lemon-scented geraniums, will not repel mosquitoes. It is the extracted oil found within the leaves that contains the properties needed to keep insects away. The leaves must be crushed or rubbed to extract the oil. If you want to ensure that mosquitoes keep away from your yard, it’s best to seek out the advice of your local mosquito control experts!