5 scents that deter mosquitoes: natural odors these pesky pests hate

We are amid the season of the mosquito – summer’s most unwanted pest – that has a tendency to accompany your al fresco dinner parties and afternoons in the garden.

And while knowing how to get rid of mosquitoes is important for preventing an irritating itch (or sometimes worse), the process rarely feels like a joy. Some of the most impactful prevention methods involve tedious tidying routines and pesticide sprays that are among the less pleasant sides of summer. However, not all mosquito prevention tactics need to feel like a chore.

Instead, experts suggest investing in aromatic flowers and oils that deter the pest from your home and garden whilst filling your space with sweet scents and (in some cases) vibrant color. These are the five mosquito repellent plants, oils, and foods that make repelling mosquitos more pleasurable. 

5 scents that deter mosquitoes – for an aromatic, therapeutic summer

You may know about the colors that attract or repel mosquitoes, but what about the impact of scent? 

‘Mosquitos don’t like certain smells, such as lavender, citronella, or eucalyptus. These smells deter mosquitoes because they produce chemicals that mosquitoes don’t like – namely linalool and geraniol,’ says Melanie Rose, a pest specialist at Nationwide Pest Control. This is why you often find these scents in soaps and candles that are used to keep bugs away from your home. 

Here are the top scents to invest in this summer. 

1. Grapefruit

Sliced grapefruit on a wooden table

(Image credit: GettyImages)

‘Grapefruit is a refreshing summertime treat packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. But when it comes to repelling mosquitoes, a compound called nootkatone is a hero,’ explains Scot Hodges, the vice president of professional development for Arrow Exterminators (opens in new tab)

You can use the nootkatone in your grapefruit to deter misquotes from your home or garden, but it’s even more than a pest deterrent. ‘Not only can you snack on grapefruit, but you can use grapefruit oil on your skin, too,’ Scot adds. 

2. Lemongrass 


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lemongrass contains citronella oil – perhaps the most famous of mosquito repellent scents. But how can you introduce this plant into your scheme? You can start by knowing how to grow lemongrass in your garden, or, for a delectable solution, you can bring the kitchen.

‘Swap your summer glass of lemonade for a chilled glass of lemongrass tea, or carefully use lemongrass oil on your skin for a quick mosquito repellent,’ Scott suggests. 

3. Lavender 

lavender in sussex

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Lavender is one of the most famous mosquito repellents, but it’s easy to see its appeal. Melanie explains that, while the pest dislikes its distinctive scent, the same smell has a calming effect on humans – which is why it’s often used as an essential oil for aromatherapy and meditation. 

Knowing how to grow lavender in your yard or arranging it in a vase is one way to keep mosquitoes at bay. Or you can choose one of the best candles on the market, many of which are infused with this powerful scent.

4. Pine oil 

Bottle of pine oil on a wooden table

(Image credit: GettyImages)

With its pleasantly woody aroma, it can be hard not to take joy in pine oil. However, while this scent will always have a place amongst the best-selling essential oils, it should have an equal spot amid your summer decor ideas, too. 

Zackary DeAngelis from Pest Pointers LLC (opens in new tab) explains that the scent of the pine oil ‘will overpower and confuse a mosquito’s senses, limiting its ability to detect you’ and keeping you safe from bites. 

‘To use pine oil as a mosquito repellent, one great way is to place rags with pine oil outside of your windows, porch, or doors,’ the expert suggests. ‘You’ll have to refresh the rags every few days, but you could also use this method specifically on days where you’re more likely to have mosquitoes for easier application.’

5. Chili peppers

Chilli plants

(Image credit: Future/Camilla Reynolds)

If you can stand a healthy amount of spice, it may be worth incorporating chilies into your diet, especially over summer when mosquito activity is at a high. ‘These peppers are known to repel mosquitoes thanks to capsaicin, a heat-producing compound that the fly doesn’t like,’ Scot says. 

So, while this kitchen idea is not for every palette, it is worth considering adding a kick to your dishes to keep the pest away. 

What smells do mosquitoes hate?

Mosquitoes hate the smell of lavender, citronella, clove, peppermint, basil, cedarwood, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and rosemary.

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