How Do Citronella Plants Work: Do They Really Repel Mosquitoes?

How Do Citronella Plants Work: Do They Really Repel Mosquitoes?

July 28, 2023

The main natural mosquito repellent with which most people are familiar is citronella. This plant derivative is available in coils, candles and oils that people use when they want to spend time outside, especially in the evening. Did you know there are citronella plants that work to keep mosquitoes away from your family and pets? Before you rush out to the plant nursery and stock up on citronella plants, the experts at MosquitoNix® can explain how useful this mosquito control strategy is. Here is what you should know about citronella in its many forms and if they work.

What Is a Citronella Plant?

A citronella plant is a type of scented geranium that contains a natural chemical called citronellal that can repel mosquitoes. Citronellal gives this plant its distinctive scent, but the concentration of this chemical is not at a high enough percentage to deter mosquitoes from hanging around your yard. In fact, not every citronella plant has citronellal in its leaves; the "Van Leenii" variety is the one to look for, if you want to give it a go. On the other hand, products like citronella candles, bracelets, sprays and coils at your local garden center contain a more concentrated version of citronella that even a yard full of citronella plants could provide.

What about using citronella directly on your skin? Some mosquito repellents may have citronella, but it can cause skin irritation and rashes. It's also toxic for pets, so going all in on citronella may not be the best strategy.

Here's another little-known fact: the citronella used in these other products doesn't even come from a citronella plant! Most citronella used in commercial mosquito repellents comes from two varieties of lemongrass. Before you add lemongrass to your landscaping layout, consider that other plants, especially certain herbs, can do more to deter mosquitoes than a less effective plant marketed for this purpose.

Plant Varieties That Mosquitoes Avoid

Mosquitoes can be extremely sensitive to fragrances, so using plants to repel them makes sense. Of course, the trick is to know which plants work best. MosquitoNix® has compiled this list to make it easy for you:

  • Lemongrass: Now that you know lemongrass is the main source of commercial source of citronella, you may want to explore it as a plant on your property. It's a low-maintenance plant, but it does not survive frost or extreme cold, so consider using it in a container garden that you can bring indoors when the temperatures are consistently around freezing. Of course, if your climate is warm all year round, you may have luck with lemongrass in your outdoor spaces.
  • Lavender: This drought-resistant plant produces a scent you may know from its relaxing essential oil. Backyard wildlife and flying insects are not fans of the fragrance and will actively avoid this hardy perennial.
  • Rosemary: It's not unusual to see rosemary used in landscaping; its woody, herbal scent is a natural mosquito repellent. Gardeners love this plant because it is easy to shape and doesn't invade like some other herbs. As a bonus, your backyard rosemary is ready to pick and add to cooking or baking recipes!
  • Basil: Need another herbal boost in the kitchen? Basil is a staple in Italian and Thai cooking, but it also keeps mosquitoes and other flying pests away from your yard.
  • Catnip or catmint: Who knew that your pet cat was onto a good thing? Catnip is another natural mosquito repellent that is easy to grow and multitasks by driving your cats wild while it drives away bugs.
  • Marigolds: These vibrant flowering plants add a pop of color to your garden while emitting a fragrance that keeps away mosquitoes and other flying insects. They are easy to grow and give you a lot of bang for your buck!

Other Effective Mosquito Control Methods

To keep mosquitoes out of your yard, you need a comprehensive plan. Sticking to mosquito-repellent plants can help, but they may not be enough to prevent mosquitoes from coming around and ruining your good time. Here's another smart approach: consider adding oscillating fans or an overhead fan to your outdoor spaces. By creating a breeze on a porch or patio, you can blow mosquitoes away.

Another important step is removing standing water around your property. Things like empty pots, birdbaths or other areas where water can pool become prime mosquito breeding grounds. When you eliminate the water, you eliminate the perfect spot for female mosquitoes to lay eggs and mosquito larvae to continue their life cycles. Be sure to clean gutters and remove yard debris such as those piles of leaves and grass clippings are other popular spots for mosquitoes to hang out.

Make your backyard mosquito unfriendly with mosquito netting on porches or lanais. When you want to lounge or enjoy a meal, unroll the netting for additional protection. If you have a screened-in porch, check the condition of those screens throughout the warmer months. Screens on your windows or doors can also keep flying pests from entering your home and buzzing around when you are trying to sleep.

Custom Mosquito Control from MosquitoNix

You can spend a lot of time, money and effort into keeping mosquitoes away from your property, but why not leave the pest control services to the experts at MosquitoNix? We have misting systems, fogging treatments and all-natural green services that are safe for children and pets but deadly for flying insects. Contact us online or at one of our locations in over 500 cities and nine countries to get started!

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