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Do Citronella Candles Keep Mosquitoes Away?

For decades, citronella oil has been touted as a cure-all for mosquito problems. Citronella oil has been formulated into sprays, lotions, and candles. Even if citronella works to repel mosquitoes for a short period of time, it does not work as a long-lasting mosquito repellent.

Citronella candles only are effective so long as they are lit. In fact, some research has shown that citronella candles may only be effective for a couple of hours.

How Does Citronella Repel Mosquitoes?

Citronella is a naturally occurring oil that is derived from leaves and grass. This gives the citronella oil a characteristic yellow/brown color with a grassy, floral, and citrus scent. Citronella essential oil is used for many purposes, namely a natural insect repellent, as perfume, as a food additive, to promote wound healing, and even as an antifungal agent. 

Mosquitoes rely on their sense of smell to locate hosts to feed on. Fragrant citronella, then, works to dissociate the pests. Citronella candles have since become a very popular product that is marketed to repel not only mosquitoes but a variety of other insects as well.

Do Citronella Candles Work?

Citronella actually works to repel insects by masking the scents that mosquitoes and other pests usually use to locate people. But just how effective is citronella to keep mosquitoes away? Research has found that citronella oil, when combined with vanillin, can provide mosquito protection for three hours. When combined with DEET, a citronella product can protect you for over six hours. However, citronella candles alone are not strong enough to repel the many mosquitoes that are active in Eastern Tennessee summers.

Can Citronella Plants Repel Mosquitoes?

Citronella plants, often sold as lemon-scented geraniums, do not repel mosquitoes. It is the oil within the leaves that contains the properties needed to repel mosquitoes. The leaves must be crushed or rubbed to extract the oil, which could help to keep mosquitoes at bay. For mosquito repellent you can trust, look to using products containing DEET or to working with your local mosquito control experts. 

Do Citronella Candles Keep Mosquitoes Away?​ in Sevierville TN

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