Citronella torches and candles, along with mosquito coils containing citronella are quite popular. But do they work?
The answer is yes, they do work – but only to a degree.
If you’re hoping to light a few candles and have swarms of mosquitoes disappear – sorry, not going to happen. But citronella can be an effective weapon in the arsenal of your mosquito control system.
And citronella candles come with the bonus of being an inexpensive, easy to use, safe and natural mosquito repellent.
What Is Citronella?
The origin of the citronella oil that is used in making mosquito repellent products does not come from the ‘citronella plant’ often sold in nurseries (sometimes called a mosquito plant). That plant, in fact, isn’t really a citronella plant, but is a species of geranium (and it does NOT repel mosquitoes, so don’t buy it for that purpose).
The true source of citronella oil is a tropical grass.
Oil of citronella has been in use for more than 60 years as an insect repellent. In addition to repelling mosquitoes, citronella can be effective at repelling ticks, fleas, black flies and other insect pests.
According to the EPA, citronella poses no risks to human health, and is also considered non-toxic to wildlife and to the environment.
How Effective are Citronella Candles?
Citronella candles aren’t 100% effective at repelling mosquitoes, but they can help.
One oft-quoted study found that study subjects who remained close to citronella candles (they used 3% citronella candles) received less than half the number of mosquito bites than unprotected subjects received.
This same study also showed that plain candles offered some degree of protection from mosquitoes, but were much less effective than the citronella candles.
Don’t Expect Too Much From Citronella Products…
But every little bit helps.
Of course, you have to remain close to the candles to benefit from their mosquito repelling properties. But if you’re having a large outdoor gathering, just put out lots of citronella candles. They’re certainly cheap enough.
Using citronella candles and torches can add some pleasant scents and a nice ambiance to your outdoor activities. And in the process, they’ll cut down on the pesky mosquitoes, at least to a degree.
Nothing wrong with that!