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What Smells Do Mosquitoes Hate? How to Get Relief

Vials of essential oils that have a smell that mosquitoes hate

Enjoying a beautiful, warm day in your yard can be spoiled by the unpleasant experience of getting covered in mosquito bites. After constant, miserable itching, you’re ready to find a solution to keep these bothersome insects away from you. So, what can you do to ward off mosquitoes? Are there any smells that mosquitoes hate that you could spray around your yard or even put directly on your skin to keep from getting bitten?

Scientists have studied the varying effectiveness of certain scents to repel mosquitoes, but insufficient research has been done to compare these to chemically-formulated repellents. Studies show that mosquitoes don’t like the smell or taste of DEET, which is one reason that repellents with that chemical compound tend to be more effective than some others. Other substances that are considered alternatives to traditional sprays and lotions that do have a particular odor include:

  • Citronella
  • Neem
  • Thyme oil
  • Geraniol oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cedar oil
  • Patchouli oil
  • Clove oil
  • Garlic

Many of these items on this list are derived from plants that contain chemicals called green leaf volatiles. When crushed, these chemicals are released and act as a defense mechanism against herbivores and plant-eating insects. It is believed that the high vapor toxicity of the green leaf volatiles is what makes these plants act as either a repellent or a feeding deterrent. Some commercially-available repellents already include one or some of these ingredients.

Before you start walking around with cloves of garlic or dousing yourself in peppermint oil, there are a few things you should know. Due to their high vapor toxicity, essential oils must be used at diluted concentrations when applied to the skin or else the oils can cause problems such as skin irritation, allergic reactions or dermatitis. When diluted to appropriate levels, these oils are only effective for anywhere from an hour to three hours as they slowly evaporate off of the skin. This means you’ll need to be applying these oils consistently for varying results.

Contrary to popular belief, there is actually no scientific evidence to prove that citronella oil or citronella candles will protect you from getting bitten by mosquitoes. As a matter of fact, one study found that having a fan blowing nearby is more effective at preventing bites than lighting a citronella candle. This is because mosquitoes are not strong fliers and the gust of wind from your fan can quickly blow them off their course. Furthermore, the wind disperses the scents that you’re giving off, making it more difficult for mosquitoes to find you.

While garlic has been proven to have a moderate repellent effect when rubbed on the skin, there are more effective and potentially less smelly methods of mosquito control available. And, like the oils mentioned above, you would have to consistently be rubbing garlic on your skin for it to have an effect. And, despite any rumors you may have heard, there is no scientific evidence that proves that eating cloves of garlic will keep mosquitoes from biting you. Fortunately, this means you can stop forcing down raw cloves of garlic.

While many people prefer to use “natural” methods of mosquito deterrent, they don’t take into account that natural does not necessarily mean safe, and these methods do not necessarily have the same results as other techniques. If you want to experiment with other, more natural measures of mosquito control, you should start with taking steps to make yourself less appealing to mosquitoes. Of course, to make yourself unappealing to mosquitoes you must first know what attracts mosquitoes.

A very simple explanation is that mosquitoes track us down by sensing carbon dioxide output, lactic acid and heat, as well as by actually seeing us. The heavier you’re breathing, the warmer your basal temperature and the more you’re moving around, the bigger target you place on yourself. To make yourself less appealing, try to limit outdoor exercise during peak mosquito hours and wear light, loose-fitting clothing to make it more difficult for mosquitoes to see you and bite you. Keep outdoor fans on when you’re spending time outdoors and, if possible, switch to unscented soap, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner.

Unfortunately, you can take all of the precautionary steps to seem invisible to mosquitoes, but as long as they still live and breed in your yard, you will be getting bites. The best way to prevent mosquito problems is to consult with professionals. A pest control specialist will help you reduce your mosquito population so you have less to worry about in the first place.

As frustration with mosquitoes begins to set in, many start to wonder why these pests feed on our blood.

A mosquito biting someone

Why Do Mosquitoes Need Blood?

First of all, not all mosquitoes need blood—just the females do. Female mosquitoes need the protein in our blood in order for their eggs to develop. There is a common misconception that mosquitoes consume blood for sustenance. However, when looking for a meal for themselves, mosquitoes tend to go for something a bit sweeter, such as nectar or plant sap, which is why some believe mosquitoes are attracted to perfume.

But, blood is not the only thing mosquitoes need to reproduce. In order to lay eggs, these creatures also need moisture. Mosquito eggs must be laid in water because mosquito larvae are aquatic. Furthermore, they need standing water because flowing water ends up destroying the eggs or killing the larvae.

Mosquitoes do not need much standing water, though. The larvae can grow to adulthood in as little as an inch of standing water. They can also mature incredibly quickly. Some types of mosquitoes develop from eggs to full-grown adults in as few as seven to ten days.

To make matters worse, some mosquito species can lay up to 200 eggs at a time. That means that a single pair of breeding mosquitoes can lead to a population of 200 adults in less than two weeks. If that kind of growth continues, you can easily go from just a few to a serious mosquito infestation very quickly.

Whether you have just a few pesky bloodsuckers or going outside has become a miserable task, learning how to get rid of mosquitoes at home can be extremely beneficial.

A backyard with an outdoor dining area and pool

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes at Home

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to reduce the number of mosquitoes living on your property. You should use different strategies for mosquitoes that have made their way inside as opposed to the ones that have overrun your yard.

To get rid of mosquitoes in your home, your first step should be to figure out how these insects are making their way inside. To do so, check all window and door screens to make sure you don’t see any tears or gaps and install screens on any doors or windows that are missing them. If you can, you use air conditioning and leave fans on throughout the home. Mosquitoes are not strong fliers and a blast of wind can help throw them off their tracks.

To prevent the growth of the mosquito population in your home, try to limit any sources of moisture. Look for dripping faucets and make sure you aren’t overwatering any indoor plants. If you have pets, make sure to dump out and replace water in bowls on a daily basis.

When it comes to controlling mosquitoes outdoors, the easiest way to cut down on populations is to eliminate potential breeding areas. If you break the life cycle of the mosquito, the population can be greatly reduced. Draining any pools of standing water will eliminate any mosquito eggs and larvae living there and can make it impossible for new eggs to be laid. Possible mosquito breeding sites include:

  • Toys
  • Swings
  • Buckets and other containers
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Bird baths
  • Flower pots
  • Clogged gutters
  • Tarps
  • Kiddie pools
  • Tree holes
  • Untreated swimming pools
  • Tires
  • Rain barrels
  • Low ditches
  • Stagnant backyard pongs

If you have water that you’d like to keep, such as a rain barrel or bird bath, monitor it at least once a week. Bird bath water should be changed regularly so it doesn’t go stagnant. Rain barrels and other water storage options should have lids.

If you have low spots in your yard where puddles form, you can fill them with additional dirt to keep standing water from forming.

Additionally, adult mosquitoes prefer to live in dense shrubs, tall grass and any other hiding spot that does not get much wind. To make your yard a less ideal place for mosquitoes to live, keep your landscaping maintained by trimming dense bushes so more airflow can move through the plants and keep up with your lawn mowing so your grass doesn’t grow too high to remove any other hiding places.

Causing disruption in the mosquito life cycle is a slow fix. Over time, your mosquito population will decrease, but you need to stay on top of it for the strategy to work. A trained pest control professional can work with you to combine short-term and long-term strategies to reduce mosquito populations. That way, your mosquito problem will not only go away faster, but it’s also less likely to come back.

The easiest way to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your property is to hire an experienced pest control professional. Pest control companies have high-quality equipment and proven solutions that will minimize the number of mosquitoes around your home and yard. Your local pros also understand your area’s weather and which species are most likely to be hanging around, which will help them to create a thorough, effective mosquito control plan. When you enlist a licensed professional for assistance with these biting insects, you won’t have to wait until mosquito season is over to start enjoying your yard.

ABC Can Make Spending Time Outdoors Enjoyable Again

There are many different factors that make it extremely difficult for homeowners to make a dent in their resident mosquito population. Fortunately, the licensed specialists at ABC Home & Commercial Services have a variety of tools to control mosquitoes. When our trained and knowledgeable technicians come to your property, they will implement a custom treatment plan to both eliminate adult mosquitoes as well as prevent the development of mosquito larvae. With ABC’s help, you can enjoy your outdoor spaces again without having to worry about constantly swatting away mosquitoes.

Holt Myers

Holt joined ABC in 2021 as the Electrical & Appliance Operations Manager before transitioning to Division Manager for Pest Control. Before ABC, Holt worked as a Project Manager and Superintendent in Construction. Holt also served in the US Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. Holt is a member of NPMA’s PestVets, Stewards of the Wild and Texas Wildlife Association. Holt is an avid outdoorsman, who loves to travel and spend time with his wife and daughter.

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