We’ve all heard that incense keeps mosquitoes away. Does that mean you can light a stick of Nag Champa and prevent bites? Sadly, no. The truth is a little more complicated than a one-line solution. The good news is that some incense aromas do repel mosquitoes. However, not every incense stick works the same because different varieties use different ingredients. Regrettably, your favorite smell may attract the nasty creatures you want to avoid. I’ll explain what works and what doesn’t, and recommend a few highly effective incense based repellents to help you get through the summer with less risk. Once you understand what mosquitoes like, and what they can’t stand, it’s easy enough to find good incense that will keep the biting bugs away. Best of all, some scents repel other insects as well, which is a nice bonus. You don’t have to live with itchy bites and disease risks when you know what truly works.
Incense Aromas That Repel Mosquitoes
Most people know you can burn citronella incense to ward off mosquitoes. You’ll see it in tiki torches and candles as well. However, there is a whole host of other natural repellants that also aid in keeping those pesky biters out of your yard and home.
Murphy’s Mosquito Sticks are a superb Deet free option. With lemongrass, peppermint and citronella among other natural scents, Murphy’s smell amazing. Moreover, they can burn for up to two and a half hours per stick. Get yours from Amazon by clicking here.
The following list has most of the best-known mosquito fighters on it. Choose any one for your incense. Alternately, you can opt to burn a combination of several scents, for the pleasant smell, bug prevention, and occasionally other added aromatherapeutic effects.
Mosquitoes Hate These Smells
- Citronella- This classic standby is well known for its mosquito fighting prowess. You’ll find it in virtually every natural product aimed at repelling mosquitoes.
- Lavender- Better known for its calming effect, this lovely purple flower can help prevent mosquito bites. Use it as incense, and add a few drops of lavender essential oil into your baths or body spray.
- Rosemary- The same ubiquitous plant than makes this common kitchen spice can also help keep you safe from mosquito infestations.
- Peppermint- On its own, peppermint boasts a whole list of beneficial side effects. From cooling the skin to soothing mosquito bites, this is one useful ingredient. Grow it in your yard for added benefits, and you’ll prevent many insects, not just mosquitoes.
- Geranium- The Geraniol in geraniums is offensive to mosquitoes and other insects as well. You’ll find Geranium essential oil in numerous insect fighting products. Though it’s not as well known as citronella, it’s incredibly useful and potent.
- Soy Bean Oil- Although most people know soy sauce, and plenty of us are also familiar with products such as tofu and edamame, fewer of us consider Soy Bean Oil. Nevertheless, it can help prevent mosquitoes from biting you. Best of all, it’s safe for use on and around children as well.
- Sage- This classic ‘smudging’ substance is better known for warding off bad vibes and unwanted occult influences. However, the aroma also tends to annoy, or possibly mislead mosquitoes.
- Garlic- Although you won’t find many garlic oil-based incense combinations, you can always DIY this well-known mosquito repelling oil onto a batch of your favorite incense.
- Sandalwood- The fragrant wood of the sandalwood tree is known all over the world. Though it’s rarely mentioned as a mosquito repellant, you can certainly add it to your arsenal to help avoid getting bitten.
- Basil- Yes, the same ‘stuff’ you put into your pasta sauce is outstanding as an insect repellant. You can always grow some around the yard for both purposes. Moreover, there are dozens of varieties to choose from. I prefer Holy Basil and Purple Leaf Holy Basil for the potency and color.
- Clove– Traditionally, cloves are something many families push into a holiday ham. However, this spicy, sweet scent also makes a superb mosquito-repelling incense.
- Eucalyptus- Perhaps best known for its beneficial aid in clearing congested sinuses, eucalyptus can help you to focus, boost your memory, and of course, ward off mosquitoes. Any eucalyptus essential oil incense should be on your list for all of these reasons. Lemon Eucalyptus, in particular, is the most effective against mosquitoes.
- Lemongrass- The delightful, citrusy scent of lemongrass is always a refreshing delight. It pairs well with every other aroma on this list, and it will provide you some protection against mosquitoes.
What Attracts Mosquitoes
To repel mosquitoes with incense or anything else, it helps to understand what they want. The obvious answer is blood, and that’s true enough for female mosquitoes who hunt to breed. However, there’s a little more to mosquito’s senses than you might expect.
It might surprise you to learn that they don’t merely hear our heartbeats or smell human blood. Moreover, you might think they use some sort of thermal vision trick. While none of these are bad guesses, they are a little bit off. However, these crafty insects do use smell and sight to find us.
Mosquito Hunting Habits
First, a mosquito picks up on our carbon dioxide trail. We exhale CO2, so there’s no way to avoid that. Like sharks, they can pick up traces of their prey from a substantial distance. The sensors around a mosquito’s mouth can ‘sniff’ out a carbon dioxide plume from fifty meters away.
Next, mosquitoes use their eyes. While they can tell what we are at a fair distance, these biting bugs are much more likely to give you a taste test if you’re wearing darker colored clothing. Presumably, that has to do with how their eyes work.
Finally, at close enough range, they can hone in on our thermal signature. In short, they sense our body temperature or that of another mammal, and the mosquitoes have their target locked. Unless you are actively doing something to deter them, like using incense or Deet, then they’ll make a meal out of you.
When you’re outside this summer light a few of Scent Shop’s All Natural Deet-Free Skeeter Screen Yard Sticks. These long-lasting sticks can burn for up to three hours apiece. You’ll appreciate the protection, even in wooded areas with lots of mosquitoes. See the Amazon reviews for yourself by clicking here.
Why The Wrong Incense Might Attract Mosquitoes
According to Abhinay Jilla and Bhaskar Kura of the University of New Orleans, “…incense burning generates the respirable particulate dust, (and) carbon dioxide…” We know these insects can ‘smell’ CO2 from a fair distance. Thus, if your particular incense is not sending a signal to go away, then you might as well be ringing the dinner bell for the local mosquito population.
Choosing Safe Incense to Keep Mosquitoes Away
Incense undoubtedly helps to keep mosquitoes away, but be aware of what else it does. By burning the right, or wrong, incense, you can put off a lot of smoke. Inhaling carcinogens isn’t great for you. Especially some of the targeted mosquito repelling products have ingredients that are not safe to inhale.
Instead, opt for an all-natural essential oil-based incense. Choose a blend of scents you enjoy from the list above. Skip the Deet and other chemical nastiness. I recommend peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender instead. Plus, they smell much more delightful.
I recommend Universal Backpackers Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks from Amazon for any time you’re headed out of the house. They work as well in your yard as they do on a mountain hike. In addition to mosquitoes, Universal Backpackers also helps prevent flies from ruining your picnic. Learn more by clicking here.
More Steps You Can Take to Avoid Mosquitoes
Once you’ve got your incense in hand, light it. However, there are plenty of additional steps you can take to prevent bites. Try some of these techniques to minimize your exposure this summer.
Start with lighter colored clothing. As I mentioned before, mosquitoes find darker surfaces attractive. Loose-fitting, long clothing like sleeved shirts and long pants will help keep mosquitoes off your body.
You can also minimize your risks by using the same essential oils in your incense to make a spray for clothing and skin. Please note, citronella is not great for human skin. However, many of the other options like peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender make for a pleasant perfume when mixed with a suitable carrier oil.
Mosquitoes can hunt at all hours. However, most species become notably more active around sunrise, sunset, and a few hours into the evening. This behavior is doubly unfortunate because it is also the time of day humans often have the most trouble seeing, so we never even notice them buzzing around. If you can, get indoors during the twilight and early part of the night.
By taking extra precautions, you can make that incense work in your favor without wasting more than you need to. Also, remember to look around the yard. Dump any stagnant water, or add a few drops of peppermint oil to it to destroy the larva before they hatch.
Repelling mosquitoes with incense is possible. So long as you choose your scents correctly, it can help a lot. Citronella is excellent for outdoor use, but inside you may want to opt for eucalyptus or peppermint instead.
Additionally, you need to read the label and make sure the incense you pick uses essential oils and not fragrance oils. Since fragrance oils are synthetic, we often cannot smell the difference, but the ingredients that repel bugs are not present. Always check the reviews and description before you order incense.
As part of an overall plan to prevent pests like mosquitoes, incense is a superb choice. Make sure you also use a natural repellent for your skin when you’re away from the smoke.