essential oils as insect repellants

How Essential Oils Keep Mosquitoes Away in a Non-Toxic, Natural Way | Alternative to Harmful Pesticides

essential oils as insect repellants
Via GreenMedInfo, some great information on Essential Oils as a way to keep mosquitoes away in a non-toxic, natural manner:

Essential Oils Proven to Send Mosquitoes Packing

We all want natural alternatives to harsh chemical repellents, but do any really work? Learn how to make your own repellent with essential oils scientifically shown to be as effective as DEET

Zika virus and it’s purported link to microcephaly has become the latest in a long list of mosquito-borne illnesses that are causing people concern. Whether or not you believe in the link between Zika and birth defects, the fact that mosquitoes cause tremendous human suffering is undeniable. Mosquito-borne illnesses kill more than a million people annually. The little blood-suckers transmit maladies from malaria to West Nile virus, Chikungunya, and yellow fever—and even heartworm to our beloved canine companions.

Government health authorities continue recommending DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), which does work in repelling mosquitoes. However, this potentially toxic chemical is not without its own risks, producing effects similar to deadly nerve gases and pesticides.[i]

We want natural alternatives, but do any really work? Recent science says yes!

A number of essential oils have proven effective for repelling mosquitoes, including the Aedes Aegypti varietythe most notable Zika transmission vector. It isn’t surprising that essential oils would be effective because, over the millennia, plants have needed to manufacture “insect repellants” to ensure their survival. Many of the individual chemical compounds in essential oils have insect repelling properties. Any one essential oil may contain hundreds to thousands of compounds—terpenes, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones, phenols, alcohols, esters, and the list goes one.

Modern science is just beginning to sort out which plant-based extracts effectively deter each type of insect. Fortunately, there are a few essential oils that Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes find highly distasteful, and you can use this to your advantage.

Litsea Oil Ranks #1 on Mosquitoes’ Most Unwanted List

In an attempt to find safe and ecofriendly plant-based insect repellants, researchers tested 23 essential oils for their mosquito-repelling properties, specifically against Aedes Aegypti. Three essential oils outperformed the rest: litsea, geranium and rosewood oils. The results will be published in the September 2016 issue of Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases.[ii]

Litsea oil ranked highest in making the little pests turn their proboscises and head for the hills. Litsea showed outstanding repellency at all three concentrations tested (1, 10 and 100 ppm), comparing favorably to DEET and DEPA (N,N-diethyl phenylacetamide). Litsea oil comes from the fruit of the Litsea cubeba tree, an evergreen native to Japan, southern China and southeast Asia. In this particular study, the top 10 mosquito-repelling essential oils were identified as the following, listed in order of highest effectiveness:


1.    Litsea

2.    Rosewood

3.    Geranium

4.    Lemongrass

5.    Lemon scented

6.    Camphor

7.    Citronella

8.    Galbanum

9.    Dill

10. Cinnamon


The insect repelling properties of litsea oil are not unique to this study. In 2015, the synergistic effects of the same 10 essential oils were evaluated, in various combinations—again, specifically targeting Ae. Aegypti. [iii]The most effective blends had litsea as one ingredient, especially when combined with lemon scented (lemon eucalyptus) or lemongrass oil. The little bloodsuckers are clearly not lemon fans.

Lemon Eucalyptus, Geranium and Rosewood

“Lemon scented” (Eucalyptius citriodora) oil comes from a large tree whose name was recently changed to Corymbia. Corymbia citriodora is lemon eucalyptus, the oil being derived from the leaves of the lemon eucalyptus tree. “Lemon scented” (lemon eucalyptus) oil is 85 percent citronellol. Just as the name suggests, citronellol is the primary compound in citronella, well known for its insect-repelling properties.

Adding to the botanical confusion, there is a commercial product made from lemon eucalyptus called “oil of lemon eucalyptus,” also called PMD, which is CDC-approved by as an insect repellant.[iv] Although it comes from the same plant, this oil is not the same as the essential oil extracted from the Corymbia citriodora leaf, but rather a byproduct of the distillation process.

Another oil containing citronellol is geranium oil. Given its chemical similarities to citronella, it’s not surprising it ranked third for mosquito repellency. Geranium oil comes from Pelargonium graveolenes, a shrub native to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It has a pleasing scent ranging from lemon to rose, depending on the age of the leaves. Geranium oil has a number of medicinal benefits, including antifungal.

Ranking second, rosewood oil is extracted from Aniba rosaeodora, an evergreen tree indigenous to Peru and Brazil. Also called “bois-de-rose,” it belongs to the Laurel plant family along with camphor, bay, cinnamon and cassia. Rosewood’s scent is very pleasant with health benefits reported for pain relief, wound healing, stress reduction and asthma.

Citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon and lemongrass essential oils are also some of the most frequently patented oils for repelling mosquitoes, according to a 2011 Brazilian literature review.

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See the rest of this post and more information on essential oils and their effectiveness in lieu of pesticides at GreenMedInfo here.