Need to Know: Does Lemongrass Repel Mosquitoes?

I am no fan of mosquitoes. So, when I read about lemongrass as a natural mosquito repellent, I had to wonder: does lemongrass really repel mosquitoes?

Like, really? And if so, how? If you’re looking for an all-natural alternative to DEET- and Picaridin-based bug sprays, you’ll want to read this. 

Mosquitoes start to return and rear their ugly heads between March and April. Generally, once daytime temps are consistently greater than 50 degrees .


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These pests are not only annoying, they can carry deadly diseases, like West Nile virus and encephalitis. Mosquito repellant isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.

Some people don’t like to use chemical-based bug repellents. Lemongrass (also known as Cymbopogon citratus) is a good natural alternative.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at using lemongrass as a natural form of pest control. Plus, we’ll also share how to use it effectively. 

What is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass Products - Oils, Lotions, Soaps

Lemongrass is a perennial grass that is mostly grown in Asia. This aromatic grass is used in Asian cuisine and known for its citrusy aroma.

As a result, it’s popular in candles, room sprays, diffusers and more. The oils from the lemongrass plant are also used in many natural mosquito repellents.

Lemongrass oil – the oil derived from lemongrass – is rich in citral and geranyl acetate. These compounds are natural pest repellents.

Lemongrass vs. Mosquitoes

In a study documented by the National Library of Medicine, the oil from lemongrass plants was proven to be an effective mosquito repellent.

According to the study, lemongrass oil has shown a repellent effect against many disease-transmitting species of mosquitoes.

Mosquito on Leaf

A second study also showed significant results when testing lemongrass oil against mosquitoes.

In this study, humans rubbed lemongrass oil on exposed skin and entered a chamber with mosquitoes. After three hours, the subjects had no mosquito bites.

Additionally, the mosquitoes that came in contact with the oil died. Lemongrass is not only effective at repelling mosquitoes, but it can also kill them.

Do Mosquitoes Dislike the Smell?

It is unclear how mosquitoes truly feel about the smell of lemongrass. However, it is clear that something about the plant repels them.

Not only does it repel them, it can kill them if they’re exposed in high concentrations. The study above proved that with a 100% death rate.

essential oils

There are many herbs, plants and grasses that mosquitoes do not like. According to a study in Malaria Journal, mosquitoes hate these scents:

  • Lavender
  • Pine
  • Citronella
  • Camphor
  • Catnip
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cinnamon
  • Cedar
  • Rosemary

Interestingly, these plants are all mostly pleasing to the human nose. You can repel mosquitoes and enjoy these nose-pleasing scents at the same time.

What Bugs Does Lemongrass Repel?

The compounds citral and geranyl acetate are found in lemongrass. Both compounds are effective against many types of insects.

The use of lemongrass oil has been proven to be effective against mosquitoes, house flies, stable flies, fleas, ticks, lice and other insects.

Tick - Where Do Ticks Go in the Winter?

Lemongrass repels bugs when applied to your skin. Additionally, you can apply it to your yard or garden without worrying about harming your plants.

It will kill biting pests within an hour of direct application. This is why many people use it as a natural pest repellent in their homes, yards and gardens.

Is Lemongrass Better Than Citronella?

Lemongrass and citronella have been proven to have similar effects against mosquitoes. They’re both derived from plants and work in a similar way.

Both lemongrass and citronella repel mosquitoes. They also both kill mosquitoes when applied directly to the pest. However, they smell quite different.

citronella candle

While some people hate the smell of citronella oil, others love it. Lemongrass is generally more appealing to the nose, making it a better choice for some.

If you like the smell of both plants, you can use both.  You can make your own bug spray using both oils to maximize effectiveness.

Is Lemongrass Toxic to Dogs?

According to the ASPCA, lemongrass is classified as toxic to dogs. However, the toxicity is highly dependent upon the scenario.

If your dog ingests large amounts of lemongrass, he can become very sick. If he ingests the concentrated oil, he can become even more sick.

dog under a blanket

Lemongrass can cause vomiting, diarrhea and other stomach issues, depending on how much was ingested.

Larger or more concentrated quantities can have more troubling effects. Small amounts are typically okay.

Small amounts of lemongrass are used in natural pest deterrents for dogs, including in flea collars and certain sprays.

As far as inhalation goes, it’s best not to diffuse lemongrass oil in an enclosed space with your dog.

What About Cats?

Cats are different from dogs when it comes to lemongrass toxicity. Inhaling or being exposed to the oil in any way can be potentially deadly for them.

cat outside

If you’re looking for a natural pest or flea repellant for your cats, stay away from lemongrass. Cats have a much more sensitive system than dogs.

If you have cats in your home, avoid using lemongrass oil. Don’t diffuse it in the air or spray it on areas your cats can reach.

How Do You Use Lemongrass?

There are several ways you can use lemongrass to get rid of mosquitoes. You can use sprays, burn candles, diffuse the oil, even make a lotion.

While you can find many “chemical free” bug sprays and repellants using lemongrass at the store, you can also save money and make your own.

essential oils

Making your own chemical free bug spray is inexpensive and fun. Plus, you can use whatever oils you want.

The best way to make your own lemongrass bug repellent for your body and home is by using the essential oil.

To make a repelling lemongrass spray, fill a small spray bottle with distilled water. Add the following ingredients: 

* A few drops of lemongrass oil

* A tablespoon of denatured alcohol or vodka (to help the oil and water mix)

* A few drops of other favorite essential oils, like lavender, rosemary and cedar for a pleasing scent

Once you’ve added all your ingredients, shake well and use as the diluted spray on your body or on your clothing. 

scented candle

You can also buy (or make) lemongrass candles. You can even can add lemongrass oil to your favorite lotion to create a bug-repelling moisturizer.

When purchasing lemongrass oil for spray or lotion, read the label. Some “lemongrass scented” oils are artificial, but you need the real thing.

Wrap-Up Notes

Lemongrass and other natural grasses, herbs and oils have shown a lot of promise against mosquitoes. Plus, they work on other bugs like ticks, too.

If you don’t want to use chemical-based bug sprays, you can use natural oils to keep mosquitoes at bay at home or on the trails.

summer flowers

Lemongrass is a pleasing scent that’s easy to find in stores. You can find it with bug sprays or the natural essential oils.

Remember to read the label when purchasing lemongrass oil. Additionally, use extra care around your pets, especially cats.

Making your own natural bug spray is inexpensive. You can add other oils to help repel bugs and create a custom scent, too.