A Natural Mosquito Repellent? We test it.

21 Jul

The mosquitoes have been rabid this year; in my neighborhood we now have daytime mozzies (for which we are once again blaming someone else — this time it’s the Asians because we are calling them Asian tigers (Aedes albopictus if you would like the scientific name). Kind of reminds me of the French pox, the Spanish flu, the German measles. We love to throw other nations under the bus for our epidemics, so ATTENTION INTERNATIONAL READERS: please let us know what plagues you blame on the Americans (particularly whether you actually name them the American something! I may be opening myself up for quite an onslaught, but I hope to be amused!)

Anyhoo,a friend on Facebook posted a suggestion for repelling mosquitoes from the I Hate Mosquitoes FB page. You are meant to stud halved limes with cloves. I always have both ingredients around and they looked very pretty in the picture, so I was all over this idea. The theory is that they are repelled by citrus, which seems reasonable enough, I guess!

I finally got around to trying it while staying last week at the waterfront Greenport home of Vincent and Carolyn Macchirole. The mosquitoes drove us away from the lovely seating area on their dock one dusk, so the next night we sliced and studded limes and laid them around the table. And the result?

It looks very pretty, but is it an effective mosquito repellant?

It looks very pretty, but is it an effective mosquito repellant?


The mosquitoes drove us away from the dock once again. We were not impressed,

Click here for hoaxhunter Snopes’ take on some of these home-cooked mosquito repellents like Lemon Joy and Listerine, and a mention of this experiment. So it’s back to the drawing board for more natural mosquito solutions! How do you get rid of the little buggers?



41 Responses to “A Natural Mosquito Repellent? We test it.”

  1. pagan min December 13, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    why dont you try them in a closed room

  2. Mahim Pratap Singh July 21, 2015 at 2:04 am #

    Apropos: ATTENTION INTERNATIONAL READERS: please let us know what plagues you blame on the Americans (particularly whether you actually name them the American something!

    American Culture lol. Conservatives in India love to blame American “Culture” as the reason for every depravity seen among youth or teens. Sorry but you asked for it lol.

  3. Elaine Heritage June 30, 2015 at 7:01 am #

    Actually you should have sliced them in the other direction. You have them sliced end to end!
    where the membrane of the lime covers the lime and it isn’t released with the clove. Gently roll the lime before slicing it around the middle not end to end then put the cloves in.

  4. Don June 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

    Rubbing cow dung on one’s self is also known to discourage nearly anything from lighting on you, including other humans. But seriously, except for citronella (and even that is weak at best), there is really nothing “all natural” that will spare you from the little bloodsuckers. Nearly everything else is myth, or exaggerated, or, someone is experiencing a placebo effect. There is no free lunch here, except for the mosquitoes. You can’t beat the stuff in a can.

  5. Beth May 5, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    We use lemon eucalyptus spray – I get it at a camping supply store. If you use it liberally it works great! We get mobbed at the farm when we plant at night if we don’t use it. Don’t get it in your eyes!

    • Patty Sullivan June 18, 2015 at 9:45 am #

      Lemon Euchalyptus spray I love also. But here is something that you don’t have to apply on your skin! Take a spray bottle and put some Garlic Essential Oil drops into it, along with clove essential oil and I used Tea Tree Oil also this time, all in generous amounts. Add water to top. Sorry no recipe girl here. Spray around where you are sitting, floor, dirt, walls plants etc. The smell will linger for that day, pretty strong, but I sprayed this yesterday and they were gone immediately and this morning nothing bit me as I was working where i sprayed along the side of the house. Almost all bugs were gone, except for Butterflies which is awesome. Try it!

      • Patty Sullivan February 20, 2017 at 11:49 am #

        You can buy Mosquito Barrier on ebay and elsewhere that you dilute and spray around on plants etc. It will repel Mosquitoes, Ticks and even chiggers! Really works!!!

  6. Irfan May 4, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    I heard from some people in a village that the tulsi plant (Ocimum tenuiflorum) keeps them away. Will try it this year.

  7. Chris May 3, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

    Also a lot of fans really do help. They both disrupt their flight patterns and stop build up of CO2 from your exhaling and changes the air around your natural body smells, which attracts them.

  8. Chris May 3, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    I live in Asia, where Green Oil is readily available anywhere (a concentrated minty oil in a small bottle available at any place bandages are sold). It can also be found as an impulse buy at most Chinatown stores in North America. I draw a line down the front and back of each leg and spread it around by hand. Do the same with arms, two lines for the back, and some on your neck and temples. Get it close to the face if it isn’t too strong for your eyes. Remember, sweat may make it run off your forehead and into your eyes, which can cause irritation.

    Keeps me mosquito-free for hours.

  9. Michael August 8, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    I tried the lime and clove solution yesterday in central North Carolina. I was being swarmed while sitting on my porch so I went inside and grabbed 4 limes and the whole cloves and brought them outside to slice and stuff them. Within a minute of beginning, I stopped seeing the buggers and they have not been back yet. I placed each half lime in a tea light holder and placed one on each side of the porch and one on each corner of the table on the porch. Now my porch smells great and I haven’t been bitten once. Now to see how long it lasts before they need replacing…

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy August 8, 2014 at 8:18 am #

      That is wonderful! Perhaps I will slice them more thinly and spread that fragrance farther next time?

      • sayeda November 7, 2014 at 9:38 am #

        what is the scientific explanation for that ? why do actually mosquitoes fly away in the presence of lemon and cloves ?

      • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy November 7, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

        Unfortunately, Sayeda, whatever the scientists say, the lime and clove was not sufficient to drive them away. I am hoping that peppermint soap might ddo it next mosquito season!

  10. Amber June 30, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    I am a mosquito magnet. My husband bought a catnip plant and we potted the thing right by our back door. Anytime I go out in the yard I break off a bunch of leaves and rub them all over any exposed skin. It totally works. It’s actually very amusing to see the skeeters trying to land on me, but they’re either disoriented or disgusted. Whatever, the end result is I don’t get stung!

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy June 30, 2014 at 6:01 am #

      Wow! I will have to try that next. Catnip, you say? Thanks so much for the tip…we will DEFINITELY give it a try (and write about it!)

    • jrg973 August 9, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

      Amber…one question…how do you explain the cat coat during the Summer?

  11. kimberly June 14, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    What kind of cloves do you use in the all natural mosquito repellent made with shaved limes and clove

  12. willie shields April 18, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    Avon Skin So Soft. USMC Drill Instructors use it. Nuff said.
    I’m trying to get Margo to try scrapple – the other gray meat.

  13. Elizabeth Smock February 26, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    we used to take extra B-1 when I lived in New Orleans. The idea is that the stink of the vitamin coming off your skin keeps the mozzies away. It seemed to help, but the ones here in Florida don’t care. Maybe they’re B-deficient down here!

  14. thewindykitchen July 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    a smoky fire seemed to do the trick in the Romanian country side when the ladies wanted a few more hours of undisturbed gossip in the evening. After the trip to Siberia, I seem to get nasty reactions to mosquito bites so if I’m in areas with lots of them, I just spray myself with a strong chemical repellent. My fiancee swears by the more natural eucalyptus version though 🙂

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy July 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      I try to avoid the chemicals as much as possible, what with a small child and a backyard dedicated to birds and growing vegetables. But sometime, sometimes….

  15. Karen July 24, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Our next door neighbors have a “mosquito magnet” machine that runs on propane. It is suppose to attract the mosquitoes and seems to do a good job when they are out late in the evening.

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy July 24, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      Wow, that is serious mozzie fighting business! But when you have such a short summer outdoor season, you really have to make the most of it!

  16. Conor Bofin July 23, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Little brats. They love me. I can get eaten alive while the rest of the family don’t get eaten at all. I also react badly (huge blisters) and can be cranky as a result. I spray myself with stuff from the pharmacy. That usually works to some degree. The candles just make me feel sick.

  17. mmmarzipan July 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Oh- I was really hoping your experiment was going to be a success! Sorry it didn’t work! I LOATHE mosquitos! I bought a natural organic insect repellent in Australia that contains essential oils… if applied liberally (its a pump spray) it does keep them off your skin.

  18. Mad Dog July 22, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    When I lived in Georgia, citronella candles placed round the barbecue stopped me getting bitten to death. Otherwise, I’ve only ever had success with Backwoods Cutter and the ingredients in that are very unpleasant. They don’t like wind, so fans in the bedroom are very good on a hot night.
    I eat mountains of garlic and mosquitos love me, which makes me think they like it too.

    • Eha July 22, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

      Dear MD: I happen to eat ‘mountains fo garlic’ also and never ever thought THAT would make me ‘attractive’ – well, I refuse to give that part of ‘my life’ up, so . . . !!!! BUT I do have a huge fan in my bedroom!!!

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy July 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

      I do eat loads of garlic, but the mosquitoes don’t really bother me….never have. The fan thing has been working for us outdoors for lunch!

  19. Eha July 22, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    Since in midwinter in Australia [and I do not live in the tropical parts!] I managed to get a mosquito in my bedroom at night twice last week, I eagerly clicked on to find no real, real help tho’ I shall try the garlic spray outside when the warm weather returns. We normally burn citronella candles, leaving those around people’s feet as mozzies most congregate there: variable results also 🙂 !

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy July 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

      I agree. Citronella seems to work best when the wind is high and blows the candles out. Which leads me back to the fan idea!

  20. Susan at Savvy Single Suppers July 22, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Oh, no! What a waste of limes!! Wouldn’t it have been better to go inside and use the limes to make Mojitos or Margaritas and down a few and then you wouldn’t even feel the mosquitos bite (until the next day or when West Nile sets in . . .).

  21. Dianne July 21, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Garlic. I buy a liquid garlic spray (I think the one I just bought is called Mosquito Barrier). I mix with some vegetable oil and dish soap (there’s a reason for this – something about making it stick better). I spray early morning or at dusk. I saturate the area and even get some in the surrounding trees. It’s harmless to people, pets and wildlife. In fact I first heard of it when reading a story about the Hampton Classic Horse Show. They use it.

    Sometimes it works perfectly sometimes not. I find it doesn’t work as well if I spray in the middle of the day. Supposedly it will protect for weeks but I have been known to spray every morning on the weekends/days off just to make sure. I buy a 128 oz container that last me a few summers.

    The garlic smell goes away quickly for the human nose. If you like garlic this may disappoint you. Coincidentally I have no vampires either.

  22. Lorraine July 21, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    maybe you should have left some prosecco around which would have gotten the
    mosquitoes quite dizzy and put them out of commission!

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