Natural Bug Repellent: Does Lemongrass Repel Mosquitos?

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Summer nights are usually a lot of fun until you wake up the next morning covered in bug bites. You may have felt them biting your ankles while you sat on the grass roasting marshmallows, but what were you supposed to do? You were already wearing pants to try to protect your legs, but mosquitos are vicious and will find skin by any means necessary. Insects and bugs aren’t only an issue on summer nights, they can also find their way into your home. Your containers of rice, flour, coffee, and sugar can all get infested with moths and ants. Essential oils, like lemongrass, are great natural alternatives to repel bugs compared to the typical products you can find at your local drugstore.

There are plenty of products on the market that claim to repel bugs and even kill them. These products contain chemicals. They can help keep the pesky insects away, but those fumes aren’t great for you, your family, or the environment. These products are also on the pricey side. This is why natural bug repellents are the way to go! Whether it be by using a diffuser or applying a combination of oils to your skin, essential oils can be beneficial.  You may be wondering, is lemongrass as effective as store-bought options?

What Does Lemongrass Essential Oil Look Like?

Lemongrass leaves.

Lemongrass leaves.

Lemongrass oil looks just like you’d expect it to look. It’s yellow, like a lemon. It comes from the lemongrass plant that looks very similar to scallions.  The plant tends to grow in subtropical and tropical parts of the world, like India and Sri Lanka. It has a thin consistency and is commonly used as a cooking ingredient across Asian countries. It’s commonly used in salads and curries. Lemongrass essential oil comes with a  lot of health benefits. 

Lemongrass essential oil has the ability to reduce inflammation and help with stomach issues. Since it has anti-inflammatory properties it can also ease arthritis pain, making it a relaxing addition to a massage oil. Using an essential oil, in general, requires caution. They are extremely concentrated and therefore need to be diluted before applying to skin. That is unless you diffuse them, in which case you just need an oil diffuser. However you choose to use this essential oil, the pale yellow oil is extremely beneficial. One of its lesser-known benefits is that it can be used as a bug repellent. 

Top 3 Essential Oils That Repel Bugs

1. Lemongrass Essential Oil

the top 10 benefits of castor oil

Lemongrass essential oil.

Though lemongrass essential oil is a popular ingredient in tea, it doesn’t mean it can’t be used for other reasons. According to research, lemongrass mixed with olive oil makes the ultimate bug repellant. It’s said to provide a 98.8% protection against the common house mosquito. If you apply it topically, it could provide protection of 74%-95% for two and a half hours on two types of mosquitoes. Your classic bug sprays can be toxic and foul-smelling. Lemongrass essential oil is anything but. You can easily find this EO in any health store and here at our Maple Holistics essential oil store.

2. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender in hands.

Lavender in hands.

When you think of lavender oil, you may only think about its calming aroma, but it’s also effective in keeping bugs away. It’s a good idea to keep lavender pillows or sachets in your kitchen cupboards to keep aways moths and ants. When thinking about what kind of bug repellent you use, you most likely just think of yourself or your child, but what about the environment? When you think about alternatives to the synthetic sprays, lotions, or candles, do you think about what those chemicals can do to the environment? Natural bug repellents are less harmful to you and me, as well as the planet. 

3. Basil Essential Oil 

Birds eye view of basil growing.

Basil growing.

You most likely use basil to spice up your pizza or pasta, but it’s also great for repelling bugs. This is especially relevant in wet climates that have a lot of ponds or lakes. Basil essential oil was tested as a repellent and it proved to be 40% effective in protection against a specific mosquito that carries malaria. Basil essential oil can do even more because it’s concentrated and very potent. In a lab study, it was found to be 100% effective in providing protection from yellow fever mosquitos for six hours when applied topically. Using essential oils on your skin without a carrier oil can cause irritation though, so be sure to dilute it with an appropriate carrier oil. 

Bug Repellent For Babies

Bbay in diaper in between mothers legs.

Baby crawling.

There’s a lot of information that comes with having a baby and being a new parent. A lot of it is easy to just look up online, but most of your questions come back with conflicting answers. When it comes to bug repellent, the CDC recommends to not use it until the baby is at least two months old. Before that point, your baby should be covered up so as not to get bitten. You should even cover the stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting. A baby’s skin is very sensitive so their skin may not react well to the harsh chemicals in your standard bottle of bug repellent. 

Even though it’s recommended to not use products with more than 30% DEET, why do you need to use them at all? Babies are babies for such a short time of their lives, why contaminate the air they breathe or their skin with the fumes of bug repellent? The labels on the products specifically say that they should be sprayed in open areas to avoid inhaling them. Yes, being outdoors helps decrease the smell and its effect on your health, but it doesn’t eliminate the toxicity. Natural repellents are made with oils like cedarwood, peppermint, citronella, and of course, lemongrass. 

DIY Lemongrass Diffuser Blends To Repel Mosquitos 

Birds eye view of essential oil bottles and flowers.

DIY essential oils.

If you’ve been burning citronella candles to keep away the bugs, then you may benefit from healthier and safer methods. The citronella candle you’re using could be filled with chemicals that are causing you to breathe in burning chemicals. Open flames can be dangerous to children and pets, which is why an oil diffuser is the safest alternative. Here’s one of many DIY lemongrass diffuser blends to repel mosquitos. If you want to make a lemongrass essential oil bug repellent, then you should use other essential oils to make the perfect combination. Instead of burning a citronella candle in your backyard, you can diffuse your essential oil blend. 

 In addition to lemongrass essential oil, you should also add patchouli and clove essential oils. Patchouli essential oil is commonly used in commercial bug repellents. Insects don’t like the patchouli plant, which is what makes it a great addition to your essential oil blend. Additionally, clove oil was found to be 100% effective in keeping away certain types of mosquitoes for at least 2 hours. Therefore, this combination makes the perfect threesome to keep away bugs. You can set up your diffuser to diffuse for 30 minutes and then rest for 15. This will give the space a fresh, but not overwhelming, scent, that will only be noticed by mosquitos that are trying to suck your, your friends, and your children’s blood. 


You can only wear long sleeves and long pants for so long. Babies are supposed to be covered for two months, but how are you expected to stay covered in the heat of the summer? Arming yourself with the right insect repellents to keep you itch-free all summer long isn’t easy, but it can be done. Bug bites have become much scarier in the most recent years. From Lyme disease to the Zika virus, you don’t know what could happen from one little bite. Most commercial products contain oils anyway. By making your own oil combination, you’re saving yourself, your loved ones, the environment, and your money f. It sounds like a win-win situation to me. Essential oils have so many more benefits than just being used as bug repellents and this article only gives you a glimpse of them. 

In addition to diffusing an essential oil blend or applying it as a diluted spray, you can use the wind to your benefit. Especially in the summer, it’s very common to use fans. If you’re sitting on your porch on a hot summer night, turn on the fan. Mosquitos can’t maneuver as well in the wind so they’ll have a harder time getting to you. Mosquitos also love still water, so fill puddles with dirt and change birdbaths regularly. You can now get excited for summer nights because you know how to stay bug-free all season. 

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