Does smoke keep mosquitoes away? Experts say yes – but with exceptions

There are many methods that can protect you from the bothersome bites of mosquitoes, but can smoke be one of them?

Does smoke keep mosquitoes away? Mosquitoes flying in the air in a green garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fortunately, there are many scents and products that can deter mosquitoes, from natural plants and oils, to manufactured chemicals such as DEET found in bug repellent sprays, but does smoke keep mosquitoes away?

Nobody wants to have to deal with a swarm of flying insects and itchy bites when enjoying the outdoors and relaxing in the garden, with many of us going to great efforts to to get rid of mosquitoes, including filling our yards and homes with mosquito repellent plants. But can smoke also be used as an effective method  and help keep these biters at bay?

We explore what kind of smoke repels mosquitoes and whether smoke can work just as well as the other tried and tested methods to drive away these notoriously aggravating flies.

Does smoke keep mosquitoes away? 

When examining whether smoke keeps mosquitoes away, it is pretty clear that it depends on many factors, such as the type of mosquito, as well as if the smoke is used in combination with other scents – so in many cases, it is not as easy as simply lighting a fire.

Most pests, including mosquitoes, will want to stay away from smoke and heat, as the smoke will saturate the air, creating an uncomfortable environment, and for insects like mosquitoes, making it harder for them to fly through the air.

Entomologist Abby Lehner says that 'different mosquito species can be affected by smoke produced by burning essential oils, campfires or candles. Campfires are thought to be a cheap and easy way to repel mosquitoes. However, the efficiency of campfire smoke in repelling mosquitoes depends on where you are, what species of mosquito you want to repel, and what you are burning. Some mosquito species do not react to smoke, while others are easily repelled.'

What kind of smoke repels mosquitoes?

Gardening expert, Lindsey Hyland, founder of Urban Organic Yield states: 'There are many different types of smokes that repel mosquitoes, but the most effective ones are those that contain citronella oil. Mosquitoes don't like the smell of citronella, and there are several products on the market that contain citronella oil, such as candles, lanterns, and aerosols.'

The smell of smoke from your backyard fire pit or outdoor fireplace will be sure to irritate mosquitoes, but for a fully effective repellent method, the smoke needs to have the correct aroma.

Lehner says, 'smoke mixed with mosquito repelling compounds, like lemon or eucalyptus oil, are effective against a variety of species and will help protect you from mosquitoes, I recommend burning Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle.'

Other aromatic herbs and plants you can burn on a fire to help repel mosquitoes include lavender, mint, rosemary and sage – the pungent, fragrant smells are unpleasant for the mosquitoes – with these herbs and plants often included in homemade bug sprays.

Is smoke a good bug repellent?

Yes, smoke is a good bug repellent; the strong, distinct odor is unpleasant and uncomfortable for bugs including mosquitoes, so they will try and avoid both the smell and the heat.

Whether it is smoke from a citronella candle, firepit or mosquito coil, such as this product from Amazon, a cloud of aromatic smoke and a heat barrier will work in unison to deter mosquitoes and prevent them lingering.

Smoke is a good option for when you are spending long evenings sat outdoors in fall and winter around a firepit, or with candles on a table in summer.

What will keep mosquitoes away?

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are highly attracted to us humans, with many of us asking, why do mosquitoes love me?

As well as smoke, there are many other smells, including the top 8 scents that deter mosquitoes, plants that mosquitoes hate, mosquito repellent products to buy and even colors that repel mosquitoes that can be used to keep them away. Even the moving air of fans keep mosquitoes away.

For a more comprehensive list on mosquito repellents, explore the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) registered repellents list.

Zara Stacey
Managing Editor

Zara is the Managing Editor at Homes & Gardens. She joined the brand in February 2022 as an Interiors Content Editor, specializing in writing content on interior color trends, decorating ideas and design inspiration. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.