8 scents that deter mosquitoes – organic and effective tricks to keep these pests away

These scents are loved by humans for their aesthetic and therapeutic qualities – but they're repelled by the notorious fly

Grapefruit on a white background
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Mosquitoes may be best associated with summer – but in some cases  – this pest can still pose problems when the sunny season concludes. If you live in a particularly sunny climate, it is unlikely that you will see the end of the notorious fly any time soon – so knowing how to get rid of mosquitoes will never go out of date.  

Some of the most impactful prevention methods involve tedious tidying routines and pesticide sprays that can feel rigorous and expensive. However, not all anti-mosquito tactics are a chore. Instead, there are some flowers and oils that deter the pest from your home – while filling your space with sweet scents and (in some cases) vibrant color. 

Swarm of mosquitoes in a field

(Image credit: GettyImages)

8 scents that deter mosquitoes – for aromatic relief from the pest

You may know about the colors that attract or repel mosquitoes, but what about the impact of scent? Here are the eight mosquito-repellent plants, oils, and foods that make repelling mosquitos more pleasurable. 

1. Marigolds

Marigolds in a field

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'Believe it or not, marigolds (yes, the beautiful flowers) are actually one of the most effective scents that deter mosquitoes,' says the Mosquito Magician. The expert referred to a study by researchers in the 90s that suggests this flower omits insecticides that are toxic to mosquitoes. 

'Because it’s just a flower, it’s perfectly safe to have around family and pets, but highly toxic to mosquitoes,' they say. And while it can help to introduce this flower into your garden ideas, it is even better to use a marigold essential oil (such as this one on Amazon) that could be more effective. 

2. Eucalyptus 

Eucalyptus plant

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Eucalyptus is one of the most hated smells among mosquitoes, according to Melanie Rose from Nationwide Pest Control

'The reason these smells deter mosquitoes is because they produce chemicals that mosquitoes don't like, namely linalool and geraniol.' This is why you often find scents like eucalyptus are used in soaps and candles that are used that keep bugs away from your home.

3. Grapefruit

Grapefruit on a white background

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'Grapefruit is a refreshing summertime treat packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. But when it comes to repelling mosquitoes, a compound called nootkatone is a hero,' explains Scot Hodges, the vice president of professional development for Arrow Exterminators

You can use the nootkatone in your grapefruit to deter misquotes from your home or garden, but it's even more than a pest deterrent. 'Not only can you snack on grapefruit, but you can use grapefruit oil on your skin, too,' Scot adds. 

4. Mint

Mint growing in a container

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Mint may be a staple kitchen garden idea, but it has its uses against mosquitoes, too. 

'If you have mint plants in your garden, you may have noticed that they attract lots of bees—but not mosquitoes,' says Melody Estes from The Project Girl. This is because mosquitoes don't like minty smells.

'If you have some mint growing nearby, maybe consider putting some in pots outside to keep those pesky bugs out of your backyard.'

5. Lemongrass 


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lemongrass contains citronella oil – perhaps the most famous of mosquito repellent scents. But how can you introduce this plant into your scheme? You can start by knowing how to grow lemongrass in your garden, or, for a delectable solution, you can bring the kitchen.

'Swap your summer glass of lemonade for a chilled glass of lemongrass tea, or carefully use lemongrass oil on your skin for a quick mosquito repellent,' Scott suggests. 

6. Lavender 

lavender in sussex

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Lavender is one of the most famous mosquito repellents, but it's easy to see its appeal. Melanie explains that, while the pest dislikes its distinctive scent, the same smell has a calming effect on humans – which is why it's often used as an essential oil for aromatherapy and meditation. 

Knowing how to grow lavender in your yard or arranging it in a vase is one way to keep mosquitoes at bay. Or you can choose one of the best candles on the market, many of which are infused with this powerful scent.

7. Pine oil 

Bottle of pine oil on a wooden table

(Image credit: GettyImages)

With its pleasantly woody aroma, it can be hard not to take joy in pine oil. However, while this scent will always have a place amongst the best-selling essential oils, it should have an equal spot amid your decorating ideas too. 

Zackary DeAngelis from Pest Pointers LLC explains that the scent of the pine oil 'will overpower and confuse a mosquito's senses, limiting its ability to detect you' and keeping you safe from bites. 

'To use pine oil as a mosquito repellent, one great way is to place rags with pine oil outside of your windows, porch, or doors,' the expert suggests. 'You'll have to refresh the rags every few days, but you could also use this method specifically on days where you're more likely to have mosquitoes for easier application.'

8. Chili peppers

Chilli plants

(Image credit: Future/Camilla Reynolds)

If you can stand a healthy amount of spice, it may be worth incorporating chilies into your diet, especially over summer when mosquito activity is at a high. 'These peppers are known to repel mosquitoes thanks to capsaicin, a heat-producing compound that the fly doesn’t like,' Scot says. 

So, while this kitchen idea is not for every palette, it is worth considering adding a kick to your dishes to keep the pest away. 

What smells do mosquitoes hate?

Mosquitoes hate the smell of lavender, citronella, clove, peppermint, basil, cedarwood, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and rosemary.

They also hate smells such as smoke, for further insight, see our exploration on, does smoke keep mosquitoes away?

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.