Mosquitoes are scary pests. The bite of the mosquito may seem small and irritating because it’s a bit itchy. But the danger lies in the organisms that these insects can introduce into a person’s body. They bring very dangerous diseases, including West Nile disease, dengue fever, malaria, and a type of virus that causes encephalitis or brain inflammation. So, these pesky flying bugs won’t just dampen your time outdoors. They will actually threaten your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Because of the danger that mosquitoes bring, you need to make sure that your area is mosquito-free. You’re most probably using insecticides to ward off mosquitoes. Or maybe you’re often using insecticide heating mats or burning mosquito coils. But have you ever thought about the detrimental effects of using these kinds of things? Notice the signs that usually come with such products. Some say, “Harmful to health” or “Toxic when ingested/inhaled/handled.” So are you willing to have these things around you all the time where there’s danger to you, your pets, and most especially to your kids? Due to safety issues regarding the use of chemical pesticides and because these substances add to environmental harm, more people are opting for greener solutions to their pest problems. If you are looking for a safer way to deter mosquitoes, the use of essential oil is a popular alternative.
Citronella oil is actually a very popular insect repellent. The oil smells citrusy and fresh, and it’s widely used in perfumery. It’s also an ingredient in candle-making, cosmetics, and it can be used to flavor food as well. If it’s used with food, then it’s safe to consume; and thus, it’s definitely safe to have around at home.
Citronella Oil versus Mosquitoes
Several studies have proven the efficacy of citronella against mosquitoes, particularly the Aedes aegypti, which is the one that causes dengue hemorrhagic fever. It’s also good to note that the topical application of citronella oil is pretty safe. Many experts and leading environmental agencies assert that the toxicity level of citronella to humans is little to none. Still, people must be careful when applying concentrated citronella oil directly on the skin as there have also been reports of the oil causing skin irritations. Some even claim that the oil can increase the heart rate. In addition to mosquitoes, the oil also keeps away body and head lice.
Citronella only offers some protection against mosquitoes. So, it’s best to use the oil with other natural insect repellents.
Before slathering on citronella oil, a skin or patch test is recommended so that skin allergies or any untoward reaction is noted. When there’s some allergic reaction to the oil, it’s best to consult a dermatologist or a doctor first before application. If the oil is applied on the skin, it’s important to reapply citronella-based creams, moisturizers or oils every 20 to 30 minutes as the smell can quickly dissipate. Also, highly concentrated oils should be mixed with carrier oils to prevent skin irritations.
Citronella-scented candles or incense sticks are safer than chemically saturated mosquito coils. The scent is about 40% effective in keeping mosquitoes away. So, it will be very helpful to light as many candles as possible when outdoors.
- Photo courtesy of SweetCrisis at www.freedigitalphotos.net.
Claire Trent is a freelance blogger who offers tips regarding the management of mosquitoes and other pests, like bed bugs, termites, rodents, and roaches. She also writes about DC pest control.