How Does Citronella Keep Bugs Away?
It’s the middle of July and summer has officially arrived, driving sun-deprived workers out into the great outdoors to enjoy a bit of warm weather. Unfortunately, mosquitos also enjoy the summer heat so we keep them at bay by stocking our decks and campsites with citronella. You may have asked yourself, ‘How DOES citronella keep bugs away?’ and we are here to answer that question.
Oil of citronella is an all-natural insect and animal repellent made from the distilled oils of different varieties of grass, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. The main components in the oil are citronellol, citronellal and geraniol. Although those components may seem unpronounceable and thus a bit scary, citronella has actually been approved for use as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration and has been used in many foods and drinks as a flavoring agent for more than 50 years. It has been labeled as a low risk pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Now that we know what it is, let’s look at how it works.
Unlike other varieties of pesticides, citronella not does kill mosquitos rather it repels them and other pests, reducing the number of mosquitos that land nearby. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario studied the effectiveness of citronella by using candles with a three percent concentration of the oil. The citronella candles effectively reduced mosquito landings by 42 percent, according to their study published in the National Institute of Health library.
Citronella works by masking scents that are attractive to insects namely carbon dioxide and lactic acid in humans according to the NPIC.
One benefit of using citronella as mosquito repellent is that it is safe and non-toxic to humans and animals (and even the insects). Although some people can have mild allergic reactions to the oil, even ingesting citronella will not affect humans it is simply broken down and passed out of the body through urine.
In recent years, those who frequently spend time in the great outdoors have drifted away from purchasing citronella candles in favor of higher-concentration citronella bands, spots and collars. This kind of citronella product is not affected by the elements. It is worn on the body and is more effective than candles in windy weather or for those who are competing in outdoor sports.