Having already looked at more sustainable ways of preventing mosquitos, this is a question on living with the remaining ones without getting bitten so much. What methods are there to avoid getting bitten. I have tried Zodia. This is big around Jakarta. Contrary to popular belief, mosquitos don't seemed to be bothered by the presence of the plant. However, when I lightly dust the leaves against my skin, I don't get bit and the effect lasts all night. In other words, the plant does not appear to drive away mosquitos but it does appear to interfere with their feeding on blood. The big downside is that I can smell it all night long. So far this has been the best success.

Are there any other plants I should be looking at (preferably that are available in tropical areas)?

  • I am surprised neem oil hasn't been mentioned in the answers so far: I haven't given myself too much deliberate exposure to swarms of mosquitos yet, but a. it is well-known to be a powerful repellant against several classes of insects including mosquitos and b. I can tell you for (non horse or marsh) flies, it WORKS. There are two varieties of neem, the one here is the one native to India - it is thus perfect for the tropics and in fact can only grow in climates closer to the equator like where you are. Try pure neem (seed) oil, on the skin, and see if you can tolerate its strong, nutty smell.
    – user487
    Dec 5, 2014 at 4:34

5 Answers 5


I live in a subtropical region (central Queensland coast) and have been looking at the same thing, being eaten alive by mosquitos and I really are not a fan of chemical based repellents.

According to Australia's ABC Gardening Australia fact sheet Fact Sheet: Pest-Management Plants, there are 3 main functions that pest/mosquito repelling plants can possess:

1: Plants that mask scents

include thyme, lavender and scented geranium. These produce strong, volatile oils and scent that actually masks the plants the insects might be looking for.

2: Plants that actively repel

such as cotton lavender or santolina, tansy and wormwood. These plants produce a scent or taste that is so bitter or putrid it drives insects away.

3: Plants that contain substances toxic to the insects

the dried flower of pyrethrum or chopped chilli, which can be used as insect sprays.

One popular natural repellent that comes up quite often on the internet is oil derived Citronella grasses, according to the Oil of Citronella fact sheet.

  • 1
    Thanks. I suspect that Zodia is in the scent-masking category. There's a popular belief that it drives away mosquitos but that is easily shown to be false. I am going to look into wormwood etc. Mar 2, 2014 at 1:34

The two methods I have used recently is:
1. smoke - I have worked with a cigar which helped keep mosquitoes away. I have also had a controlled burning with much smoke which will help very much depending on the environmental conditions. I was working down in a swampy area and the smoke dropped into the swamp bottom and helped much.
2. onion - I take one bite of an onion and chew it until it is liquid. I then swallow it. This seemed to work well for me.

I encourage experimentation. If you are going to do an experiment - then go into the area without any repellent. Pay attention to the number of mosquitoes that land on you. Then try out your repellent and compare the differences.


I lived in the tropics for a year. The three repellants that seem to work well are either:

1) Permetherin - a common insecticide and repellant. It's safe enough to use on your clothes and camping gear, but not directly on skin. It's also effective as a general insecticide around the house.

2) Citronella incense - very easy to get a hold of and it'll keep your house clear of mosquitoes as long as it's burning.

3) DEET - the most common active ingredient in commercial insect repellants. It can be bought in a variety of concentrations, upto 100%, but anything above 5% is plenty to ward off mosquitoes in my experience.

I haven't found any homeopathic or natural insect repellants that have any effect at all. Slather it on and 2 minutes later, mosquitos are landing right on top of it.

  • I have actually found Zodia to work pretty well. The catch is it doesn't repel mosquitos. it only seems to keep them from biting, so if you brush yourself with the plant the mosquitos will land on you but won't bite. Weird stuff.... Aug 16, 2014 at 11:31
  • You apply it to your skin? I haven't found many sources about Zodia other than a few blogs. Aug 18, 2014 at 9:17
  • Yeah. I found out that's the way the people from Papua use it (brush the plant against your skin). Aug 18, 2014 at 9:45

I've found that, if you aren't apposed to something genetically engineered, the Mosquito Shoo Geranium has some use. It doesn't drive away mosquitoes, as advertised, but it does contain citronella, and when rubbed over bare skin it works well.

Note: Those with a lot of allergies shouldn't try this, or perhaps on only a small area at first. Also, be aware that this is a genetically altered plant.

Where I am (southeastern Pennsylvania) they must be brought indoors overwinter; they're more of a warm climate plant.

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Bats and dragonflies seem to be the most effective mosquito control agents.

  • 3
    Welcome to Sustainable Living! I think the OP is looking for plants or substances that drive away mosquitos, not preditor animals. This question focuses more on other methods of mosquito control.
    – THelper
    Dec 3, 2014 at 19:31

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