Old wives’ tales have long told of garlic as an effective mosquito repellant due to its pungent odor. While this methodology tracks with current understandings of how mosquitoes identify their pray, garlic, in particular, is not an effective mosquito repellant. While a 2011 literature review found that garlic was moderately effective when rubbed on the skin, they concluded that there were “far more effective [natural] repellents available that also have a more pleasing odour” (1).

Along the same lines, popular conception has long held that eating garlic is a good method of preventing mosquitoes from locking onto your location. Presumably, this premise operates under the assumption that the garlic smell would be digested and permeate outwards through the consumer’s skin. In any case, the same 2011 literature review concluded simply that consuming garlic has “not been shown to be effective at repelling mosquitoes” in any type of scientific testing (1).

In this case, the science speaks for itself. Even as some anecdotal evidence points to its usefulness, garlic is likely not the most efficient option when trying to abate mosquitoes through natural methods. What’s more, garlic consumption and topical application carries with it a pungent and socially-offensive smell that others in the wearer’s presence may find unpleasant.

That being said, garlic goes not carry with it any proven risk for dermal irritation. As such, it may be safely used for individuals who have found other natural methods ineffective and are sensitive to more acidic options. Moreover, garlic plants may produce small amounts of their strong odor while still growing. Accordingly, a garlic plant or two may be placed in a secluded area in order to ward off small groups of mosquitoes.

Forms of Garlic and Where to Get Them

  • Plants and Bulbs

    Garlic, in its bulb form, is readily available at most any brick-and-mortar or online supermarkets due to their broad use as a cooking ingredient. By the same virtue, pre-minced garlic is also widely available and may be used for many of the same uses as whole bulb garlic.

    Most types of store-bought bulb garlic are infertile, however, and cannot be planted. As such, specialized garlic bulb plants can be purchased in store or online in order to maintain a personal garlic supply at home. 

    When obtained, garlic bulbs should always be planted around 5 weeks before the first expected ground freeze. Individual bulbs should be broken up and planted as cloves, with the point end planted upward. After covering in a few inches of soil, add straw to provide insulation during the coming winter. If done properly, new plants will take root and flourish by spring (2).

  • Sprays

    While a topical application of garlic is not considered effective, you may consider directly applying garlic to a mosquito problem area in order to disperse their presence. This may be accomplished with a spray that can be made with the following steps:

    1. Blend 4 cloves of garlic
    2. Strain and add to 1 gallon of water
    3. Pour into spray bottle and shake well
    4. Spray in areas where mosquitoes tend to breed, particularly around birdbaths and other small pools of stagnating water on your property
  • Consumption

    As noted, garlic consumption has not been proven as an effective method of abating mosquitoes. However, garlic can be added into a variety of homemade dishes to add an extra degree of zest. Due to its very strong odor and undeluded taste, garlic should not be consumed directly.