We looked at the hard evidence to see if lavender & its derivatives were effective as a natural mosquito repellent and/or mosquito killer.
Summary of Scientific Research
Known also as Lavandula angustifolia, lavender is well-known among home gardeners for their ability to repel and resist the hungry gaze of grazing animals such as deer and rabbits. While the plants themselves have been shown to produce negligible mosquito repellant properties, this plant is most often prized for its essential oil form.
This essential oil (and the plant from which it derives) contains a compound known as linalool, which produces a strong odor that is pleasant to humans and detestable to mosquitos. This is primarily because it overloads their sensitive olfactory organs, much in the same manner as DEET (1).
In terms of testing, a 2009 study found that lavender oil possessed a 93% repellant rate against mosquitos indoors and only around a 53% repellant rate against mosquitoes outdoors (2). Taken together, lavender oil is one of the most effective natural mosquito repellants, especially when used as part of a larger natural repellant regimen.
Anecdotal sources generally follow in the same path as recent scientific research, pointing to the active compound within lavender as an explanation as to why it is able to keep mosquitoes at bay. These auxiliary sources also point to the belief that lavender oil works best when used in tandem with other natural methods of repelling mosquitos.
For example, one source pointed to research from Colorado State University that posited the belief that lavender oil paired best with cinnamon oil, tea tree oil or citronella oil in order to create fully-fledged olfactory mosquito shield (that is not also harsh on human noses) (3).
Also, out of the many natural mosquito-repelling options derived from flowering plants, lavender is certainly one of the most beloved for its visual appeal. Few other flowers produce such a rich violet color when in bloom. Also, few other flowering plants can protect themselves and those around it as lavender can due to their chemical composition. As such, lavender makes a great (and ultimately) productive addition to a flower garden.
Forms of Lavender & Where to Get
- Lavender plant – The lavender plant comes in a variety of subtypes, with each variation producing a vibrant purple flower that is as useful as it is beautiful. For example, in its natural form, Lavandula angustifolia is able to concentrate enough of its bitter linalool compound in its body to prevent nibbling critters from chowing down on their vibrant blooms.
- In terms of growth and planting, lavender requires fairly aired conditions with full sun and circulation in order to thrive. Experts have also found that individual plants do best when plant 1 foot apart in alkaline soil (pH between 6.7 and 7.3) (4). Drainage is also essential to lavender plant maintenance, to prevent fungus from forming on the plant.
- While scientific studies have not yet covered this domain, there is anecdotal evidence to show that even the presence of lavender plants can produce enough ambient linalool to keep small swarms of mosquitoes away.
- The most vibrant lavender blooms can almost always be found at a local plant nursery. However, if you are looking to start your lavender patch from scratch, you can find seeds here.
- Essential Oil – When it comes to repelling mosquitoes, lavender’s essential oil form takes the prize for effectiveness both indoors and outdoors. This repellant quality can be traced by to its high concentrations of linalool, which can sometimes top out at 25% depending on the oil’s composition. As such, making or using this type of essential can really make a difference in how often you are bitten by these pesky bugs.
- For folks looking to try out lavender essential oil on its own, you can pick it up online here.
- Meanwhile, you can also make your own lavender essential oil using lavender plants grown in your own yard. To do so, follow these preparation steps:
- Boil 1.5 cups of olive oil
- Add 2 cups of lavender plants (buds and stems) and simmer for 30 minutes
- Cool and strain twice – once through a colander, once with a coffee press
- Refrigerate in an airtight container until mixture becomes cloudy
1 –Syed Z, Leal WS. Mosquitoes smell and avoid the insect repellent DEET. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008;105:13598–13603. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805312105.
2 – Müller GC, Junnila A, Butler J, Kravchenko VD, Revay EE, Weiss RW, Schlein Y. Efficacy of the botanical repellents geraniol, linalool, and citronella against mosquitoes. 2009 Jun;34(1):2-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1948-7134.2009.00002.x.
Other Plants & Herbs as Mosquito Repellents
Checkout our analysis of other plants & herbs as natural mosquito repellents: