Lemons (and citrus fruit at large) have seen some discussion as a natural mosquito deterrent in folk medicine circles for some time, likely as a correlation between the strong odors produced by lemons and their potential ability to fool a mosquito’s highly sensitive olfactory organs. While this falls in line with modern understandings of how mosquitoes identify their prey, lemons have not been shown to be productive at accomplishing this desired task.
As it stands, scientific research into lemon’s productivity and safety in this domain are very sparse. While a 2006 study did include lemon oils among their 41 tested plant extracts, it was not found to be within the top five most effective when it came to deterring mosquitoes (1). Beyond this, few other scientific sources have reliably tested lemons, their juices, or their oils, for use in this domain.
While scientific studies have not been undertaken to support this conclusion, general knowledge does dictate that lemon juice is an irritant when applied to the skin or when in contact with the eyes. As such, it should always be properly deluded when applied for individual testing.
Because of the general lack of scientific studies examining lemon’s effectiveness when it comes to blocking a mosquito’s hungry gaze, it’s difficult to put any stock into this folk remedy. Even without a productive effect on its own, lemon can certainly be added to a variety of other natural mosquito deterrents in order to delude malodorous side effects (such as those produced by basil or garlic).
Also, there is a strong possibility that the misconceptions surrounding lemon’s effectiveness in this domain are a result of misunderstandings regarding other well-known natural mosquito repellants. This includes lemon thyme and lemon eucalyptus, which are both named due to their natural citrus-y aromas and not because they include any actual lemons in their compositional makeup. Lemon eucalyptus, in particular, may be driving this misconception to its wide availability as a very effective commercial spray.
Forms of Lemon and Where to Get Them
Lemons, in their whole form, are available at most supermarkets. Similarly, concentrated lemon juice can be procured on its own from online sources, allowing you to add a citrus-y aroma to any other natural mosquito repellant you may concoct at home.
As with other essential oils, lemon oil is widely available from online sources. Though it is primarily used for aroma therapy, lemon oil may be implemented much in the same manner as lemon juice (that is, to olfactorily enhance another natural mosquito repellant).
1 – Amer & Mehlhorn Amer A, Mehlhorn H. Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes. Parasitology Research. 2006; 99:478–488. doi: 10.1007/s00436-006-0184-1
Other Plants & Herbs as Mosquito Repellents
Checkout our analysis of other plants & herbs as natural mosquito repellents: