What bugs do citronella plants repel?

Citronella plants, also known as Cymbopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus, are a popular choice for gardeners and homeowners looking for natural ways to repel insects. These plants are native to tropical regions and are known for their strong citrus aroma, which is derived from the essential oils found in their leaves. While citronella plants are primarily associated with repelling mosquitoes, their bug-repelling properties extend beyond these pesky insects. In this article, we will explore the various bugs that citronella plants can help repel and how they can be a valuable addition to your outdoor spaces.

1. Mosquitoes

One of the main reasons citronella plants are so popular is their ability to repel mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance, but can also carry diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and West Nile virus. The strong scent of citronella acts as a natural deterrent to these blood-sucking pests. The key component responsible for this repellent effect is citronella oil, which is found in abundance in the leaves of these plants.
When citronella plants are crushed or their leaves bruised, they release citronella oil, which emits a scent that masks the attractants mosquitoes use to locate their prey, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. This confuses the mosquitoes and disrupts their feeding patterns, reducing the likelihood of them landing on humans or animals in the area. However, it’s important to note that while citronella plants can provide some level of mosquito control, they may not be completely effective in eliminating all mosquitoes in an area.

2. Flies

In addition to mosquitoes, citronella plants can also help repel various types of flies. Flies are not only a nuisance, they can also spread disease and contaminate food. The strong scent of citronella plants acts as a natural repellent to flies, discouraging them from landing on surfaces or entering certain areas.
Citronella plants can be particularly effective in repelling houseflies, fruit flies and stable flies. The scent of citronella interferes with their ability to locate food sources and disrupts their mating patterns. By planting citronella plants near doorways, windows, or outdoor seating areas, you can create a barrier that discourages flies from entering your home or buzzing around your outdoor gatherings.

3. Gnats

Gnats, also known as mosquitoes or no-see-ums, are tiny flying insects that can be a nuisance, especially in humid and damp environments. These bugs are attracted to human sweat and can inflict irritating bites. Fortunately, citronella plants can help repel mosquitoes and provide relief from their incessant buzzing and biting.

The strong scent of citronella plants masks the scent of human sweat, which is a primary attractant for mosquitoes. By planting citronella near outdoor seating areas, patios or garden areas, you can create a more pleasant environment and minimize the annoyance caused by mosquitoes. Keep in mind, however, that citronella plants may not provide complete protection against mosquitoes, especially in heavily infested areas.

4. Ants

While citronella plants are best known for repelling flying insects, they can also repel crawling pests such as ants. Ants can be a nuisance both indoors and outdoors, invading your kitchen, pantry, or garden. Citronella plants emit a strong scent that disrupts the trails ants use to navigate, making it harder for them to find food sources or establish new colonies.

To use citronella plants for ant control, you can place potted plants near entry points, windowsills, or areas where you frequently encounter ant activity. The presence of citronella plants can act as a deterrent and help prevent ants from entering your home or garden. In addition, you can use crushed citronella leaves as a natural repellent by placing them directly in ant trails or areas where ants are known to frequent.

5. Moths

Citronella plants can also repel moths, which can be a nuisance outdoors, especially in the evening and at night. Moths are attracted to light sources and may flutter around outdoor lamps, porch lights, or any area with artificial lighting. By strategically placing Citronella plants near these light sources, you can discourage moths from congregating and minimize their presence.
The strong scent emitted by citronella plants masks the scent of light and disrupts the orientation of moths. This can help reduce the number of moths attracted to your outdoor lighting fixtures, making your evenings more enjoyable. However, it’s important to note that citronella plants may not be as effective at repelling certain types of moths, such as clothes moths, that are attracted to fabrics and textiles indoors.

In conclusion, citronella plants are a natural and aromatic solution for repelling a variety of insects. Their strong citrus scent, derived from citronella oil, acts as a deterrent to mosquitoes, flies, gnats, ants and moths. By strategically placing citronella plants in your outdoor spaces, you can create a more pleasant environment while reducing the annoyance and potential health risks associated with these bugs. However, it’s important to note that while citronella plants can provide some level of bug control, they may not be completely effective in eliminating all bugs in an area. It’s always a good idea to combine citronella with other preventative measures, such as proper hygiene and the use of insect repellents, to maximize bug protection in your environment.


What bugs do Citronella plants repel?

Citronella plants are known for repelling mosquitoes. The strong aroma of citronella masks other scents that attract mosquitoes, making it an effective natural mosquito repellent.

Do Citronella plants repel other insects besides mosquitoes?

While Citronella plants are primarily known for their mosquito-repelling properties, they may also discourage other insects such as flies and gnats to some extent. However, their effectiveness in repelling non-mosquito insects may vary.

How do Citronella plants repel bugs?

Citronella plants contain a natural oil called citronella oil, which is known for its insect-repellent properties. The strong scent of citronella oil masks the scents that attract bugs, making it difficult for them to locate their targets.

Can Citronella plants eliminate bugs completely?

No, Citronella plants cannot eliminate bugs completely. While they can help deter mosquitoes and some other insects, their effect is limited to the immediate vicinity of the plant. To effectively control bugs, it is advisable to use a combination of approaches, including proper sanitation, insect screens, and other insect repellents.

Can I use Citronella plants indoors to repel bugs?

Citronella plants can be grown indoors, but their ability to repel bugs may be less effective compared to outdoor use. The confined space and limited air circulation indoors may diminish the impact of the plant’s scent. It is often more practical to use other indoor-specific bug repellents or methods for controlling insects inside your home.