The smell of citronella candles may bring back memories of family barbeques and warm summer nights. Unfortunately, in terms of protection from pesky bugs, smelling nice and nostalgic is really all they do.
According to a study published in the Journal of Vector Ecology, although citronella in essential oil form can deter bugs, citronella candles don’t contain enough active ingredients to prevent mosquitoes from getting all up in your personal space. Further, the study found that candles generally release their active ingredients vertically from the flame, minimizing the area these active ingredients can reach. (Diffusers, on the other hand, continuously release active ingredients horizontally, covering more of the room or area. But more on that below.)
If backyard bugs are harshing your vibe, you’re likely looking for easy and effective ways to keep them at bay. While you may be tempted to cover your yard in chemicals, LJ Brubaker, a volunteer entomology research assistant at the Ward Lab of Drexel University in Philadelphia, says chemical treatments often do more harm than good.
“I wouldn’t recommend any kind of insecticidal treatment because they are not effective for a single species,” Brubaker told HuffPost. “They’ll impact other plants and animals and insects that you want and need to have around.”
According to the American Mosquito Control Association , electric, ultrasonic and/or other “bug traps” or zapping devices generally have the same outcome. While these devices may get rid of some mosquitoes, they’re often harmful for “non-pest” insects and animals you want around, like songbirds. Additionally, many marketed “mosquito traps” often demand lots of setting up and maintenance, leaving room for human error to make them way less effective.
But don’t be dismayed! While citronella candles and chemical spreads may not make the cut this summer, we’ve rounded up a bunch of backyard items scientifically proven to protect you from bugs.
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