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The 13 Best Mosquito Repellents (Including Kid-Friendly Stickers, All-Natural Sprays, And Beautiful Bistro Lights)

OMG. Someone, please invite me to join your bar trivia team. I KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT MOSQUITOS NOW. I know that bar trivia topics are usually centered around things like “culture” or “history” or “things that people could reasonably be expected to know about,” but MAN. This mosquito intel is GOLDEN. Did you know they’re attracted to the CO2 and heat you give off? Or that they’re more attracted to people drinking beer? Or that only female mosquitoes bite? Or that they’re super sensitive to garlic, to the point where one researcher couldn’t get mosquitoes to bite him because he’d been eating so much Italian food? (That’s a real thing that happened in a Duke biology lab.)

On that topic: you know what else mosquitoes don’t like? EVERYTHING ON THIS LIST. Last month, we put out an ask to the EHD audience – can anyone recommend mosquito control gear that’s actually effective? – and boy, did you deliver! Today I’m highlighting just a few of our favorite effective anti-mosquito picks, from bistro lights that prevent bites (who knew those existed?) to a few landscaping solutions that’ll turn your yard into a long-term no-bug-zone. And if you just want to throw $50 bucks at the problem and have it fixed immediately…well, we’ve got a recommendation for that, too. 🙂

Our Top Pick

Thermacell E-90

When you post a question on Instagram and get 16 immediate and simultaneous answers that say “Thermacell,” it’s a pretty great indication that you’ve landed on a great product. This rechargeable Thermacell E-90 protects about 300 square feet in still conditions (check out some more heavy-duty options here!) and boasts a battery life of 9 hours. You will need to stock up on refills – a 120-hour pack will run about $50 more bucks – but it’s worth it for protection that actually, you know, protects.

Aesthetically-Appealing Options

Amazon | Target | Wayfair

It’s a Thermacell…in the sky. (Full disclosure: this was actually my favorite option.) If you’re going to light your exterior, why not opt for lights that will also make you more comfortable? (And get this: you can turn off repellency when you don’t need it, so they’re totally functional year-round.) The refills are a bit expensive – $72 for 200 hours of efficacy, or about 2.5 hours/night for 90 days – but if you’re a frequent entertainer (or if you just like sitting outside and enjoying some beautiful ambient light), this is absolutely the best mosquito repellant option for you!

50 Piece Citronella Tea Candles

I love these tea lights in particular – they’re super fairly priced (cheaper than Amazon!), cream-colored (not bright yellow!) and they have a perfect 4-hour burn time. I have found that these protect a pretty tiny radius – about 3 feet – but they also look so beautiful scattered around the hardscaping of a patio or yard! It’s a great way to create a mosquito barrier that won’t break the budget.

Bramble Damp-Rated Fan

Remember that tidbit about CO2 and heat? Fans keep the air circulating, which means less mosquito interest. There’s no need to splurge here – a box fan works just as well! – but if you’re ready to upgrade your outdoor oasis, our team is especially partial to the fans at Rejuvenation. (But whatever you do, make sure you’re only looking at options that are damp-rated and approved for covered outdoor usage!)

Budget-Friendly Fixes

Murphy’s Mosquito Repellant Incense | Madison James Flyaway Sticks

I gotta admit: these incense sticks are surprisingly effective. The Murphy’s smells of citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint; the Madison James is a mix of geranium, Texas cedar, clove, and some secret family ingredients. Both brands have a burn time of around 2.5 hours and both cost about a dollar per stick, too. If you have a small outdoor space (like a balcony!), just one of these will keep you comfortable all night.

Chewy | Amazon

Mosquito dunks are dissolving tablets to be used in any standing water. They contain a natural bacteria, found in soil, that’s fatal for mosquitos but nontoxic to other wildlife. Each tablet works for about 30 days and can treat about 100 square feet of water, so they’re a great budget buy that you can grab for under $10! (Pro tip: break your dunk into smaller pieces for treating birdbaths, troughs, and tiny ponds!)

Sprays And Stickers

BuzzPatch Sticker

Parents, rejoice!!! You no longer need to chase your kid around the house in an attempt to get them to wear bug spray! These non-woven fabric stickers are coated with all-natural oils that repel mosquitos – AND THEY ACTUALLY WORK, for up to 72 hours (though they’re markedly more effective in the first 8 hours). Simply throw a few patches on – 4 is the recommended number for kids 6 and up…including parents 🙂 – and you’ll be good to go. I was genuinely BLOWN AWAY by these.

Kinfield Golden Hour Spray | Kinfield Golden Hour Wipes

Clean ingredients that smell like a nostalgic summer memory? SIGN ME UP. Kinfield was a new-to-me brand (thank you to those who recommended them!) and I’m so excited to pass them on – this DEET-free spray uses Indian Citronella, lemongrass, clove, and a liiiiitle bit of vanilla to keep the bugs at bay. And if the spray’s scent is too strong for your tastes, give their mosquito repellant wipes a try! (Similar ingredients, lighter scent. Perfect for stashing in the car, too!)

Sawyer Picaridin Repellant

If the all-natural products aren’t cutting it and you’re in need of something with a bit more bite (pun intended?), this Sawyer repellant is the best picaridin (like DEET, but nontoxic) option on the market. It protects for up to 12 hours against mosquitoes and ticks and up to 8 hours against other annoying critters, like flies and gnats. The only caveat is that it can leave your skin feeling a little greasy, but it’s a small price to pay for being bite-free!

Environmental Solutions

As it turns out, we can use nature in our favor! If a summer filled with gardening sounds like fun to you, be sure to plant a bit of catnip, citronella, beautyberry, lemon balm, lavender, or marigolds around any of your favorite outdoor lounge spots. They’re beautiful (win) and mosquitos HATE the way each of these plants smell (double win!). A local gardening center can help advise. (And for the record: some of these aren’t safe for pets, so do your research if you have any furry friends who like to chow down on greenery!)

Outdoor Bat House

Never in my wildest dreams would I have EVER anticipated seeing so many testimonials from folks who say their bat houses totally annihilated their mosquito population. And since I wasn’t going to test it out in my apartment, I guess I’ll take them for their word? I did look into it, though, and bats can eat up to 7,000 bugs per night (again, ready to join your bar trivia team anytime), so they’re an extraordinary form of natural pest control if you have the space!

After The Bite

Amazon | Urban Outfitters

So you heeded none of my advice and got bit. WHAT NOW? Enter: these anti-itch patches, designed to soothe inflammation and stop the scratching. (Like a zit patch, but for your body.) Buyer be warned, these are INCREDIBLY sticky (in a good way, so they’re not coming off in the shower or pool; nor will you rip them off in a moment of itch-induced mania), so they’re best used for those super big, frustrating, monster bites.

Target | Amazon

It may take a few attempts to reach full efficacy (take it from experience!) but this thing ABSOLUTELY beats using your nails to make little X marks on all your annoying bites. (Why do we literally all do that?) Bug Bite Thing does take a little workshopping – maybe you need to hold it longer, or use it on the same bite more than once – but it’s also a cheap, awesome way to get insect residue from underneath your skin. (And it isn’t just for mosquitoes – it works on bites/stings from bees, wasps, ants, and more!)

Heat It – Smartphone Powered Bite Healer

This is – no joke – the most “holy crap, we’re living in the future” product on this list. Connect the Heat It to your iPhone (Android version here!), customize your heat level and duration, and slowly warm your itch away! The best part: it’s a one-time purchase and it doesn’t require any additional batteries, so you’ll be able to treat any future bites and discomfort with ease.

That brings us to the end of our EHD-approved mosquito control gear roundup…but I’m also only one gal, so I’m sure there are some great products and methods out there that I missed! Anyone wanna share their experience or recommendations with the class? We’re all ears. Have a great (and mosquito-free) weekend 🙂 xx

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Our Backyard Evolution – The Changes I Didn’t Tell You About And How The Trees Are Doing After The 2017 Massacre

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10 months ago

I appreciate these tips! How does the “Heat It” work exactly? I mean, I see that it applies heat to the bite, but how does that help? Do you apply it one time to take care of the bite?

10 months ago
Reply to  Alice
10 months ago
Reply to  Alice

Heat does relieve the itch, at least for a while. I’ve been told that the application of heat overwhelms the nerve endings sending the itch signal with a new stimulus – heat. I use a hair dryer, careful just to heat, not burn the skin. Obviously that’s not handy to keep in your purse! For me, the itch relief lasts several hours, usually overnight. Depending on the bite, that may take care of it.

10 months ago
Reply to  Alice

Hi Alice, it definitely helps! My sister and I both have “skeeter syndrome” and personally use another brand Bite Away. Before we knew about Bite Away, our bites would get incredibly itching for a couple of weeks and swell. I find Bite Away works best if you treat the bite earlier than later. We usually apply twice about 5 minutes apart. Just ordered Heat It to try since it’s more portable than my Bite Away and doesn’t rely on batteries.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago

That was really interesting!
Thanks, Caitlyn.
I only knew about 1/4 of those.

10 months ago

Love the practical round-up. Thank you, Caitlin! I’ve actually been wondering a lot how Emily’s family is doing with bugs on the farm. Do they have lots of mosquitoes there? And what about ticks??? (especially with the dogs?) We just moved from the city to a farm property, and this has been a massive adjustment for us. We’re at a size/level where items like the ones already on this list aren’t effective enough. Would be super interested to hear if this is an issue at Emily’s farm and, if so, how she’s managing it. Fellow reader suggestions also appreciated! 🙂

10 months ago
Reply to  Summer

I don’t know what region you’re in, but my husband & I each grew up very rural in the Midwest. We didn’t spray ourselves down every single day- we never wore shorts in certain areas, usually wore socks & shoes, covered our heads (bandana, baseball cap, etc), and often wore long sleeve shirts. (We used old button down work shirts of my dads-woven-so not too hot.) For berry picking on a 90 degree day we would be covered-other than our faces-hot, not cute, but keeps the ticks at a minimum.

For ticks, in the summer, we checked ourselves thoroughly every night.

Mowing certain areas can also help a lot-keeping paths mowed.

My assumption is you have figured out where the bugs are most intense & can adjust a bit accordingly. While we were often covered up in our woods & meadow, I wore my cute halter dresses into town for ice cream, etc.

I also would ask your neighbors & other people in your area-for region-specific advice. Where we lived this was just what you did, knowledge was passed down. Sprays were just too expensive and gross to be using all.the.time.

10 months ago
Reply to  K

Thanks, KJ! For me, it’s the tick checks for the kids that are the most stressful. (And our feral cat who won’t let us touch her, but sleeps in a part of the house… but that’s another story!) But, yeah, with the kids my teenage son found a tiny, tiny one in his belly button that he missed at first and was SO HARD to remove. And I just think, chances that we never miss one when they are that small and so obsessed with burying in crevices are like … zero??? I’m constantly torn between the “we need to just be able to enjoy this land” and “don’t step off the paths EVER!!!” Ha, ha.

10 months ago
Reply to  Summer

Portland typically doesn’t have a lot of mosquitoes or ticks—we’re starting to see them a bit more now, but when I was a teen in the 00s there were basically none at all. Big change when I moved from North Carolina as a kid! But even with the changes over the last few years, I almost never have to think about mosquito prevention unless I’m near some gross standing water late in the summer. For ticks, I do checks after hikes further east in the state.

10 months ago
Reply to  Summer

Chickens eat tons of ticks, if that’s an animal that would thrive on your land! We lived in NH for the first 8 years of our kids lives and did daily tick checks for much of the year, and I know how stressful it is to worry about missing one when you live in an area with high risk for Lyme, etc.

10 months ago

Love this—thank you! And looking into the bath houses now…

10 months ago

The TIKI LED lights look awesome, but the reviews state the pods are not refillable and that a set of three replacement pods costs around $75 which sadly makes this a pretty expensive option. We use Thermacell and have found them very effective in the DC area.

10 months ago

I’m a big fan of Dynatrap!

Cici Haus
10 months ago

My husband and I are on opposite ends of the mosquito spectrum. He’ll say “Man I was eaten alive out there!” and I’m like “huh? There were mosquitos?” So he generally doesn’t enjoy the outdoors in the summer. I’ve always been skeptical about these working but I’m open to it!

10 months ago
Reply to  Cici Haus

I’ve always figured the best trick is to sit by someone, like your husband, that the bugs like better than me! That’s hard for me as I seem to be a skeeter-magnet!

10 months ago

Our Walmart has been selling Citronella plants. They smell amazing and have a pretty/floppy ruffled leaf. Pretty cool, regardless how well they work. I keep two potted on the deck. You can winter them indoors too although I haven’t tried yet.

10 months ago

TICKS! Mosquitos suck (ha!) but ticks can make your family and dogs sick. Although it’s more prevalent in the NE and northern MidWest, it is found in Oregon and as far south as Florida. And it is spreading. Please please consider using chemical tick repellant when outdoors, it will keep away mosquitos, too. And you don’t need to be in the deep woods to encounter ticks – tall grass when you’re chasing a soccer ball or a golf ball that lands in the rough. I’ve had good luck with repellant clothing – socks – from Insect Shield.

I know many people wish to avoid applying chemicals to their bodies. If you live in even a moderately Lyme-prevalent area, please think about ticks! You can check CDC, Canadian CDC and local orgs as well as for maps. Note, the CDC is considered by many to underreport Lyme in the south and west.

Here’s a Canadian map of Lyme in the NorthWest.

10 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Thanks Sarah for reminding people about Lyme disease.
It is important people living in those areas know what the symptoms are and also important those living in mosquito areas to have their dogs on heart worm preventative which is a result of the mosquito.
I have found that mint planted outside seems to help with mosquitos in the summer. I plant it near my patio area and some years it comes back in the spring and some years it doesn’t but it is a fairly reasonable plant to purchase and it will spread if given the chance.

10 months ago

THANK YOU. I live in the south and haven’t heard of so many of these things. Filling my carts now.

10 months ago

Garlic oil is something you can buy in bulk and treat your outside/yard spaces with, too. We put it in a little pump sprayer and my husband sprayed as much as he could. It helped so much, even in NC.

Liz M
10 months ago

Thermacell works – but have you read the ingredients? I think stick to the more natural options on the list!!!

Lisa H
10 months ago

Some interesting ideas to check out. Thanks! I have four grandchildren, four und under, so am especially interested in the sticky patches to put on their clothing, and the nice smelling wipes.
We have thermocells, and have made sure that our kid’s families have them too.
It’s been some years now, but my sister was one of the first people in Colorado to contract West Nile Virus. She was very sick. Mosquito bites are not only itchy, but can lead to serious illness.

10 months ago

We have mosquitoes in our backyard in Portland for the first time ever. Yay climate change 😕

10 months ago

Just a friendly reminder that many bats carry rabies, something that, if not treated immediately, has a 100% fatality rate. I’d rather get bitten by bugs than by bats, so I recommend not going the bat box route!

10 months ago
Reply to  Sheila

Sadly a close family friend died five years ago from rabies from bat exposure. It was horrible. I’d still say that bat boxes can be a great option to keep the bugs down (good for the environment—bats’ natural habitats are endangered) but always, always use gloves if you need to touch the bat box for any reason and be ridiculously careful. You don’t have to get bitten to be exposed! If you suspect at all you’ve been contaminated (if you inadvertently touched a bat, for instance) get the vaccine IMMEDIATELY. It’s not a cheap vaccine (runs around $1000 at the health department) but it could save your life!

9 months ago

If you plant beauty berry, rub the crushed leaves on your skin if there are mosquitoes. It is actually science based that it is one of the best repellents out there. You can also make a recipe for a spray on version at home