Citronella is a plant that can be used to repel insects. It is commonly found as an essential oil with a yellow to brown color.
The main components of citronella are citronellol, citronellal, and geraniol.
It is an Asian plant closely related to lemongrass. Its citrus-like sent is how it got the name citronella, or “lemon balm” in French.
How Does Citronella Work?
Unlike most pest control chemicals, citronella does not kill insects, but rather repels them.
Aside from pest protection, it can also be a natural solution for:
- Fungal infections
- Parasitic infections
- Moods and fatigue
- Enhancing flavors in food
Citronella can be found in many different forms that can help mask scents that attract pests, making it difficult to target humans and other forms of “feed.”
This could also be useful in masking smells that can attract other wildlife. Use citronella to repel mosquitoes, flies, and other “sucking” insects.
Is Citronella Safe For Humans?
Yes! With any new product, you should also use caution upon first use.
Always read and follow the label of any product you’re using. Keep all products away from eyes and mouth, and be sure to not overexpose yourself to any products by ingesting or breathing in products.
Some individuals may have adverse allergic reactions to citronella. If you find that you are having an allergic reaction after using citronella, be sure to wash the affected area thoroughly, and contact a healthcare professional if your symptoms worsen.
Most people with adverse reactions to citronella will feel a mild irritation in their skin, eyes, or throat if swallowed. Always wash your hands before and after using, especially before eating or smoking.
Avoid using citronella on young children (6 months or younger) unless advised by a healthcare professional.
Is Citronella Safe For Animals and Wildlife?
Citronella is no-toxic to birds, but slightly toxic to fish and aquatic animals. Because it repels insects rather than killing them, bees and other pollinators will not be harmed.
The citronella plant is toxic to pets like dogs and cats. Make sure if you have it planted in your garden, you are observing your pets carefully.
Essential oils have been known to irritate common pets like cats and dogs. Citrus smells are particularly irritating for dogs.
Be sure to watch your pet’s behavior while using products with citronella in it. If you have any concerns about what is best for your pet, contact your vet.
Products Containing Citronella
Citronella can be formulated into essential oils, sprays, lotions, wristbands, candles, and pellets.
These retail products can be formulated to either repel pests, or for other holistic uses as previously mentioned.
Always read and follow the label of any product you’re using and look out for signs of adverse reactions.
To make your own DIY citronella insect repellent, mix together:
- 1/2 cup witch hazel
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp of citronella oil
Funnel the mixture into a clean spray bottle and spray all over your body, while avoiding your eyes, mouth, and nose, and watch for any adverse reactions.
Citronella vs Other Products
There are lots of products out there to help you ward off pests. Let’s look at some other natural products that compare to citronella.
Citronella vs Lemongrass Oil
Although similar to citronella in almost every regard, these products are not the same because they are derived from different plants. However, both can naturally ward off mosquitos for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Citronella vs Cedarwood Oil
This product is used to ward off ticks and is safe to use on dogs! In fact, cedarwood oil is good for pets. To learn more about cedarwood oil, go to our page on cedarwood.
If you’re unsure if citronella products are the right solution to repel pests, call a local exterminator at (833) 431-0401 to see what other solutions they recommend.
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