You can often find the taste of lemongrass in lots of Thai dishes and herbal teas. But did you know you can also use it as an insect repellent?

Lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia and other tropical climates. It has small, citrus-smelling flowers and comes from a long grass-like plant.

It has similar medicinal and therapeutic effects as citronella and lavender. It’s also antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory.

How Does It Work?

Lemongrass can be used as an insect repellent. Most insects are generally repelled to anything with strong smells. So even though it’s incredibly pleasant for humans, pests hate it! You can lemongrass products to protect against:

A recent study has also shown that lemongrass oil is able to kill mosquito larvae.  

The limonene is how lemongrass, along with other citrus plants and fruit, get their signature smell. This is also how lemongrass gets its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

You can find lemongrass fresh, dried, powders, essential oils, lotions, and more. Lemongrass has been used for aromatherapy with similar results to lavender. It has even been used to reduce dandruff and relieve symptoms of thrush in HIV/AIDS patients.

Lemongrass can protect against pests by repelling them, and creating an antibacterial and anti-fungal barrier for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Is It Safe For Humans?

Yes! The toxicity levels in lemongrass oil are incredibly low. 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 topical products away from eyes and mouth, and be sure to not overexpose yourself to any products by ingesting or breathing in products.

The ACHS does not recommend diffusing lemongrass oil around children 6 months or younger. Use extra caution if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Contact a healthcare professional if you have questions about using lemongrass around younger children.

Some individuals may have adverse allergic reactions to lemongrass oil. Most people with adverse reactions to lemongrass will feel a mild irritation in their skin, eyes, or throat.

If you find that you are having an allergic reaction after using lemongrass essential oil, be sure to wash the affected area thoroughly, and contact a healthcare professional if your symptoms worsen.

Is It Safe For Animals and Other Wildlife?

Lemongrass essential oil is harmful to cats and dogs. There are lots of retail pet products that use lemongrass as an active ingredient. Always speak to your vet if you’re unsure as to whether or not a product is safe for your pet to use.

Pets who have been overexposed to lemongrass oil have experienced:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Lethargy 
  • Weakness 
  • Tremors 
  • Fever
  • Hyperactivity
  • Skin inflammation
  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting and retching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in legs and stomach
  • Problems with coordination

If your pet is experiencing these symptoms after using a lemongrass product, call your vet immediately. 

Bees and other pollinators are attracted to the smell of lemongrass. It may make a good addition to your garden if you want to improve pollination and repel other insects.

There are no reports on lemongrass being harmful to other wildlife, but like lavender, it could repel larger wildlife like deer.

Products With Lemongrass

Lemongrass can be bought in fresh, dried, and powered form. It also comes in a number of retail products. Lemongrass is commonly found in retail stores in the form of:

  • Essential oils 
  • Dried leaves
  • Lotions
  • Soaps
  • Teas and other food products

There are lots of retail insect repellents and essential oils. You can also make your own lemongrass oil at home if you have access to fresh lemongrass!

To make your own DIY bug bite relief remedy, mix together:

  • 2 Tbsp of fractionated coconut oil
  • 10 drops of lemongrass oil
  • 10 drops of another essential oil of your choosing

Funnel mixture into an empty ½ oz roller ball, or eye dropper container. Apply to the affected area(s). You can also use it as a perfume or for aromatherapy purposes. We recommend using eucalyptus, or lavender oils for this remedy.

To make your own DIY lemongrass repellent at home, mix together:

  • 1/2 cup witch hazel
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp of lemongrass oil

Funnel the mixture into a clean spray bottle and spray all over your body. Be sure to avoid your eyes and mouth, and look for any adverse reactions.

Lemongrass 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 lemongrass oil.

Lemongrass vs. Citronella

Both of these products have similar medicinal effects and insecticide purposes, but they are still different. They come from two different plants, and lemongrass has a more floral smell. If you find you’re having an allergic reaction to lemongrass, try out citronella.  

Lemongrass vs. Lavender Oil

This is also a natural and holistic solution to repel pests, and has similar medicinal properties. Lavender oil is safe to use with pets!

If you have questions about using essential oils on your pet, contact your vet.

Lemongrass vs. DEET

If you find that you’re having adverse allergic reactions to essential oils, DEET is a chemical alternative.

DEET products can be found in most retail stores, and has been used for years as an insect repellent. It is not recommended to use DEET products on your pets, and does not have the same medicinal benefits as lemongrass.

If you’re unsure if lemongrass products are the right solution to repel pests, call a local exterminator at (833) 431-0401 to see what other solutions they recommend.