Efficacy of the botanical repellents geraniol, linalool, and citronella against mosquitoes

J Vector Ecol. 2009 Jun;34(1):2-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1948-7134.2009.00002.x.


We determined the degree of personal protection provided by citronella, linalool, and geraniol in the form of commercially available candles or diffusers, both indoors and outdoors. Under the uniform conditions of the experiments, all substances repelled significantly more mosquitoes than the unprotected control. Furthermore, the repellents tested were more active when in the form of a continuous release diffuser than in candle form. All candles were 88 g containing 5% of the active ingredient and all diffusers contained 20 g of 100% active ingredient. Indoors, the repellency rate of citronella candles was only 14% while the repellency rate of citronella diffusers was 68%. The repellency of geraniol candles was 50% while the diffusers provided a repellency rate of 97%. No linalool candles were available for study but linalool diffusers repelled mosquitoes by 93%. Outdoors, citronella diffusers placed 6 m from mosquito traps repelled female mosquitoes by 22%, linalool repelled females by 58%, and geraniol repelled females by 75%. Trap catches were significantly reduced again when diffusers were placed 3 m from the traps. We concluded that geraniol had significantly more repellent activity than citronella or linalool in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Animals
  • Culicidae / drug effects*
  • Diffusion
  • Humans
  • Insect Bites and Stings / prevention & control
  • Insect Repellents / pharmacology*
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Mosquito Control / methods*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Insect Repellents
  • Monoterpenes
  • Plant Oils
  • Terpenes
  • linalool
  • geraniol
  • citronella oil