Can Burning Incense Sticks Keep Mosquitoes Out Of Your Yard?

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Mosquitoes know how to put a damper on a beautiful day. If you're on a quest to keep pesky mosquitoes away from your yard without dousing yourself in repellent all summer long, it may be time to explore some alternatives. Mosquito-repelling incense sticks are a popular method to deter mosquitoes naturally, and burning aromatic substances like citronella is said to be an effective solution to send these insects buzzing the other way while adding a pleasant fragrance to the atmosphere at the same time. 

However, the jury is out on whether incense sticks can compete with bug sprays when it comes to preventing bites. So, we've done the hard work for you to investigate the available evidence, starting with the hard scientific facts followed by customer reviews, which always help to build a case. It's time to find out if burning incense sticks will keep mosquitoes out of your yard this summer, or if this method is not as worthwhile as it may seem.

Burning incense sticks to repel mosquitoes from your yard

Similar to citronella candles, mosquito-repelling incense sticks emit a scent that is unpleasant to insects. A leading brand of these incense sticks, Murphy's Naturals, uses a combination of essential oils for their repellent: citronella, lemongrass, bamboo, cedarwood, peppermint, and rosemary. The scent was scientifically tested at New Mexico State University's Molecular Vector Physiology Lab. In the study, a human volunteer was seated before a fan inside of a wind tunnel enclosure. Mosquitoes were then released into the enclosure, and when the incense stick was burned, the scent successfully deterred mosquitoes for up to two and a half hours. 

This product has many positive reviews online from customers raving about its effectiveness. From the many thousands of ratings on Amazon, it's clear that these incense sticks have satisfied expectations. A product review article in New York Magazine says that these incense sticks effectively deter mosquitoes when staked around the yard or placed in jars on the patio. However, some online reviews say that the sticks are difficult to burn and must be re-lit frequently. Other mosquito-repelling incense sticks on the market, like Deartagnan Anti-Mosquito and Nantucket Spider, have fewer online reviews but have also received high scores for effectiveness. 

What to know before buying mosquito-repelling incense

Before you use incense sticks to keep mosquitoes away from your home, bear in mind that they probably won't shield you completely from bites. A study by the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association tested citronella-based candles and incense to see how effective they were at deterring mosquitoes. It found that the candles were actually more effective than incense at reducing bites. The candles reduced bites by 42.3% and the incense lessened them by 24.2% (in comparison to participants using no protection).

Another factor to consider is the incense ingredients. While brands like Murphy's Naturals use a combination of essential oils, others on the market are made differently. For example, incense coils have long been used as an aromatic solution to repel mosquitoes. Traditional mosquito coils contain natural ingredients like citronella, as well as other more harmful substances. One study published in Toxicology Letters found that these coils are coated with a considerable amount of heavy metals, so inhaling this smoke could cause health problems over time. A study by Clinical and Molecular Allergy said that incense smoke increases air pollution, so it is good practice to avoid inhaling incense smoke directly, especially if you plan to burn it on your patio table all summer long. Based on the overall consensus of reviews and scientific evidence, incense sticks may not be a completely foolproof solution, but when used in combination with other methods, they provide pretty good protection.