Research shows that ginger (Zingiber officinale, USDA zones 9-12) — especially its extracted oils — can repel certain mosquito species. However, it is uncommon to choose ginger as a mosquito repellent simply because other plants have an even more powerful effect against these pests. Whether you are planting a mosquito-repellent garden or choosing essential oils to use as a repellent spray, you may experience better results by mixing ginger with other strong-scented herbs.
Ginger Essential Oil Repels Mosquitoes
A study published in 2018 in the Annals of Parasitology claims to be one of the first to explore the possibility of using ginger as a repellent against the species Culex theileri Theobald, 1903. Ginger essential oil was found to have 45 percent insecticidal activity and 61 percent repellent activity. This means ginger essential oil, especially in its undiluted form, can reduce the number of mosquitoes in the vicinity, either by killing them or simply repelling them.
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A study published in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of Vector Ecology investigated the effects of ginger and several other herbs on repelling Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito. Three concentrations of ginger essential oil were studied: 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. The 5 percent concentration produced the best repellent activity, with a knockdown rate of 76.2 percent and a mortality rate of 23.8 percent.
More Potent Plants Exist
A common theme emerges when investigating the usefulness of ginger as a mosquito repellent: Ginger works, but other plants work better. For example, the 2018 study found eucalyptus essential oil to be even more powerful at killing and repelling mosquitoes, with 66 percent insecticidal activity and 74 percent repellent activity.
The 2014 study also tested the extracts of hairy basil, lemongrass and citronella at the same concentrations as the ginger extract. All three herbs outperformed ginger, with both hairy basil and lemongrass achieving a 100 percent knockdown rate at 10 percent concentrations. Compared to ginger, citronella had a higher knockdown rate (86.8 percent) but a lower mortality rate (15.1 percent).
Planting a Mosquito-Repellent Garden
If you are interested in planting herbs in the garden that naturally repel mosquitoes rather than using the essential oils, there are plenty of herbs from which to choose. Strong-scented herbs tend to work best as mosquito repellents, but you'd have to plant a significant amount of them to achieve a mosquito-free area in your yard or garden. It's important to note that these herbs work best when crushed and rubbed on the skin instead of simply growing in the garden.
In addition to ginger and herbs such as lemongrass, hairy basil, citronella and eucalyptus, you can also try lemon balm, lemon thyme, bee balm, rosemary, mint, lavender and catnip. Monkey grass oil, sweet wormwood oil, garlic and marigolds are also effective against mosquitoes.
If you are venturing away from your carefully curated anti-mosquito garden, you can harvest a few leaves, crush them to release their oils and rub them on your skin for additional mosquito protection. However, first consider applying just a small amount on a small patch of skin to ensure that you do not have a reaction to the powerful, undiluted oils.