Does Smoke Keep Mosquitoes Away?



In the war on mosquitoes, it’s important to find safe and practical ways to eliminate the pests. If you like to grill out or set up bonfires frequently, you might have wondered if the smoke or fire is actually effective in keeping mosquitoes at bay. 


This blog will explore the question of whether smoke and fire are good options for repelling mosquitoes, and it will give you tips on how to use smoke and fire to your advantage in the fight against mosquitoes.  



What the Scientists Found

 In 2008, the WHO (World Health Organization) conducted a major review, as part of a study on malaria prevention, to answer questions including: Does smoke repel mosquitoes? Does smoke deter mosquitoes? What type of smoke keeps mosquitoes away the best? Surprisingly, the WHO found that there were too few studies with strong evidence to draw solid conclusions.


With that said, a 1994 study in Papua New Guinea found a combination of burning mango wood, coconut husks, ginger and betel nut leaves led to a significant drop in the number of certain species of mosquitoes in the area under observation (however, other species of mosquitoes were undeterred by the smoke).


An observational study in Siberia showed an 85-90 percent drop in mosquitoes landing on those people holding smoldering thyme sticks. 


Because there is little evidence from studies proving the effectiveness of smoke and fire as a means for keeping mosquitoes away, the following information is based on anecdotal evidence. 


For tried-and-true options for keeping mosquitoes away from your yard, you should seek professional mosquito control services




How Does Smoke Ward Off Mosquitoes?

 Survivalists seem to agree that a smoky hot fire is a sound method for keeping mosquitoes away. As the heat waves rise up and the burning wood releases chemicals like carbon monoxide and methane in the form of fine particles and debris, mosquitoes will stay away because it is too difficult for them to fly properly and to breathe.


Others will tell you that the smoke blocks the mosquitoes scent receptors along with the dry hot air so that they cannot smell nearby human emissions of carbon dioxide and blood.


Keep in mind that some species of mosquitoes (out of the 176 species in the U.S.) aren’t deterred by either smoke or fire, so take additional measures to repel mosquitoes when using smoke or fire to keep mosquitoes away. 



What Kind of Fire Keeps Mosquitoes Away?

Experts believe the effectiveness of smoke seems to rely in a large part on the type of wood or vegetation being burned.


This means you will need to make use of a fire pit, campfire, chiminea, outdoor stove or grill where wood can burn. It also means a gas-burning grill or fire pit will not be effective since propane or natural gas do not produce smoke. If you’ve got a gas or propane setup, you will need to find other conventional methods to deter the mosquitoes.


Fires from softwoods are favored over those from hardwoods because they release more heat and smoke. Softwoods include firs, pines, junipers, and spruces. 


A slightly moist wood will make more smoke than a dry wood. If you bang two logs together and hear a dull thud, there is moisture in the logs. If you hear a hollow sound, the wood is seasoned which means its moisture content is below 20% and it will make a fire that is less smoky. Most firewood that is purchased will be seasoned.


Another way to create a mosquito-shield around your fire is to add certain oily plants to the flames such as eucalyptus or certain herbs. 



Which Smoky Woods and Smelly Plants Should You Burn?

Below is a list of woods and plants you can burn that will help to keep mosquitoes and other bugs at bay:


CEDAR is an excellent, dense softwood whose bark contains thujone, a natural chemical mosquitoes and other bugs avoid. You can also buy shredded cedar bark chips to add to your fire or even around the yard. This wood burns hot and slow but also produces a lot of sparks.


PIÑON (Pinyon also Pinion) is a softwood in the pine/juniper family that is typically found in the southwest US. It burns very hot and clean and has a very pleasant scent so it comes highly recommended for keeping mosquitoes at bay. If you don’t have access to Piñon, you can purchase Juniper Aromatic Firewood online or at stores to burn in your fire.


PINE wood is readily available and will produce a lot of smoke but it will also burn up quickly and require more logs than other woods.


EUCALYPTUS or gum tree is a hardwood that originated in Australia and has been cultivated around the US in warmer climate zones. It contains eucalyptol or cineole oil in its bark which is often used as a bug repellent by manufacturers. The plant burns extremely hot so it should be used with caution as it sparks easily and should not be used indoors as its oily residue creates a fire hazard. It produces an extremely pleasant scent that people will enjoy and bugs won’t.


HICKORY, OAK, MAPLE, CHERRY, PECAN and ASH are all common campfire hardwoods that can burn long and hot, with few sparks, are good for cooking food over and smell wonderful, but they do not produce as much smoke as the softwoods so they may be less effective in deterring mosquitoes.


CITRONELLA is from the geranium family and is often used as an effective bug-repellent in candles and sprays. You can achieve the same goal in your backyard fire pit by purchasing Citronella logs which burn hotter and longer and require less logs than other firewood.


HERBS such as basil, lavender, mint, sage, rosemary, and lemongrass are effective scents to ward off mosquitoes, but you need quite a lot of the plants to get the intended result and preferably fresh plants as opposed to dried bundles. Therefore, it might be best to buy their essential oils instead and pour it on the wood before burning. You can also purchase logs that come with a mixture of natural herbs and oils already inside to ward off mosquitoes.


As noted above, a hot burning and smoky fire is believed to be the best deterrent to mosquitoes. But keep in mind that hot fires are also hard fires to put out and need to be supervised closely. Never use treated or painted lumber as harmful chemicals and irritants can be released into the air.


In short, creating a backyard environment that is anti-mosquito and pro-people is as simple as choosing the right logs and plants to burn as well as putting up with a little smoke in your eyes which seems a small price to pay to avoid mosquito bites.



About Simply Green’s Mosquito Control Service

We offer different outdoor mosquito control treatments to help rid your yard of these pests and keep them from coming back. Our backyard mosquito control products are safe for use around pets and children, and they work quickly to get rid of mosquitoes.


To control adult mosquitoes, our product is a synthetic version of the Pyrethrum extract found in Chrysanthemum flowers. In areas of standing water in your yard, we use Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). Bti is a naturally occurring bacterium found in soils that specifically targets and only affects mosquito larvae. Bti interrupts the mosquito lifecycle by eliminating larvae before they mature into adults. It does not affect other insects, including honeybees. All of our EPA registered products are safe for kids and pets and do not pose a risk to your family.


If you’re looking for an easy way to keep mosquitoes out of your yard, our outdoor mosquito control treatments are a great option. Contact us today to learn more about our products and how we can help you get rid of mosquitoes for good!


About Simply Green Lawn Care

Picture of a Simply Green Spray Technician treating a lawn

Simply Green aims to provide the highest quality lawn care, mosquito control, and lawn pest control services to Georgia residents.


We are locally owned and operated which allows us to be accessible, attentive, and responsive for customers in Georgia.


Our well-trained team is easy to work with and determined to exceed expectations.


All our plant health care specialists are Georgia Department of Agriculture Certified and maintain their Category 24 applicators license.