Does Smoke And Fire Repel Mosquitoes?

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It’s quite possible that there’s a killer on the loose in your neighborhood and the bad news? There’s no point in calling the police, they can’t do anything about it. Of course, we’re talking about the mosquito, the deadliest insect in history, responsible for the deaths of millions thanks to its effectiveness as a disease vector. But is there something we could do about this pest ourselves? 

Smoke (along with fire) does tend to keep mosquitoes away. This was the reason for the mosquito coil – a staple tool in many households in the 1970s and 1980s. There are other ways to manage mosquitos, today, but smoke remains a simple way to shift the pests when you really need them gone.

Here’s what you need to know about mosquitoes and fire. 

Your # 1 priority is keeping your family safe. As a firefighter, I recommend everyone has updated smoke detectors that don’t require battery changes, like these ones from Kidde, a fire extinguisher, like this one from Amerex, and a fire escape ladder if you have bedrooms above the first floor, I recommend this one from Hausse.

Also read: Does Fire Kill Germs/Bacteria/Viruses?

What Are Mosquitoes?

smoke and fire for mosquitoes

“The mosquito” is, in fact, quite a lot of mosquitoes. There are many different flies that are called mosquitos and they all belong to the same family of animals – Culicidae.

They all have a simple slender body, which is fully segmented, with a single pair of wings (and halteres), three long legs, and big, extended mouths. 

Their lifecycle is fairly standard for a fly, they lay eggs, which hatch to form larvae, which then pupate, before being “reborn” as the adult fly. 

They require stagnant water to reproduce in and in many places where the mosquito was once rife, simply draining pools and puddles have eliminated the mosquito entirely. 

The adult females use those long mouthparts to feed and they can pierce the skin of a suitable host and then start to drain blood from them – they need the proteins and iron in the blood to feed their young. 

There are literally thousands of species of mosquito and they don’t all feast on the same creatures, some feed on us but others are partial to the blood of invertebrates or amphibians or birds!

The mosquito has become the most deadly animal on Earth, not because the individual fly represents some sort of threat to people, but because when they drink from us, they also share with us their saliva – which is a major vector for disease pathogens.

Mosquitoes carry:

  • malaria
  • filariasis
  • yellow fever
  • West Nile fever
  • Chikungunya
  • dengue
  • Zika

These diseases kill around 1 million people every year. Over the history of humanity, they have killed billions. 

How Long Can A Mosquito Live?

Fortunately, the adult mosquito is not a long-lived creature and will die within 7 days of emerging from the pupa.

This is good news for those working on long-term pest control of mosquitoes because it means if you can interrupt the lifecycle of a mosquito population, they quickly disappear and it’s easier to kill eggs larvae, and pupating mosquitoes than it is to kill the adult flies. 

Does the Smell Of Smoke Repel Mosquitoes?

It’s not known, exactly, what it is about smoke that repels mosquitoes as we can’t ask them how they feel about it – we can just observe that they flee when smoke is around. 

There’s no way of removing a mosquito’s nose to see if it’s due to the scent.

However, it’s fair to say that there is a similar observable reaction in mosquitoes to other substances (as well as smoke) towards certain scents and thus, we believe that it is the smell of smoke that sends mosquitoes heading for the hills. 

It is quite important to note that this doesn’t mean that smoke is always the correct choice of mosquito repellant, after all, filling your home with smoke is as likely to repel you, the human occupants, as the mosquitoes. 

Thus, in the main, smoke tends to be preferred for outdoor use when looking to remove mosquitoes. 

For some help on the best way to use smoke as a mosquito repellent, watch this:

What Smells Do Mosquitoes Hate?

As we’ve noted, mosquitoes appear to hate the scent of smoke and of certain other things including:

  • chemical bug sprays (deet)
  • citronella
  • calendula
  • geraniums
  • lemon thyme
  • basil
  • camphor
  • many more

You may find that you have greater or lesser amounts of success with any given group of mosquitoes depending on their local preferences. 

People use anything from candles to the natural plant to deliver scents to deter mosquitoes. 

Here are some other natural ways to keep mosquitoes away:

What Smells Do Mosquitoes Love?

It might come as a surprise but mosquitoes appear to hunt by smell and researchers have ascertained that they love the smell of cheese.

And that people with “cheesy” feet are much more likely to be bitten than those with feet with no discernible odor. 

You can even get mosquitoes to attack cheese if you leave it out on the counter overnight!

What Type Of Smoke Gets Rid Of Mosquitoes?

There is no evidence to suggest that there’s any kind of smoke that mosquitoes particularly hate

Though it’s probably fair to say that if you burn a plant with some kind of natural repellent smell – that might be more effective than burning ordinary wood.

We would also note, smoke is not a perfect mosquito repellant, while it will drive away many mosquitoes, some will persist even in the smokiest of conditions. 

Also read: Black Smoke: What Does It Mean And What Causes It?

What Can I Put In A Fire Pit To Keep Mosquitoes Away?

As we’ve already noted mosquitoes don’t seem to care much about what kind of smoke.

But some people recommend using a plant such as eucalyptus or sage; with a high eucalyptol content, which is the stuff they put in most over-the-counter insect repellants. 

Do Candles Get Rid Of Mosquitoes? 

Officially? No.

There is no scientific evidence that candles are good for repelling mosquitoes, but we can find plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests that they do. 

We’ve not managed to find a volunteer to measure the efficacy of candles in chasing off mosquitoes, so all we can suggest is that you experiment with candles and that if they work for you, then they work for you. 

Does Burning Rosemary Get Rid Of Mosquitoes?

Rosemary is another plant that is rich in eucalyptol, so, it’s entirely possible that rosemary will add some extra incentive for a mosquito to go away when you burn it, but it’s also equally possible that they’re just fleeing the smoke. 

Either way, there’s no doubt that burning rosemary gets rid of mosquitoes, but again, this is best done outdoors in a fire pit and not in your living room with large bundles of rosemary. 

Does Incense Keep Mosquitoes Away?

We know, this article keeps going in the same direction but rather like with candles, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that it’s a good idea to burn incense to ward off mosquitoes and unlike with candles, there is some evidence that suggests you’d be better off not burning incense in the first place. 

Are Mosquito Incense Sticks Safe?

And that’s because they may not be safe for use in your home at all. There is evidence that using an incense stick in your home might cause you to inhale as much smoke and tar as you would from consuming a large number of cigarettes. 

It’s difficult for us to determine the accuracy of this assertion but it might be worth discussing it with your physician if you want to use incense on a regular basis for any purpose. 

Are Mosquito Coils Safe To Breathe?

You would think that the long-established mosquito coil was completely safe to breathe, however, recent evidence suggests that this is also not the case and that the smoke produced, if inhaled in the confines of a room, might be the equivalent of up to 6 packs of cigarettes!

There is also some evidence that the chemical vape alternatives produce fumes that we might be better off not breathing which might aggravate breathing problems. 

Can You Sleep With Mosquito Coils?

You can but given the health risks outlined above, you might not want to sleep with a mosquito coil burning in your room. The mosquito coil, assuming it has been set up correctly and you have no pets or small children to knock it over, is unlikely to be much of a fire hazard. 

Again, we’d talk to a physician if you’re thinking about using these coils regularly. 


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