Garlic As A Natural Mosquito Repellent

There is a long history of using garlic to get rid of many insects, from slug to mosquito. In particular garlic has a reputation for protecting people from mosquito bites - some think that this could be the origin of the belief that vampires are scared of garlic. There are a number of commercial garlic sprays on the market, these effectively coat an area and produce a natural mosquito barrier.

Garlic is more effective at repelling some species of mosquito than others. For this reasons many of the commercial preparations available include a number of different repellent ingredients such as catnip and soy as well as garlic.

Why Does Garlic Repel Mosquitos?

It's not clear why garlic should be an effective natural mosquito repellent. It would seem that the powerful compounds such as allicin which garlic releases are inimical to mosquitos. They have therefore evolved to avoid garlic. Another possibility is that the strong smell of garlic overwhelms the mosquitos' sense of smell and prevents them from finding their prey (us!).

Whatever the mechanism, garlic's ability to repel a variety of pests has been proven scientifically. Its effect against mosquitos specifically is less well documented however there is much anecdotal evidence to support it.

If you wish to protect an entire area such as your garden, you could treat it with one of the commercially available garlic based sprays you can buy. For individuals, studies (1) have shown that coating the body with a jelly based compound including garlic can keep mosquitoes away for some time. Obviously such a method, whilst effective against bites, has fairly major social side effects! (Warning: the allicin in garlic is very strong and can result in skin problems and allergic reactions. Consult your doctor)

Fortunately you probably don't have to go that far. There is strong anecdotal evidence that simply consuming more garlic can help to prevent mosquito bites.

This is not simply a case of mosquitos being averse to garlic breath! If you eat a large amount of garlic then it actually seeps out through the pores of your skin. Some people think that this invisible layer of garlic oil might create a natural barrier cream. Any mosquitoes which do find you will think twice before taking a bite.

So Garlic might help to deter mosquitoes - but it won't stop them. Given the serious potential dangers from mosquito bites (West Nile virus, Zika etc) I do not recommend you rely on garlic alone for protection - always consult your doctor for advice.


Readers in Scotland will probably suffer from the infamous Scottish biting midges. Since many mosquito traps and sprays are also sold as midge repellents, and the famed mosquito magnet has been adapted as a "midge magnet", it's possible that garlic could also help to prevent in midge control.

1: Colorado State University: Garlic May Repel Pests As Well As People