Study Finds Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil Is Better Mosquito Repellent Than DEET

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Study Finds Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil Is Better Mosquito Repellent Than DEETPhoto – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

According to the 2014 Malaria report by the World Health Organization, more than 3 billion people are at risk for malaria. Over 97 countries all over the world are affected by it, with the high risk population involving 1.2 billion people. Members of the high-risk population are those with poor access to healthcare – making prevention, diagnosis, and treatment extremely difficult. With mosquitoes being harder and harder to control, prevention has become the primary line of defense against mosquito-borne diseases.

As we have outlined in other reports, DEET is a controversial insecticide and so a natural alternative is of great interest.

Historically, eucalyptus oil has been used to manage a variety of conditions – from stuffy noses to joint pain. Because of its soothing smell and cooling sensation, it is a popular home remedy. Today, modern day medicine has discovered how Lemon eucalyptus oil (a variety of Eucalyptus) can be used as a potent insect repellent. [1]

Eucalyptus Oil: The Science

One of the earliest studies on eucalyptus essential oil as an insect repellant was in 1996. The study was conducted in Bolivia and showed that a eucalyptus-based insect repellant was able to protect the skin from Anopheles mosquito bites from 6 to 7.75 hours. The females of the genus Anopheles is responsible transmitting malaria. [2]

A study published in 2012 focused on Aedes egypti, the species of mosquito that is responsible for dengue fever. Dengue fever is characterized by sudden onset of fever, joint pain, and in worst cases, massive bleeding. Essential oils from a variety of eucalyptus plants were found to have fumigant and adulticidal and larvicidal characteristics. [3]

The primary ingredient in most commercial insect repellants is DEET, which stands for diethlytoluamide. Despite recent studies marking DEET as “moderately” toxic to aquatic creatures (and ending up in waterways), [4]
DEET remains the “standard” by which all other repellents are judged and products range in strength from 10% to 100%, though over 50% concentration should not be used on skin. [5]

A 2002 study compared eucalyptus with DEET and the Eucalyptus scored 96.89 percent effectiveness, compared to DEET’s 84.81 percent against Anopheles (Malaria carrying) mosquitoes. [6] Similarly, a more recent 2014 study revealed how lemon eucalyptus oil is as effective as DEET, greater than with a 32% solution of Lemon Eucalyptus Oil scoring 95 percent effectiveness – compared to a 40% solution of DEET’s 100 percent. [7]

Another mosquito-borne disease is Filariasis, which is caused by Culex mosquitoes. Filariasis causes blockages in the body’s lymphatic system, leading to the enlargement of different body parts. The results of a June 2014 study concluded that the nanoemulsification of eucalyptus oil has larvicidal activity against the Culex genus. [8]

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Things That Can Be Done To Protect Against Mosquitoes

Illnesses like malaria, West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever are widespread and often hit children hardest, or members of the population who have poor access to healthcare. If you live in the tropics or other areas where mosquito-borne illnesses are common, being prepared is a must. Mosquito nets are a necessity – along with repellents and even mosquito traps.

To make a natural insect repellent, take organic eucalyptus oil and mix several drops with a scent free lotion. Apply it to your skin every six hours to protect yourself from mosquito bites or even soothe any itching from bites you may have already gotten. You can also apply oil directly on affected areas, but make sure to dilute it will a little bit of water or a similar solute since eucalyptus can be harsh on the skin.


[1] University of Maryland Medical Center. Eucalyptus.

[2] Trigg, J. (1996). Evaluation of a eucalyptus-based repellent against Anopheles spp. in Tanzania.

[3] Lucia, A., et. al. (2012). Validation of models to estimate the fumigant and larvicidal activity of Eucalyptus essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae).

[4] XiangyunGao et. al (2020). Aquatic life criteria derivation and ecological risk assessment of DEET in China.


[6] Moore, S., Lenglet, A. & Hill, N. (2002). Field evaluation of three plant-based insect repellents against malaria vectors in Vaca Diez Province, the Bolivian Amazon.

[7] Frances, S., Rigby, L. & Chow, W. (2014). Comparative laboratory and field evaluation of repellent formulations containing deet and lemon eucalyptus oil against mosquitoes in Queensland, Australia.

[8] Sugumar, S., et. al. (2014). Nanoemulsion of eucalyptus oil and its larvicidal activity against Culex quinquefasciatus.

1 Comment

  • By H, February 11, 2017 @ 3:12 pm

    Question on the eucalyptus oil discussed in the post. Is it essential oil or just regular eucalyptus oil? Thanks for the informative article. Keep up the good work!

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