I’m one of those people who gets eaten alive by mosquitos (after one particularly unfortunate middle school field trip, I counted 146 bug bites and will never forget it). Over the course of a lifetime, I’ve deployed every kind of deterrent: smell-emitting bracelets, electric zappers, eco-friendly oil sprays, and citronella candles on end. Despite being a bit of a broken record in the bug-repelling department, the candles – with their waxy, lemongrassy scent that really does scream summer – are always the most promising but the least effective. The flame is just so small, the bugs so many! Experts back this up: Eric Hoffer, president of Hoffer Pest, told Today Home this month that “the amount [of citronella oil] being put out by a candle isn’t going to be very effective.” Setting out more candles would hypothetically fix this, but they’re almost always unattractive. So more is definitely not better.
SHOP NOW: Citronella Hanging Coil by Fredericks and Mae; $30 (for two small), $36 (for one large); food52.com
Enter this funky, citronella-emitting coil by Fredericks and Mae. Made of compressed wood soaked in citronella oil, it burns the way incense does: slowly. All the better for spreading a campfire-tinged citronella scent around your patio. The large size will burn for nearly a full week if you never put it out (but you would sometimes, so technically it will last far longer). Best of all, though, is that they’re extremely beautiful. Not so much the case with an electric bug zapper. “Their form is a traditional incense format used in temples though southeast Asia,” says Fredericks and Mae cofounder Gabe Fredericks Cohen.
Traditional incense coils in Chua Phu Chau, Vietnam.