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.
Compared with a stick shape, those traditional incense coils allow for a greater amount of incense to be burned over a longer period of time without taking up a crazy amount of space. (Fredericks and Mae makes its in 7″ x 7″ small and 18″ x 18″ large sizes.) Plus, they look mega-dramatic and enchanting when hung across a temple ceiling. Add citronella oil to the mix and this shakes out to mean less mosquitos, by way of something that’s actually cool looking. Yes, please!
If you have a covered porch or pergola, go ahead and hang your coil overhead the way they do in temples. Those without an obvious place to hang it might pick up a shepherd’s hook garden stake, loop the coil over its hook, and watch the mosquitos flee the premises.