What is Citronella Oil?

Citronella oil is a type of essential oil that is well-known for its insect-repelling properties and is used in many commercial insect repellent products.

The oil is extracted from the leaves and stems of Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus grasses.

These plants are native to tropical regions of Asia, Indonesia, India but can also grow in South and Central America, Africa and Australia.


Citronella plants are often grown in large plantations or farms specifically for the production of essential oils.

What does Citronella smell like?

The oil has a sweet, citrus-like fragrance and is commonly used in aromatherapy, perfumes, candles, and as an insect repellent.

What does Citronella oil look like?

Citronella oil is pale yellow to brownish in color and has a thin consistency.

In 1901, the US Department of Agriculture registered citronella oil as an insect repellent. This registration allowed citronella oil to be legally marketed as an insect repellent in the United States.

A big bushy plant with long skinny leaves, Citronella grown for insect repellents.
A flask half full with clean and pure citronella essential oil.
Large leafy green citronella oil plant.

Common uses for Citronella Oil?

Is Citronella oil a natural bug repellent?

Yes, citronella oil is a natural bug repellent that is commonly used to repel mosquitoes, flies, and other insects.

How does Citronella oil repel bugs?

The oil contains several compounds, including citronellal, citronellol, and geraniol, which are known to have insect-repelling properties.

How does Citronella Oil deter bugs?

Citronella oil is believed to deter bugs due to its strong scent, which masks the scents that attract insects, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid, that are emitted by humans and animals.

When insects come into contact with the strong scent of citronella oil, it can be overwhelming and unpleasant, causing them to fly or crawl away.

Is Citronella Oil used in Minus Bite Family Bug Spray?

Yes, Citronella oil is an active ingredient in our all natural family friendly bug spray as well as other highly effective essential oils.

Benefits of Using Citronella Oil on the Skin at the right concentration

Natural insect repellent: Citronella oil can help to repel insects, including mosquitoes and flies, when applied to the skin in the right concentration. This can reduce the likelihood of bites and the transmission of insect-borne diseases.

Antimicrobial properties: Citronella oil has natural antimicrobial properties that can help to prevent infections and reduce inflammation when applied to the skin.

Soothing and cooling: Citronella oil has a cooling and soothing effect on the skin, making it a popular ingredient in lotions and creams for sunburn and other skin irritations.

Pleasant fragrance: Citronella oil has a pleasant citrus-like scent that can provide a refreshing and uplifting aroma when applied to the skin.

Citronella Oil is a biopesticide

A biopesticide is a type of pesticide derived from natural materials, such as plants, bacteria, fungi, or other organisms, that can control or manage pests, including insects, weeds, and plant diseases.

Biopesticides work through various mechanisms, including interfering with pest mating, disrupting pest feeding or development, or directly killing pests.

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Citronella plant showing it's long leaves

Citronella oil is considered a biopesticide, and has been registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a minimum risk pesticide, which means it is exempt from registration requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This classification allows citronella oil to be used as a natural insect repellent and pesticide without the need for extensive testing or registration.

Read More about Citronella Oil

"Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing"

The campsite is all set, the tent is up. A women is spraying minus bite all natural bug spray on a man.

15 Minute Read  Published online 2011 Mar 15

"Citronella as an insect repellent in food packaging"

To go food on a table: A see through container with a fluffy green salad, a closed white container and an open soup container full of fresh soup.

5 Minute Read  Published 2005 Jun 1


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Amalraj LM, Ignacimuthu S, Dorn S. Evaluation of repellency effect of two natural products against mosquitoes in the field. J Vector Borne Dis. 2010 Mar;47(1):58-60. PMID: 20329327.

Frances SP, Cooper RD, Popat S, Beebe NW. Field evaluation of repellent formulations containing deet and Eucalyptus maculata oil against mosquitoes in northern Territory, Australia. J Med Entomol. 2004 Mar;41(2):414-7. doi: 10.1603/0022-2585-41.2.414. PMID: 15061207.

Maia MF, Moore SJ. Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing. Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S11. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-10-S1-S11. PMID: 21411012; PMCID: PMC3066073.