Does Fire Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Fire can keep mosquitoes away. The fire needs to be fueled by hardwood as it makes the most smoke or by natural plants known to deter mosquitoes. Smokeless fire or fire that doesn’t make too much smoke is less efficient at keeping mosquitoes away.

Mosquitoes multiply in stagnant water. They prefer high humidity habitats and most are attracted to blood.

Preventive measures or solutions that keep mosquitoes away include fragrant plants as well as products with chemicals.

In some cases, these measures aren’t available to keep the insects away. Mosquitoes can carry malaria, yellow fever, West Nile fever, Zika, and other viruses. Finding nature meals of keeping them away is a must.

Does fire keep mosquitoes away?

An open fire can keep mosquitoes away. While this is not the most efficient solution to keeping them away, making a fire in the backyard or camp can deter mosquitoes. Smoke and high heat keep mosquitoes away, albeit with limited success.

Mosquitoes don’t like smoke

Smoke is toxic and as a result, it repels mosquitoes. Typical wood smoke is made up of carbon monoxide, methane, alkylbenzenes, acetic acid, formic acid, and nitrogen oxides. These are toxic chemicals that keep mosquitoes and other insects or bugs away.

Smoke is influenced by the type of fuel used to make the fire. Methane and propane gas don’t make smoke but wood and pellets make a lot of smoke. Not all types of wood are efficient for making a lot of smoke, however.

4 Types of woods that make most smoke

Hardwood is ideal for making a lot of smoke. It takes longer to burn and it sustains fire and smoke for a longer time. It’s a better choice compared to softwood for smoke.

Hardwood to use for mosquito-deterring smoke

When it comes to choosing the type of wood that makes the most smoke you can consider one of the following.

  • Hickory

This native tree is the best when it comes to burning while creating a lot of smoke. Its wood is dense and it feels very stiff. This type of wood is perfect for creating continuous smoke at a higher rate compared to almost all other types of wood

  • Oak

Oak is another type of hardwood, perfect for creating mosquito-deterring smoke and long-burning fire. This type of wood is high in tannin, a type of astringent that makes it stiff.

  • Maple

Maple is one of the hardest types of wood. It’s considered superior to other types of wood such as mahogany for its stiff texture.

  • Alder

Alder is one of the hardwood types found in the US. Generally used to make furniture, this type of wood tends to create a lot of smoke.

To learn more about the different types of wood and the heat energy it produces, check out this article.

Mosquitoes handle heat better than smoke

It’s often understood that high heat kills mosquitoes. But smoke travels further than heat which means it’s more efficient at keeping mosquitoes away compared to heat.

A fire that makes a small quantity of smoke is less likely to repel mosquitoes. Furthermore, mosquitoes hate low temperatures more than high temperatures.

Mosquitoes die at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They might even feel good at a comfortable distance from the fire in the evening when temperatures are lower.

What can you burn in a fire pit to keep mosquitoes away?

Fire can have extensive results in keeping mosquitoes away. Burning aromatic plants often helps repel most mosquitoes. Known as plants that deter mosquitoes or natural mosquito repellents, the following plants can be added to a fire to clear out mosquitoes from a given area.

  • Burn lavender

Lavender plants have very strong essential oils that deter many types of insects including mosquitoes. You can add lavender essential oil on the fire or even dry lavender plants to deter mosquitoes.

The capacity of lavender to deter mosquitoes and insects has been used for years. Lavender is one of the plants that rarely gets decimated, if at all.

  • Burn rosemary

Rosemary smells of intense wood and aromatic herbs that essentially keep mosquitoes away. It can be grown in pots and added to the fire pit regularly through the summer to keep mosquitoes away.

  • Burn basil

Basil has a pungent smell that immediately deters mosquitoes. You can burn basil leaves to spread out its pungent smell and to create more smoke which can deter mosquitoes away from your home.

  • Burn citronella grass

Lemon-scented plants such as citronella grass are recommended for keeping mosquitoes away. You can keep these away

How to repel mosquitoes using fire?

Fire can repel mosquitoes but it has to have certain characteristics such as plenty of smoke and proximity to an area with mosquitoes to be truly efficient. Those deciding to use fire as a sole measure to keep mosquitoes away need to learn what makes a fire efficient at this task first.

Consider fire proximity

Fire needs to be close to mosquito sources to be seen as an efficient repellent. It’s believed fir can only be efficient at repelling mosquitoes found at a maximum of 10 feet away. Making multiple fires can be an alternative.

A better alternative is to make a fire next to a water source. Water is a medium for mosquito reproduction. Having a frequent fire next to a water source is going to keep mosquitoes away and prevent them from multiplying quickly.

You can make a fire next to a pond, a gazebo, or water-impregnated terrains around the house. A lawn that’s frequently watered can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes as are open drains. Placing a fire pit next to a lawn or drains is one of the methods used to limit their access to high humidity habitats most mosquitoes prefer.

Multiple small fires are better than one large fire

A single fire might not be an efficient method of keeping mosquitoes away. Single fireworks are well for camping and keep mosquitoes out of the tent when it’s made in the tent’s proximity. When it comes to keeping mosquitoes out of the house, a fire that’s next to a house can work. Multiple fires are needed over a larger yard with multiple water sources or multiple drains where mosquitoes nest.

Lighting multiple candles around the patio can work at night. Torches with citronella oil are even more efficient around the tent or on the patio. The key is to use multiple candles or torches spaced out every 2-4 feet away to be efficient at keeping mosquitoes away.

Continuous fire fueled by hardwood is better

Torches can burn for hours at a time. Keeping the fire going continuously is as important as making the fire itself. The smoke dissipates quickly making room for mosquitoes to fly back into the area.

This is why many anti-mosquito torch manufacturers recommend fueling the torch to burn all day or all night. A fire that burns for a longer period produces more smoke and eventually deters mosquitoes from the area completely.

Campers sometimes add more logs to keep a fire going for a few hours before going to sleep just to keep flies, insects, and bugs away through the night.

Making a fire that only burns for a few minutes isn’t enough to deter mosquitoes. Some mosquitoes are diurnal while others are nocturnal. This means mosquitoes can also fly, mate, bite and lay eggs during the night. Keeping a fire going is one of the techniques used to deter them even at night.

A fire pit can be efficient – it keeps mosquitoes away up to 8-9 feet

There’s no scientific evidence to suggest a fire can keep mosquitoes away. However, campers and those who like to spend time outdoors often say mosquitoes stay away from fire. The distance that’s considered mosquito-free is typically 8-9 feet from the fire in the case of a fire pit.

Torches are less efficient when it comes to the distance it keeps mosquitoes away. Anti-mosquito torch manufacturers recommend placing torched around 3 feet away. This means a small fire such as the fire of a torch or a candle only keeps mosquitoes away in a 3 feet radius. The smaller the fire the more fire sources are needed to keep mosquitoes away.

Essential oils and aromatic plants in the fire increase efficiency

Essential oils are known as natural mosquito repellents. Some essential oil diffusers only use a small fire from a small candle to dissipate into the air. Burning essential oils can be one of the techniques to limit the number of mosquitoes around the house or even when camping.

Fire in combination with essential oils is one of the alternatives to firing with hardwood that creates a lot of smoke and which might be difficult to be around.

Where can we make a fire to prevent mosquitoes?

An efficient fire against mosquitoes is always placed in the locations that attract these flies the most. These are locations with plenty of water or areas with high humidity.


Ponds are known breeding grounds for mosquitoes. They need to be kept clean to deter flies. Making fire next to a pond is one of the proven methods of deterring mosquitoes. Homes with decorative ponds can use fire pits to deter mosquitoes. Campers setting up a tent or a hammock next to a pond can make a fire to keep mosquitoes away.


Birdbaths are commonly used to decorate gardens. However, they attract mosquitoes since they have a constant water stream. Adding a torch next to these ponds can keep mosquitoes away during the summer.


Buckets used around the garden collect rainwater. They are ideal for mosquitoes to breed in. Water should be cleared from buckets or other containers used around the house.


Barrels are often used to collect rainwater. These barrels are mostly found near homes. Barrels need to be properly covered when not in use. Alternatively, they can be placed further away from the house to keep mosquitoes from reproducing in the water they collect.

Trash cans

Trash cans attract mosquitoes, spiders, bugs, and other insects. These need to be properly sealed and even kept further away from the house in places where mosquitoes can easily fly from.

Shrubs and tall grass

Shrubs are known areas where mosquitoes reproduce. Some people prefer to make small fires next to decorative shrubs to keep them away.

Shrubs need to be well-maintained for mosquitoes not to settle in. Placing a torch or burning essential oil next to shrubs in the garden or around the house is a proven method of deterring all types of insects.

Mosquitoes sometimes prefer to settle in tall grass. The taller the grass the higher the chances of considerable reproduction for mosquitoes are. All grass around the house and garden needs to be mowed properly to keep mosquitoes away.

Furthermore, planting basil, lavender, or rosemary in areas with tall grass also helps keep mosquitoes away. These plants can later be burned to become even more efficient at keeping mosquitoes away.


Smoke or heat from a fire rarely reaches gutters. Gutters are some of the most common breeding locations for mosquitoes. They need to be kept clear of debris as a minimum preventive measure.

You may want to check out our article on repelling mosquitoes in the wild if you are looking for tips to avoid mosquitoes without having to built fires.


Fire can keep mosquitoes away under strict characteristics such as proximity to sources of mosquitoes or high levels of smoke. The heat from the fire is insufficient to repel mosquitoes as it only radiates up to a few feet away. Smoke tends to be dissipated in a higher area essentially deterring more mosquitoes than heat from a fire.

A small fire and a large fire deter mosquitoes differently. Large fire clears mosquitoes from a wider area while small fire needs to be replicated a few times to deter mosquitoes from a similar area.

The type of fuel used to make a fire is important as well. Hardwood is the best at creating a lot of smoke. Certain natural plants known as mosquito repellents such as lavender, sage, or rosemary can also be added to the fire to make it more efficient. Fire fueled by hardwood such as oak or alder with added dry repellent plants is the most efficient combination to keep mosquitoes away.