Create a no-mosquito-zone for your next summer gathering with these great-smelling alternatives to citronella candles.

backyard lounge patio decor
A pretty patio will sit empty if you let mosquitos take over. Here are beautiful ways to fend them off.

You upgraded your patio furniture, fluffed the pillows, made snacks and drinks, and invited friends to your backyard oasis. Then there’s a THWACK, and a slap, and a scratch, and your happy hour is suddenly made much less happy by everyone’s least favorite party crashers: Mosquitoes. Back when the invasive Aedes mosquito—also known as the black tiger—started spreading across much of California in 2018, SoCal lost its right to brag about screen-free windows and carefree outdoor dinner parties, and joined much of the rest of the country in an ongoing battle against these virus-carrying blood suckers. The standard advice is to check your yard for standing water (including clogged gutters, stagnant drains, and even the saucers under potted plants) and find your local vector control department for inspection and treatment. Beyond that, bug-zapping lights work. But the eerie blue glow, and the sounds of flying insects being drawn into the chamber and electrocuted aren’t exactly ambient. Old-school citronella candles, with their paraffin wax and tangy, almost antiseptic scent, can be an olfactory trigger, jogging memories of Girl Scout camp and scabby, bitten ankles from summers past. The good news: Mosquito-deterring incense, lawn sprays, and fragrant granules can actually add to the party atmosphere and shoo flies—and other flying things—at the same time. Laced with cedar, lemongrass, lavender, sage, and other natural bug-repellers, they create a long-lasting, bite-free zone, and smell like a pricey candle. Here are our favorites.