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The Best Insect Repellents for Your Deck and Patio

Don't let mosquitoes, flies and other bugs ruin your outdoor oasis. Here are some of the best insect repellents homeowners and pros swear by.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

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Insect Repellent on color block backgroundvia (3)

Choosing an Insect Repellent

Sales data for patio furniture, decks and pest control confirm what we know anecdotally: People are spending more time at home and especially outdoors, likely due to COVID-19 concerns.

In a recent survey by lawn care company TruGreen, 41 percent of homeowners say they spent more on outdoor pest control in 2020 than before the pandemic. Mostly they’re battling ants (49 percent), spotted lanternflies (43 percent) and mosquitoes (42 percent).

So what can you do to keep flies or pesky mosquitoes away? Find an insect repellent that’s safe for use around the deck or patio. Or go inside.

Choose the right insect repellent by asking these questions:

  • What kinds of bugs are you targeting? Some repellents work on all insects, while others specialize in one or two types, typically mosquitoes.
  • How large of an area you want to cover? Some bug-repelling products protect only you, while others cover the whole yard.
  • Are you willing to use chemicals? Some insect repellents contain chemicals and must be used with caution and care, while others are all-natural.
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Ortho Home Defensevia

Ortho Home Defense

Ortho Home Defense helps kill and repel mosquitoes and other pests. Spray it on shrubs, bushes, grassy areas and the perimeter of your yard to create barriers. The spray’s primary bug-killing ingredient targets adult mosquitoes when they land on it.

One Amazon reviewer writes, “This magic bottle is a life saver. It kills the insects within seconds of contact and literally puts an invisible wall around my house. It also kills the insects if they ever cross that magical barrier. I highly recommend this product.”

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Thermacell Rechargeable Mosquito Repellervia

Thermacell Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller

The E55 rechargeable mosquito repeller, the latest offering in Thermacell’s line of insect repellent products, mimics the natural properties of chrysanthemum. It creates an invisible force field that effectively deters mosquitoes while going unnoticed by humans.

With the push of a button, it makes a 20-foot-wide zone of protection for almost six hours before needing a charge. As one Amazon reviewer writes, “This has completely changed the way I live outside.”

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Summit Mosquito Dunks

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. You can stop this cold with Summit mosquito dunks. Drop one into water features, such as a bird bath or decorative pond, and it will kill mosquito larvae for up to 30 days. It’s a natural soil bacterium that prevents mosquito larvae from developing into adults.

“I’ve got a small pond, and until I started using these we had a terrible mosquito problem,” writes one verified Amazon reviewer. “Now I throw a few of these in the water every couple of months, and we get very few mosquitoes. I really like that these don’t hurt our fish or frogs or anything else.”

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Tiki Bitefighter Torch Fuelvia

Tiki Bitefighter Torch Fuel

Tiki torches have been a popular method of deterring insects for years. Adding a citronella and cedar formula to the torch fuel is a brilliant way to repel even more mosquitoes. That’s the Tiki Bitefighter. Simply fill your torches and light, setting the scene while keeping uninvited guests away.

One Amazon reviewer writes: “We live in Florida, on a lake, about 300 yards from the edge of the Everglades … Bottom line, these are working under the worst conditions in Southeast Florida.”

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Flowtron Electronic Insect Killervia

Flowtron Electronic Insect Killer

Some love the Flowtron BK-40D because it’s easier on the environment than chemical insecticides. Daniel Adams, co-founder of the shopping and review site Cosier, says he also loves it because its durable construction protects kids or pets from getting zapped, and it eliminates insects within a one-acre area.

Note: If you go the bug zapper route, David Price, an entomologist for Mosquito Joe, says they only kill a small number of mosquitoes. They’ll also kill lots of other flying insects, some of which prey on mosquitoes.

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Off Mosquito Lampvia

Off Mosquito Lamp

Light the Off Mosquito Lamp 10 minutes before you’re ready to go outside, and the diffuser will repel mosquitoes in a 10-ft. x 10-ft. area — perfect for porches and decks. You’ll enjoy up to six hours of bug-fighting power.

“I can’t believe this actually works,” writes one Amazon reviewer. “I usually get eaten alive by mosquitoes and assumed this would be another waste of money. It’s not!! I can actually sit outside and enjoy my deck now, without a single bite.”

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Now Essential Oil Natural Insect Repellentvia

Essential Oils and Natural Repellents

Price says essential oils and other natural repellents can be effective deterrents. Eucalyptus or lemon eucalyptus oil spray can be diluted in a carrier oil or bought in a spray solution thinned with water. But use caution — it can be toxic to pets.

“Versatile and virulent to insects, lavender can be a fantastic addition to the arsenal,” Price says. It’s safe for topical use on all ages, including infants, and lethal to ticks, mosquitoes and their eggs. Thyme oil and its leaves are also great for preventing mosquitoes, especially malaria-ridden ones.

Add thyme leaves to your campfire for a pleasant fragrance and to keep pests away. Last, mince garlic, mix with mineral oil, allow to soak overnight, then put in a spray bottle. This mixture can be sprayed directly on skin, pets, or on plants to keep ticks away.

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Cutter Backyard Bug Control Outdoor Foggervia

Cutter Backyard Bug Control Outdoor Fogger

Cutter Backyard Bug Control Outdoor Fogger earns consistently great reviews. Spray this fogger around your outdoor living spaces during calm weather for hours of bug control. Only apply once per day.

Cutter will kill mosquitoes and other flying insects, including flies, gnats and wasps, and prevent them from returning. Spray a perimeter around your deck, patio or yard; it protects an 8-ft. x 10-ft. x 15-ft. area. Let the vapors dissipate before enjoying the outdoors.

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Murphys Natural Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticksvia

Murphy’s Natural Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks

Keep mosquitoes at bay with Murphy’s mosquito repellent incense sticks. The sticks are made with natural ingredients, such as citronella, rosemary and peppermint, all of which repel bugs. Each stick provides around two-and-a-half hours of mosquito protection in a 12-foot radius, working well enough to attract thousands of fans on Amazon.

“They work much better than the other citronella sticks,” writes one Amazon buyer. “They are shorter and thicker but burn longer (approximately two hours). You can smell the essential oils rather than just a burning odor. Mosquitoes are persistent, so these work best when you keep one burning. When that one goes out, light another.”

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Treat up to 1,500 square feet by spraying 100 percent natural, mint-scented SkeeterMace throughout your deck or patio area in the morning or evening. Avoid times of peak sun, which means peak evaporation. The fast-acting formula kills mosquito larvae, nymphs and adults and won’t harm bees or butterflies. Application lasts about two weeks give or take, considering rainfall amounts.

One reviewer on writes: “Lots of mosquitoes here in Tennessee and sprayed this all over the balcony. Needed a safe solution as my cat frequents this spot, and the best part is it smells great. Definitely effective.”

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Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.