this thing's incredible

These Incense Sticks Instantly Shoo the Mosquitoes Away

Photo: Steven John

My family lives on the north shore of Long Island about 12 miles east of New York City. It’s a lovely part of the country in most respects — the area once known as the Gold Coast was home to Teddy Roosevelt, famed families like the Vanderbilts and Guggenheims, and the fictional Jay Gatsby. There are centuries-old houses, myriad bays and peninsulas, forested pockets, and many towns and neighborhoods.

In fact, one of the only real complaints I have about the area is that, from late April clear through September, we are plagued with countless “neighbors” of the Culicidae nature, a.k.a. mosquitoes.

The mosquito population gets so bad that, often, my wife and kids simply wouldn’t venture outside other than to run into a car. As it turns out, everyone in my family is, as my son put it back when he was 4, “a mosquito sandwich.” Except me — mosquitoes don’t care much for my blood, but they were ruining the summer fun for those nearest and dearest to me. So I started fighting back.

I began with a regimen of spraying down the property with an insect-control solution and making sure to never let standing water collect anywhere around the home. That definitely reduced the numbers of our bloodsucking foes, but it hardly eradicated them.

If we were out at night, I’d plug in a strand of lights with built-in mosquito-repellent diffusers, which further reduced the frequency of bites but, again, hardly stopped all unwanted bugs from coming.

And, of course, we always put bug spray on the kids if they’re headed out to play for any appreciable amount of time, but what a pain it was to slather or spray them with insect repellent just to be in our own backyard for a while.

All of that helped, but still, they came. Then a friend recommended mosquito-repellent incense sticks made by Murphy’s Naturals. And I’m glad I did, because even with all of the spraying, the diffusers, the insect repellent on skin and clothing, it has been the gentle waft of smoke from these forest-green tubes that had the biggest effect.

Using these sticks couldn’t be easier. I step outside, figure out roughly which way the wind is blowing (or if things are still), then fire up a pair of Murphy’s Naturals and place them staked in the grass, where their smoke will waft across the yard, or in jars set on the patio table on stiller days. Usually, I try to get the sticks burning a good 15 minutes before we’ll head outside, and when we do, it never fails to hearten me how there really are fewer mosquitoes buzzing around.

Granted, it adds up, as each of the sticks of incense costs about a dollar, but that’s an easy price to pay for a lack of itchy welts and discontented family members.

A Murphy’s Naturals incense stick burns for nearly two and a half hours, and it can easily be extinguished and relit as needed. The scent blends citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint, all of which are loathed by the mosquito yet quite pleasant to the average human nose. In fact, we’ve had friends and family ask about the sticks many times based only on the scent, and they’re all the happier to realize that the main point is to ward off bugs, not please the olfactory senses of humans.

Without fail, whether we’re grilling with neighborhood friends, gardening with the kids, splashing in our comically small inflatable pool, or just running in circles outside, if it’s any time from late spring through early fall, we’re doing it with the scent of a Murphy’s Naturals stick in the air.

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying these things are magic: Even with the yard sprayed, the kids coated, and the incense burning, bites still happen now and then. Murphy’s Naturals incense isn’t going to make your property 100 percent mosquito-free, but it will make the outdoors livable again even in mosquito season. And that’s magic-adjacent.

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These Incense Sticks Instantly Shoo the Mosquitoes Away