With Zika fears growing every day, mosquitoes have become public enemy number one. But fighting them off does not require dousing yourself with harmful chemicals or locking yourself indoors.
Several types of flowers, herbs, and grasses keep mosquitoes away.1 The essential oils in these plants are natural repellants. The oils are released into the air, particularly when a plant is cut or “bruised.” Higher temperatures also cause more of the oils to be released.
Here are nine plants that ward off mosquitoes:
- Marigolds. The flower’s aroma not only repels mosquitoes, but marigolds are easy to care for and add beauty to your yard.
- Lavender. Many of us love the scent, but mosquitoes can’t stand it. Lavender is great for people who are lazy about watering. It is drought resistant. Crush the leaves and rub them on your skin and clothes for personal mosquito protection.2
- Citronella and lemon grass. These related herbs have a lemony scent. Lemon grass is used in Asian cooking. If you buy citronella, make sure you get the varieties Cymbopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. They work best.3,4
- Garlic. A 2005 study found that eating garlic does nothing to ward off mosquitoes, contrary to popular belief.5 However, garlic plants do repel them. You can plant the edible form of garlic. Or try society garlic. It’s an ornamental garlic that is not edible. But it has pretty purple flowers that these insects hate.6
- Rosemary. The pungent pine-like scent drives away mosquitoes. It does well in the ground in warm climates. But if you live in the north, grow it in a pot and keep it inside in the winter. Use it generously in cooking. As a bonus, rosemary is a powerful antioxidant. It is linked to longevity and improved memory.
- Basil. Before your backyard barbecue, bruise a few leaves on your basil plant to help repel mosquitoes.
- Catnip. Mosquitoes can’t stand it and your cat will love you for growing it. It can be invasive and take over your yard. So restrict it to pots.
- Mint. Mint is also best grown in a pots because it spreads aggressively.
The #1 Natural Mosquito Repellant
- Lantana. It may be the best mosquito-repelling plant of all. Researchers in Africa found it was so effective that it helped control malaria. Scientists planted lantana outside 90 homes in Tanzania. They used another 231 homes as a control group. The lantana-planted homes had 83% fewer mosquitoes.
All of these plants will thrive in most parts of the country in the summer months when mosquitoes abound. An excellent strategy is to keep pots of them near doorways to keep mosquitoes out of your house. And plant them in high traffic areas throughout your yard.
As a reminder, before you install vegetation, rid your property of standing water. This is the most common breeding ground for mosquitoes.
In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch