Which plants repel mosquitoes and other insects in the backyard and garden? Here’s a list of the best insect-repelling plants to use in your garden.
It’s not just mosquitoes; gnats, biting flies, ants, and other pests can take the fun right out of any outdoor activity.
Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance, too, as there are many mosquito-borne diseases out there, including viruses such as West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Dengue.
The Key: Blocking Insects’ Scent Receptors
Mosquitoes and many other insects target their victims by the odors and gases we give off—carbon dioxide, sweat, and smelly feet to name a few. They can be attracted from as far as 100 feet away.
Luckily, the scents of mint, fruit, and even chocolate can block the receptors that the bugs use to find us.
Since many plants give off these fragrances naturally, why not plant them around your yard or put some pots of them on your deck or patio to ward off the biters? It won’t magically make the area a bug-free zone, but it may help to reduce their presence.
Plants That Repel Mosquitoes and Other Insects
First of all, many plants that are listed as “insect-repelling” are, in fact, not. Here are a few plants that I have found to actually help repel the bugs that bug us:
- Lemon grass has proven mosquito-repelling abilities. Since it is hardy only in tropical zones, plant yours in a pot and bring it inside when the temperatures drop if you intend to keep it over the winter.
- While we are on the topic of lemon, there are a couple other plants with a strong, citrus fragrance that will keep bugs at bay. Try lemon thyme or lemon balm. Lemon balm is in the mint family, so confine it to a pot to keep it from spreading crazily.
- Lemon-scented geraniums are often marketed as “mosquito plants,” but there’s little evidence that they have much of an effect. Stick to the other citrus-scented plants instead.
- Lavender has a strong scent that repels moths, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Use it fresh or dry some of the flowers to hang around the house or put in with your clothing to keep bugs out. Here’s how to make lavendar sachets.
- Garlic keeps away more than vampires. It repels mosquitoes and cabbage moths, too.
- Rosemary may prevent flies and mosquitoes from ruining a cookout. If the bugs are really bad, like around dusk, throw a few sprigs of rosemary on the grill and the aromatic smoke will help drive the mosquitoes away.
- Basil is another culinary herb that does double duty by repelling flies and mosquitoes, too. It’s one of the most pungent herbs that is known to be effective.
- Peppermint exudes a strong fragrance that ants, mosquitoes, and even mice don’t like. Grow it in a pot to contain its rampant growth.
- Catmints including catnip have been found to be even more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes and ants. Just be sure to locate catnip away from plants that can’t take being rolled on by all the cats in the neighborhood.
- Marigolds have long been the gardener’s companion for repelling damaging nematodes (microscopic worms) that attack the roots of garden vegetables, but they can fend off mosquitoes as well.
I’m sure there are other plants that have acquired a bug-repelling reputation, but I wouldn’t depend on only a few plants to make my yard insect-free. One of the most effective things you can do to cut the mosquito population down is to eliminate any standing water where their larvae may be living.
► For more mosquito repellent advice, see Natural Mosquito Repellents and Mosquito Bite Remedies.
Do you have any tips for keep mosquitoes and other biting bugs away? Share them in the comments below!