Nobody really knows why insect repellants work, but here are a few familiar herbs that you can use to stay mosquito bite-free this season. You can keep crushed leaves in containers around your patio or you can rub the crushed leaves of all except marigolds and wormwood, which cause contact dermatitis, on your skin for added protection. Some also repel other insects in the garden or home.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- 10 times more effective than DEET, the compound used in most commercial insect repellents, at keeping mosquitoes away.
- cats will crush this plant if it is in a garden bed and it has a tendency to become invasive, but keeping a couple of plants in hanging containers helps avoid both problems.
- also repels cockroaches and repels ants
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
- great for repelling mosquitoes and other flying biting insects
- ideal for planting around outdoor seating areas, pathways and close to doorways to act as an insect deterrence
- also repels moths, flies, ants, mice, cockroaches, mites and bedbugs
- also used for treating insect bites
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- most useful for repelling mosquitoes and gnats when planted in the garden it can also be planted in pots and placed by doorways and windows
- cut and or dried lavender can be placed on windowsills to stop mosquitoes entering the house
- dried lavender flowers can also be used in wardrobes to repel moths and keep clothes smelling fresh
- also repels flies, silverfish and fleas
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
- the lemon scent, which repels the mosquitoes, is very strong
- plant the lemon balm outside, perhaps near your front or back door, or on your deck, patio or wherever else you often sit outside, as the plants will help ward off bugs in those areas
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
- this plant has a lemony scent that mosquitoes hate
- also used to repel fleas
Marigold (Tagetes spp)
- do not rub on skin
- in addition to mosquitoes, marigolds repel garden pests, such as aphids and whiteflies, plus are an excellent companion plant for your vegetable garden
- also kills nematodes
Mint (Mentha spp)
- oils are unpleasant to mosquitoes, so keep a pot or two of these handy and aromatic plants around
- as an added bonus, can also do double-duty as itch relief if you do get bitten!
- also repels flies, fleas, mice, rats and ants.
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
- repels mosquitoes and gnats
- great to plant in the garden, but it is best utilized as a topical insect repellent applied to the skin
- crush the stems and put them in pockets, bags and hats.
- crushed pennyroyal leaves and stems can also be rubbed on dogs to help repel ticks and fleas.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- oil of this shrub is heavenly to most humans, but disgusting to mosquitoes.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
- Do not rub on skin
- repels mosquitoes, moths, slugs, and flies
- also repels ants as well as mice
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world and all who live in it”