by Andrea Brassfield
With threats of a buggy spring and summer, enjoying the great outdoors might be a little trickier, especially if you aren’t a fan of chemical pesticides and bug sprays. Fortunately, some selective planting in your landscape can also help with pesky, unwanted guests who want to crash your party.
Many decorative flowers and herbs offer natural insect-repelling qualities. Marigolds and Chrysanthemums contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. Petunias are brightly colored and planted to repel squash bugs, beetles, and aphids. Basil contains an oil that kills mosquito eggs. Lemongrass contains citronella oil and lemon balm has a calming, strong lemon scent that many undesirable insects find incredibly unpleasant. On the upside, bees, butterflies, and humans seem to love the fragrance!
Rosemary is another fantastic mosquito repellent. You can keep it indoors or out, making sure it gets full sun. Rosemary is also great when you want to gather around a fire without battling mosquitoes. Just toss some in and the incense it gives off when it’s burned adds a nice smell, but it’s strong and unpleasant enough to keep mosquitoes and other types of insects away.
Bugs and rodents hate mint, especially peppermint. Its essential oil has also been shown to kill larvae of many bug species and repel adults. Since mint is an aggressive growing plant, some suggest growing it in containers and placing them around your patio or garden.
Another popular plant used to repel mosquitoes is catnip. The plant contains an essential oil called nepetalactone. Eucalyptus, similar to citronella, also has a powerful smell that interferes with mosquitoes’ senses and makes it difficult for them to locate their food sources.
Other natural insect repellents commonly found around the home include vanilla extract and white vinegar.