8 Best Mosquito Repellent Plants

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Look, the mosquitoes are horrible. They ring in your ear, leave itchy red bites and can even spread the disease. No thanks. Insects can be great food for birds and bats, but you certainly don’t want them hanging around in your garden (trust us, mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile virus, malaria and Zika are not health problems that you want to explore personally)). Fortunately, there are several ways to repel mosquitoes naturally, without using sprays.

First, you will want to make your outdoor living spaces less welcoming to mosquito eggs by getting rid of any standing water (including water from clogged gutters, bird baths and flower pots). You should also cut any tall grass or brush that creates cool, shaded, or damp spots that mosquitoes prefer.

Alternatively, you can use the power of perfume to help you. Some strong odors can both hide people’s scent (something that attracts mosquitoes) and prevent insects from wanting to get close enough to bite you. This is why DEET insect repellents and lemongrass candles sell like hotcakes in summer. There are also several strong-smelling mosquito plants that humans find pleasant and that mosquitoes hate. The aroma should be in the air around you, at least, but ideally on your skin.

To get the maximum effect from these natural mosquito repellants, mash the herb leaves in your hands to release their scent and essential oils, then rub the leaves and oils on your skin.

NOTE: Some of these plants can cause skin irritation. If you are dry or sensitive, you should avoid using them. You should not use if you are allergic to any of these plants, and you should always do a test patch on a small part of your skin before using it.


Lemon balm

lemon balm plant

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This member of the mint family has white flowers and a sweet lemony scent, as well as healing properties. Lemon balm is particularly effective at keeping mosquitoes away, but it is also a fast cultivator, so be careful when planting it in your garden. It does well if you plant it in a pot on your patio or other outdoor spaces.

Catnip

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This mint-scented cousin contains a natural chemical called nepetalactone, which is both a feline attractant and a useful insect repellent. Although if you are not interested in a group of cats that roam the area, skip this one and move on to another plant.

Basil

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A 2009 study showed that the essential oil in this delicious staple food for your indoor herb garden is toxic to mosquito larvae. Grow this amazing plant around all natural water sources, such as a pond, and this can control the rate of laid eggs.

Lavender

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Lavender can repel flying insects such as mosquitoes, moths and flies. The scent of the flower is well known, and even if it will scent the air, the most effective way to use it to fight against pests is to rub the plant on your skin to release its oils.

Pepper mint

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In its concentrated form, peppermint is sometimes used as an insect repellant, and its oil has been shown to repel adults and kill larvae and eggs of several species.

Citrosum (aka mosquito plant)

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This perennial is actually marketed as a “mosquito plant”, and sometimes called the lemongrass plant mainly because of its strong lemongrass scent. Unfortunately, although it is the most sold, some research suggests that it is also the least effective garden plant for mosquito control. Still, there are certain benefits to rubbing the crushed leaves on your skin, and if there is nothing else around, this will provide some protection.

Sage and rosemary

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If you plan to gather around a fire, try burning a little sage or rosemary. The incense these plants give off when they burn not only smells good, but is unpleasant enough for most insect species to repel them – as long as you are near the smoke.

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