The days are getting longer, the mercury’s creeping up, school children are counting down the days until school is out, all of the welcome signs of summer are here and unfortunately one of the most despised creatures of summer are waking up, the mosquitoes are back! The official start of summer is Mid-June however, our friends the mosquitoes like to get a jump start on the season and here in Houston, the age old battle of woman vs skeeter is already in full swing.
Not only are mosquitoes a major nuisance, their bites carry health risks from minor inconveniences like a localized allergic reaction to life threatening diseases like West Nile and encephalitis. Interesting fact, according to the Illinois Department of Health, “Mosquitoes are the most dangerous creature on earth. Mosquitoes and the diseases they spread have been responsible for killing more people than all the wars in history. Even today, mosquitoes transmitting malaria kill 2 million to 3 million people and infect another 200 million or more every year. Tens of millions more are killed and debilitated by a host of other mosquito-borne diseases, including filariasis, yellow fever, dengue and encephalitis.” Fortunately, for those of us in the US we don’t have too much to worry with regards to Malaria or Yellow Fever but the other diseases mosquitoes can carry pose a very real risk.
So how do we keep ourselves and our little ones safe? Bug Spray is always an option but what if you’re looking for a natural alternative or supplement to drug store bug sprays? Good news, Mother Nature’s got your back. There are a variety of plants with natural mosquito repellent properties that even those of us with a not so green thumb can easily maintain. And great news, many of these mosquito repellent plants also happen to be popular herbs used in cooking so planting a few outside your back door has the additional benefit of not only keeping the little vampires at bay but also provides you and your family with some awesome fresh cooking ingredients.
A list of Mosquito Repellent Plants and a little insight on how readily available I found these plants to be.
- Citronella – Great news, every nursery we visited in Houston had Citronella.
- Horse Mint or Mentha Longifolia – We didn’t have luck finding wild mint at the nursery however, they did have a variety of mint plants which are suggested to have similar repellent characteristics.
- Marigolds – Probably the most readily available of the plants on the list, Marigolds are in a variety of shades (sometimes you can even find them at your grocery store in the summer months.) Added bonus, Marigolds are great way to add a pop of color to your yard while keeping not only mosquitoes but many other garden nuisance insect and animals away.
- Ageratum or White Weed – I didn’t have luck tracking this one down. It apparently is a rather aggressive plant that is prone to becoming a rampant weed if not contained (no thanks!)
- Catnip – Good news for all those cat lovers out there plant a treat for your furry friend and reap the benefits.
- Basil – Good old Basil, a staple in Italian cooking this is a great one to plant and harvest as needed.
- Lemon Grass Cymbopogon (Lemongrass, Citronella Grass or Fever Grass) – Another cooking staple, Lemon Grass is used heavily in Asian cooking. This hearty plant is great in a large pot by your front and back doors to keep the mosquitoes away. I didn’t have luck finding this at the nursery because I was looking for Lemon Grass and didn’t know its scientific name or the other common names however, we did find seeds and are in the process of germinating those now.
- Lemon Thyme – Notice a trend here, another hand kitchen herb makes the list. Lemon Thyme is readily available all over.
- Lavender – By far my daughters and I’s favorite, we picked up two large Lavender plants to place on our patio furniture and we’re really enjoying the plants, lavender is beautiful and so fragrant. This is another plant we didn’t have any trouble finding.
- Painted Daisy Chrysanthemum coccineum – Another fun way to incorporate color into an anti-mosquito garden. We’re in the process of germinating seeds now (a great way to quickly germinate seeds is to place them in a sealed ziplock bag with a wet paper towel.)
As you can see there are lots of great options for keeping the mosquitoes at bay and upgrading your landscaping a bit. Have you heard of more or had great success with any of these? Let us know in the comments below.
We’ll keep you updated throughout the summer as to how these are working.
Also, if you’re in need of an all natural bug spray that’s safe for infants, pregnant and nursing moms check out this 100% organic insect repellent from Zoe Organics.