Summer is a great time of year because you can be outside doing lots of fun activities you can’t enjoy when it’s cold out such as swimming, barbecuing, or playing games outside in your backyard with your friends. Something that often keeps people from enjoying their time outside are bugs, and they can make you feel like there’s no way they’ll ever leave.
From mosquitoes to gnats, bugs love coming out in the summer, which means you’re either going to have to get used to swatting at them or you’re going to fight back. The biggest problem with bugs is that the store-bought pest repellents have lots of potentially hazardous chemicals in them, many of which aren’t good for you to use all the time. So how do you get rid of those annoying insects?
If you’ve got some ground space or even a pot, plants could offer some help. Plants are a natural way to discourage annoying insects from coming around, and they’re cheap, too. If you’re interested in using natural pest repellent plants, first check to see if any of these plants would thrive where you live, and then try some out. In addition to beautifying your surroundings, and your body will thank you for laying off some of the bug spray chemicals.
How Plants Help Repel Insects
Not only are certain herbs handy to have around, whether you are using them for cooking or for pure enjoyment of their naturally delicious smells, but they can be super helpful in warding off insects because of the aromas they give off.
Plants contain oils, known as volatile oils, and these oils are responsible for a plant’s distinctive odor. The volatile oils in the plants we’ll discuss below, can deter bugs away from them, and you, if you have enough of these plants close by.
6 Natural Pest Repellent Plants
Ants always become a big issue in the summer, since it’s picnic season. Once they find your outdoor dinner, they’ll stick around for what feels like forever, but mint is an easy way to solve this issue. Ants dislike the smell of peppermint, since it interferes with their capability to communicate via pheromone markings. You can repel ants and even flies by growing some mint outside your door, or spray it in the form of a peppermint essential oil around doorways and windows (Taylor, 2016).
You can buy a mint plant at your local grocery store or plant nursery, put it in a pot with fresh soil, and you’ll have instant access to ant repellant. Just line the mint around where you don’t want ants to go, and you’re done!
It’s popular now to dry out lavender and hang it upside-down as a decoration in your house, but it’s actually a perfect mosquito repellant when alive and blooming.
The lavender plant produces an oil that masks the human scent, making it harder for mosquitoes to find you when you’re by the plant. And if you find that you plant more than enough lavender, you can easily dry it out and use your clippings as an artsy decoration (Bernier et al., 2005).
If you’re not a fan of the way lavender smells, but you still want the mosquitoes to go away, try planting some lemongrass instead.
Lemongrass contains an alcohol called geraniol that has been shown in scientific studies to be an effective alternative to DEET (Novak, 2017). It works especially well on mosquitoes and is easy to take care of, so it’ll do fine in a pot on a balcony or in a yard. Although this chemical is active within lemongrass and have shown to be effective in decreasing bugs, it is not as effective as the lemongrass essential oil.
Rosemary is a common herb that’s added to meals when they need an extra kick. It’s also great at kicking out bugs you don’t want around your yard. Not only do mosquitoes hate rosemary, but cockroaches do, too. The main reason for this is because of rosemary’s potent fragrance.
You can easily use this herb by sprinkling the soft leaves wherever you find the bugs the most. To make this method even stronger, take the leaves and combine them with wood chips. Then, spread the mixture around recreational areas of your yard to help decrease the migration of these pests (Caouette, 2016).
Marigolds are beautiful golden flowers that add a gorgeous pop of color to any yard or balcony. They’re hardy plants that love the sun, so they’ll grow well in the heart of bug season—also known as summer. Not only will they look amazing no matter where they’re planted, they’ll also fight off mosquitoes and aphids for you, too.
The reason for this is because marigolds contain a variety of chemicals that, together, produce their pungent smell (“Do Marigolds Repel,” 2017). This smell deters mosquitos and can help protect the skin from mosquito bits for several hours.
If your goal is to fight back against your local bugs with the strongest plant you can find, catnip is exactly what you’re looking for. This plant is known for the funny way it affects housecats and for the way it smells. The essential oil that creates this iconic smell is the same component of the plant that gets rid of bugs.
Catnip is best known for fighting small bugs and cockroaches, and recently a study proved that nepetalactone, a component of the essential oil produced by catnip, repelled mosquitoes ten times more than DEET, the leading compound used in bug sprays. However, the plant won’t be as effective, but it can certainly help (American Chemical Society, 2001).
Go plant some catnip and skip the hazardous chemicals! The bugs will stay away longer and faster, and your cats will love you even more.
Plants are a cheap and easy way to repel even the most annoying bugs during the summer months. And, if you can take care of them during the winter, they’ll do the same great job the next summer, saving you money in the long run. Experiment with some this season and see just how plants can save you from pests.
American Chemical Society. (2001, August 28). Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010828075659.htm
Bernier, U.R., Furman, K.D., Kline, D.L., Allan, S., & Barnard, D.R. (2005). Comparison of contact and spatial repellency of catnip oil and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (deet) against mosquitoes. Journal of Med Entomology, 42(3), 306-311. University of Nebraska / Lincoln.
Caouette, D. (2016, June 4). What you need to know about Ticks and Mosquitoes on Cape Cod. Retrieved July 24, 2017 from http://www.capecodpestpros.com/2016/06/04/capecod-com-article-ticks-mosquitoes/
Cox, C. (2005). Plant-Based Mosquito Repellents: Making a Careful Choice. Journal of Pesticide Reform. Retrieved July 24, 2017 from http://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/mosquito/documents/NCAPrepellents.pdf
Do Marigolds Repel Mosquitoes? Planting Marigold to Keep Bugs Away. (2017, June 15). Retrieved July 24, 2017 from http://www.fightbugs.com/do-marigolds-repel-mosquitoes/
Novak, S. (2017). CDC confirms lemon eucalyptus oil as effective as DEET. Retrieved July 26, 2017 from https://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/cdc-confirms-lemon-eucalyptus-oil-as-effective-as-deet.html
Taylor, J. (2016, April 22). 10 Most Effective Ways to Get Rid of Ants from Your Home & Garden. Retrieved July 24, 2017 from http://www.naturallivingideas.com/get-rid-of-ants/