by P. Gough on April 20th, 2010 at 7:00 am
Buzz… Slap! Buzz… Smack! Warm weather will soon be moving in and mosquitoes will start thriving. I’m looking forward to hosting many backyard barbecues, but I won’t be able to relax and enjoy the food if I’m constantly swatting mosquitoes. I don’t want to slather myself with DEET, so I’m looking for a natural solution.
At first I was very excited to read about plants that naturally repel mosquitoes and other insects. The list of mosquito repelling plants included Citronella Grass, Catnip, Rosemary, Peppermint, Marigolds, Garlic, Lemon balm and Eucalyptus. I called my mom who lives in Florida and is already dealing with these pests to spread the good news, but she didn’t believe it and had to test the theory herself. She spent the evening in her garden looking for mosquitoes and found just as many swarmed her when she stood near the peppermint and rosemary as when she stood among her tomato plants.
So, what’s the truth about natural mosquito repellents and why do so many sources claim these plants are great for repelling mosquitoes and other insects?
Plants can be Made into a Natural Insect Repellent
Some plants do contain mosquito-repelling properties, but just planting some citronella grass won’t keep the bugs away. The mosquito-repelling oils and aromas are within the plants leaves and stems, and you must break, crush, or rub the plant to release the natural repellents. To make your own insect repellent from a plant, chop and crush a cup of leaves and stems and then add rice vinegar, vodka or jojoba oil. Don’t forget to apply your homemade repellent frequently as many natural solutions only work for 20 minutes.
Lemon Eucalyptus & Citronella Grass are the Best Natural Mosquito Repellents
The CDC and University of Florida both conducted their own tests on natural repellents and found Lemon Eucalyptus and Citronella Grass are the two most effective plants for repelling insects. The oil from Lemon Eucalyptus repelled mosquitoes for two hours, just as long as OFF! Skintastic. If you are looking for an alternative to DEET I recommend either making your own plant based insect repellent or looking for one with either of these plants as an active ingredient.
More Tips to Keep Mosquitoes Away Naturally
- Remove all standing water. Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week if not more often. If you have a fountain or other non-chlorinated body of water, consider adding fish, which will eat mosquito larvae.
- Don’t use perfumes, scented soaps, or hair products. Some insects are attracted to sweet scents; if you want some scent use peppermint.
- Burn citronella candles (only outdoors as the fumes can be harmful to your health).
- Bring a fan outside. Mosquitoes are not strong fliers, so they will seek refuge elsewhere.
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