Mosquitoes are perhaps the most-hated insect in the world — at least, by those who live in mosquito-riddled climates. These horrid little bugs are known for their tendency to feed on human blood. Worst of all, they leave itchy bites on your skin.
Are you sick of mosquitoes ruining your time outdoors? Well, there are some all-natural solutions. For example, filling your yard with certain plants can ward off these insects and keep your home mosquito-free. Here’s everything you need to know.
What Makes Mosquitoes So Pesky?
Believe it or not, mosquitoes are the world’s deadliest animal, causing approximately 725,000 deaths annually. Although mosquitoes only live for an average of six months and inhabit the same two- to three-mile radius for the entirety of their lifespan, these insects can still wreak plenty of havoc.
So, what draws them to bite people? Mosquitoes use their sense of smell to hunt for humans to prey on. They can pick up the scent of both carbon dioxide and lactic acid, making it easier for them to identify living mammals. While it may feel like mosquitoes are biting all of us when we’re outside, they are particularly drawn to people who are drinking beer, pregnant people and anyone wearing darker colors.
How can you prevent them from seeking you out? Consider creating an aromatic garden. Whether you put these plants in window boxes, pots, or directly in the ground, aromatic plants can both annoy these pests and keep them from tracking you down.
Plants That Ward Off Mosquitoes
The following plants are often used to repel mosquitoes:
- Basil: This aromatic herb is delicious on pizza and in pasta, but it’s also the perfect mosquito repellent. The strong smell of basil repels mosquitoes and similar pests. Basil is most aromatic in the heat, making it ideal if you’re fighting off mosquitoes in a hotter climate. While basil must receive plenty of sunlight and be watered regularly, the overall maintenance of this quick-growing herb is pretty simple.
- Garlic: Vampires aren’t the only bloodsuckers repelled by garlic. While garlic typically smells delicious to humans, mosquitoes hate the pungent stench. Like basil, garlic grows quickly when well-watered, making it an easy addition to most gardens.
- Lemongrass (and/or lemon balm): True to their names, both lemongrass and lemon balm have a strong citrus smell. Mosquitoes find this aroma unpleasant, which means they’ll stay away from any garden that features lemongrass or lemon balm.
- Peppermint: Notorious for its intense smell, peppermint makes a great natural mosquito repellent. The fragrance may be associated with freshness for most people, but it’s overpowering for these annoying insects.
- Rosemary: Rosemary’s sweet, woody scent isn’t one mosquitoes like. Try not only planting it around your yard, but, if you’re looking to go the extra mile, rub rosemary on your skin to keep mosquitoes at bay without any sticky bug spray.
Lavender: Used in everything from candles to air fresheners to laundry detergent, lavender is one of the most popular scents in the world. While this light and flowery smell may seem universally beloved, mosquitoes aren’t fans of the scent. When planted throughout a garden or yard, the strong scent of lavender will help throw mosquitoes off your trail.
Sage: This readily available herb is another great natural mosquito repellent — though only within short range. The best way to utilize this herb’s repellent powers is to plant the herb near common gathering areas, such as near outdoor tables or chairs. You can also take the leaves and rub them on your clothes and skin, or crush them up and leave them nearby; the oil they release will continue to repel mosquitoes.
Marigold: Marigolds can add a gorgeous pop of color to your garden, and, as an added bonus, they can keep your garden bug-free. Marigolds will steer mosquitoes away from you and keep pests away from your garden veggies. However, you’ll want to be careful where you plant your marigolds since they can attract wasps.
Catmint: Also known as catnip, catmint’s leaves are marked by their strong scent, making it great for repelling mosquitoes. This is so because catmint contains nepetalactone, an ingredient that’s even better at warding off insects than store-bought repellent. This easy-to-grow herb proliferates in the sun or partial shade with regular watering.
Other Safe Remedies for Menacing Mosquitoes
If your goal is to avoid the chemicals or intense odors found in store-bought bug-repellent products but you don’t have a green thumb (or the space) for plants, there are other safe, effective methods of mosquito control that are worth trying. One popular product? Citronella candles. The scent of these candles repels mosquitoes, though often only in small volumes, so this may not be ideal if your yard is particularly mosquito-filled.
You can also try homemade mosquito sprays, which are typically mixes of essential oils, such lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, coconut, lemongrass, rosemary oil, and more. To create a natural repellent, combine apple cider vinegar and essential oils — clove, citronella, or eucalyptus oil will do wonders. Other combinations that repel mosquitoes include mouthwash and Epsom salt, baking soda and vinegar (mixed in an empty bottle), garlic, water, lime juice, and mineral oil.
How Can You Treat Mosquito Bites?
Mosquito bites are itchy and uncomfortable, yet there are several safe remedies to get some relief at home. Applying aloe or honey to the site of your bite can help reduce inflammation and itchiness. Oatmeal paste and baking soda paste are also ideal ways to combat any skin irritation you might experience.
Teabags, specifically green tea or chamomile tea, can be wetted, cooled, and applied to your skin to promote faster healing of mosquito bites. Additionally, you can use some of the plants listed in the prior section as a bite remedy. For example, mix crushed garlic with coconut oil, or create a basil rub from water and dried basil leaves.