It sound great to have a potted plant around your patio or backyard that not only create attractive greenery but also repel mosquitoes. For outdoor lovers, this would be an excellent solution to these stubborn insects. Let’s find out, do mosquito repellent plants really work?
Mosquitoes are dangerous insects that can bite your skin for blood. This is not only itchy and painful but there is also the risk of contracting infectious diseases like malaria that is spread by female anopheles mosquitoes.
Do Mosquito Repellent Plants Work?
There are several plants that keep away bugs including mosquitoes. You have heard of citronella, mints (peppermint, horsemint), Marigolds, lemon balm herb, lavender, petunias, scented geraniums, basil, lemongrass and more. These bug plants are said to produce fragrances that repel mosquitoes.
Many of mosquito repellent plants contain essential oils which naturally has strong insect-repellent properties. There is no doubt that crushing and rubbing leaves of a citronella plant on skin keeps away mosquitoes. However, the effect is not lasting and cannot be compared to DEET or other citronella scents.
Mosquitoes have incredible sense of smell that help them to locate us by sniffing carbon dioxide we exhale. Mosquito plants are capable of producing fragrances which can confuse a mosquito while trying to locate a target. However, plants can only release a significant amount of fragrance when shaken, crushed or burnt.
According to research, there is no evidence that just having citronella plants around will keep mosquitoes away from your patio, garden or home. Substantial amount of research has also establish that there is no significant difference in the number of mosquitoes landing on a person when these plants are present or not.
While rubbing crushed leaves may bring a slight mosquito repelling effect, this can trigger skin allergic reaction for some people. Additionally, essential oils and extracts from these plants have a limited life and their effect wears off relatively quickly.
This does not mean that mosquito repellent plants are worthless. Most of these plants provide good ornamental foliage and greenery in a garden. You will also love it when they bloom and attract beautiful butterflies in your yard.
How to Keep Away Mosquitoes Naturally
There are plenty ways of keeping away mosquitoes while outdoors. Natural mosquito repellents are safe and environment friendly. The natural ingredients does not actually kill mosquitoes but work by making people to be less attractive to the insects. Here are the most effective natural control for mosquitos.
Essential oils are extracted from the famous bug repellent plants.
1. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
This is an essential oil containing 85% citronella. This ingredient can offer protection from mosquitoes for up to 3 hours. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil has a shorter protection time as it evaporates quickly. If you decide on this oil, go for “insect repellent” version and not the “pure oil” version
2. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint mint is an effective mosquito repellent in high concentrations. Although not lasting as DEET, it can offer protection for up to 3 hours. You can buy the oil from food stores or in some grocery.
3. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil with a coconut oil base is capable of offering great protection against mosquitoes for up to 4 hours. Heated Eucalyptus leaves also has insect repellency of 2 hours.
4. Catnip Essential Oil
This is a natural mosquito repellant that keeps insects away for up to 2 hours. Catnip is a plant from mint family. Its oil extract can be purchased from a nearby grocery or garden center.
5. Lemon Grass Oil
Lemon grass essential oil combined with olive oil provides excellent mosquito repulsion that goes up to 2 hours.
6. Basil Essential Oil
Basil essential oil is effective in keeping mosquitoes away from your skin. It offers protection for more than 6 hours.
7. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural mosquito repellent that offer great protection of more than 3 hours. Burning of neem leaves also keeps away insects including mosquitoes.
8. Thyme Oil
Topical application of thyme essential oil repels mosquitoes for up to 2 hours. The same results are also achieved by burning thyme leaves.
Keeping your yard kempt is a sure way of reducing mosquito population. Remove any standing water in your yard as this is where mosquitoes breed from. Additionally, keep your grass and shrubs trimmed and collect all the debris that may attract dampness such as old tires, open cans and plant materials.
Essential oils are effective in protecting against mosquitoes but they evaporate from skin quickly. This makes them to have a shorter protection time as compared to synthetic mosquito repellents for yard such as DEET.
Essential oils might also have some side effects on skin. Do a patch test and avoid using on children under 3 years old. Further, using oil diffusers may result to inhalation of excess essential oils which may affect your health.
Mosquitoes are majorly attracted to stagnant water and dark or damp areas in the yard. Ensuring that your yard is well kempt will greatly reduce the population of mosquitoes in your outdoor areas.