As soon as the good weather arrives, everyone wants to spend more time outside. The trouble is that we have to share the outside with other creatures who are not so welcome in our gardens, especially mosquitoes.
Not everyone wants to coat themselves in DEET, and the good news is that there are natural allies in the shape of easily grown plants that can help to protect us from bites.
This is the source of probably the most familiar natural ingredient used in many insect repellents, sprays and candles, helping to prevent mosquito bites. It is a perennial clumping grass that can grow up to six feet tall, and it can be grown in the border in frost-free areas or in pots.
As with other mosquito-repellent plants, it works largely by the effect of its strong scent making it difficult for mosquitoes to find more tasty targets.
Catnip is another plant that seems to have a marked effect on mosquitoes. A Chicago study in 2001 found that it can be more effective than DEET. It is related to mint and grows very easily, especially in a sunny position. While it may be effective in deterring mosquitoes, remember that it can have the opposite effect on the neighborhood cats!
Add a Touch of Color and Scent
To get the best of both worlds, there are plenty of decorative plants that are also said to be effective in discouraging your flying pests.
Marigolds deter a variety of insects, while geraniums can be planted in abundance for a delightful show as well as to keep the garden mosquitoes at bay.
Ageratum is a low-growing ornamental annual with vivid flowers, and a number of herbs can be added like basil, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, and rosemary. So you can make your garden a place that discourages mosquitoes while at the same time supplying your kitchen with tasty ingredients.
A Word of Caution
Growing mosquito-repellent plants may not be the end of the story. Unless grown in huge abundance, most of the above plants are most effective when they are crushed to release the compounds that do the work, or in some cases infused with oils to make a natural repellent that you can apply to your skin.
None of them kill the insects or affect their breeding. For a more radical solution to your pest problem, whether for mosquito control in Atlanta or termite control in New Orleans, there are professional companies that can help you with advice and action.
Variety Always Helps
There are many ways to tackle any pest problem. With flying insects, a well-planned garden can certainly help. You can stock your garden with plants that produce vivid color, assorted textures, and delightful scents to enrich your outside leisure, your home, and your kitchen.
Of course, not all plants will thrive in every situation, and you may need to research and experiment to find those that will be happiest in your local environment. But there is no doubt that the right plants can be a valuable weapon in your ongoing battle with the mosquitoes.
Robert Kunst is an editorial consultant for Pest Control Technologies Magazine and is president of Fischer Environmental Services, for which he has won many awards.