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Mosquitoes-repelling plants

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
02 October 2021   |   3:35 am
The rainy season in the tropics means cooler, balmy weather and abundance of food from harvests of crops and vegetables. The environment is a beautiful lush green with bright colorful blooms everywhere.

The rainy season in the tropics means cooler, balmy weather and abundance of food from harvests of crops and vegetables. The environment is a beautiful lush green with bright colorful blooms everywhere.

Some highly fragrant plants perfume the air. The drawback of the rainy months, from around May to October, is when seasonal malaria disease-carrying mosquitoes ravage the populations. In the efforts to combat malaria, various campaigns that were launched, whether as preventive or as treatment measures for infected persons, eventually fail as the parasite that causes malaria develops widespread resistance against anti-malaria moves. If we really want to do anything good for this country’s development in terms of health, we need to stop malaria first. As the rainy season arrives, so do the malaria–carrying mosquitoes. Nothing disturbs the serenity than a pesky mosquito buzzing around your head. You may cover up with appropriate clothing and a hat or apply insect repellants. You may reach out for the DEET insecticide spray to start a chemical war, exposing yourself to neurotoxins and the environment to chemical degradation and pollution. But there has to be another way. Have you ever thought of adding some mosquito-repelling plants to your garden?

These natural mosquito deterrents such as the repelling plants and homemade mosquito traps will help you have mosquito-free environment. Using plant to deter and keep mosquitoes away from both your home and your skin is a natural and safe alternative to man-made products that contain chemicals. There are quite a number of plants you can add to your skin to keep mosquitoes away from you and your living environment. There are tons of research don’ts. So, to make the list of effective non-toxic options, a natural mosquito repellant must meet two requirements. It needs to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) and generally non-hazardous to people, pets, non- mosquito living creatures. Also, repellants and technique have to be scientifically proven to be effective.

There are two attractive natural options: mosquito-repelling plant and homemade natural mosquito traps. Many pests- repelling plants are known for their ability to repel insects, nematodes, and other pests. They may be used in companion with planting for pest control in agriculture and garden situations, and at home. The essential oils of many plants are also well known for their pest repelling-properties. Oils from the families of lamiaceas (mint), poacae (true grasses), and pinaeceae (pine) are common insect repellants worldwide. The plants can be planted or used fresh to deter mosquito and other pests. Oils found in certain types of plants especially, herbs, are natural mosquito deterrents.

Will you now give it a trial, adding some mosquito- repelling plants to your garden? Planting and growing insect-repelling plants provide opportunity to introduce the plants, which are a perfect mix of beauty and functionality. Most insect-repelling plants do so with their naturally occurring fragrance. Not only will these plants keep mosquitoes and such other insects (gnats, ticks fleas) at a minimum, they will introduce wonderful scents all through your garden and patio. Plant them around outdoor seating areas, pathways and close to doorways and windows. You will be planting not only for their colorful and fragrant display, but also their ability to keep your outdoor and in-door spaces clear of mosquitoes and other biting bugs. I think it is always worthwhile to consider the natural solutions rather than just reaching for the pharmaceutical or chemical options every time. Plant one or more of the examples given in this article and you will be keeping mosquitoes and other flying and biting insects, away from your living environment. At the least, you will be getting some pretty plants that smell beautiful into the landscape.

Citronella grass: It is an old favourite, sort of the original for bug repelling, with a powerful lemony scent. Everyone knows it is the most commonly used natural ingredient in many commercial insect repellants and candles are used around outdoor eating and seating areas. Citronella is a great mosquito repellant and it can be planted and used in a similar way as citronella candles, to keep flying insects away. For best result, plant citronella grass to height of 6 feet (1.82 metres) and forms in large grassy clumps. It’s an attractive ornamental grass. Plant it along walkways and seating areas to allow its strong fragrance to deter mosquitoes. Place the plant in large planters if your space is small. This also gives the ability to move your planters indoor if you live in cold and freezing climate, because it cannot withstand frost. Make sure you are planting the true varieties called citronella Cymbopogon Nardus or citronella Winterianus, as some others are just citronella scented. Citronella works by masking the surrounding scents around your home and garden that attract mosquitoes, preventing them from coming too near.

Lemon balm (Melissa Officialis): Also known as horsement, it repels mosquitoes by giving off a strong, incense-like odour, similar to citronella grass and lemon verbena. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, looks quite similar, but rather than having a minty fresh scent, it has a strong lemony aroma. The smell, a natural mosquito deterrent, does not deter bees and butterflies. Plant horsemint if you live in dry climates or near a coast as it can withstand dry weather, sandy soil and salty air. It is extremely aggressive, fast -growing and reseeds itself easily. Grow in a shaded or sunny area in planters with enough room to allow the plant to grow between 2 and 3 feet (60.96 and 91.44cm) in both width and height and you can move it around to a seating area where you want some relief from pesky mosquitoes. Lemon balm thrives happily in sum or other partial shade, in moist well-drained soil. Like other mint, it is invasive like a weed. It is best to keep it contained in a pot.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Basil is one of the few herbs that give off scent without the leaves having to be crushed or physically disturbed. There are many varieties of basil, but the ones with the most mosquito-repelling powers include lemon basil, cinnamon basil, and African basil.

Mint (Menthe spp): Usually grown in garden to flavour tea. However, mint also repels mosquitoes and you can make your own repellant with mint. All species of mint, both wild and cultivated, contain aromatic properties which are repulsive to insects.

Marigold (Tagetes spp): Popular annuals marigold are also found in flower beds, border and container as flowering ornamentals, but their mosquito-repelling ability hasn’t been widely advertised. Many gardeners use them in the vegetable garden as companion plants to deter insects, but as mosquito repellant, marigold is better in areas with fertilised soil that can be exposed to full sunlight at all times.

Lavender (Lavandula Angustifoli): Even though lavender is often enjoyed by humans, mosquitoes and many other insects don’t like the smell. This makes it a welcome addition to any garden, especially considering how attractive this plant is when it blooms. It can be planted in garden around sitting areas to deter pests or made into oil and applied to the skin as a natural repellant or mixed with other oils to keep mosquitoes away.

Rose Scented Monarda, Bee Balm: It is a colorful perennial, especially rich in geraniol, a compound that smells like roses. Turns out, geraniol is highly repellant to mosquitoes. Plant it and if you have large enough plants, you can cut, use stems and leaves as ‘strewing herbs” on your patio. Hybrid of rose scented Monarda has been developed for commercial and essential oil production. The extracted oil of the variety now sold as rose scented Monarda. It contains more than 90 per cent geraniol, which is the active ingredient in some commercial natural mosquito repellants.

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon Citrates): It contains citronella, natural oil that repels mosquitoes. Lemon grass is used to flavour things such as chicken and confectionaries. In folk medicine of India, it is used as an anti-inflammation. Lemon grass has such a wonderful aroma that it is often used in perfumes and toiletries

Catnip (Nepeta Cataria): It is a perennial in the mint family. A perennial with quite a reputable history as a herb. One trait that the plant is least known for is its mosquitoes-repelling ability. Nepetactone, the essential oil within the leaves that gives catnip its distinct smell, has been proven to be ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. Plant catnip around your patio garden.

Ageratum, plant: Ageratum grows within any climate. Ageratum secrets a scent considered offensive to mosquitoes and only grows to a maximum of 18 inches (45.72cm) in height. Grow the plant within any type of soil that receives partial or full exposure to direct sunlight.

Grow herbs such as rosemary, lemon thyme, garlic and nodding onions (Allium Cernuum) in addition to having the ability to eat them. These herbs will naturally keep mosquitoes away.

Pitcher Plant: (Nepenthes Alata): It is actually a carnivorous plant that is similar to a venus fly trap (which traps and ingests insect). Simply plant this in your yard and watch it work. These are just a few of effective natural mosquitoes-repelling plants. You may use them to work in concert with other non-toxic preventive measures.