There are many natural alternatives to synthetic insect repellents.
Our patios, decks, porches, and yards offer the rare opportunity to extend our living space, and to be truly at home in the outdoors. From landscaped grounds to the tiniest urban balcony, nearly any exterior area can be the setting for a comfortable outdoor room, but pesky bugs are quick to drive a party indoors.
Many people slather themselves in a synthetic chemical cocktail in efforts to keep biting, stinging nasties at bay. But there are plenty of reasons to stay away from commercial insect repellents and use more natural deterrents such as plants. Here are some tips for a chemical-free way to keep insects at bay this spring and summer, and some easy-to-grow plants that can help deter bugs and insects.
Marigolds are hardy annual plants with a distinctive smell which mosquitoes and bugs like aphids find particularly offensive. They prefer full sunlight and reasonably fertile soil. Although marigolds can be planted from seed, starter plants are inexpensive. Potted marigolds can be positioned near entrances to your home and any common mosquito/bug entry points, such as open windows and furnished courtyards and balconies. The smell may deter mosquitoes and bugs from going past this barrier.
Rosemary is also a herb which contains wonderful properties for keeping fleas and ticks away. The woody smell keeps all the unwanted insects at bay; that’s why permaculture farmers love planting rosemary throughout their fields. Grow rosemary in pots then shift it indoors in winter, since the plant does not tolerate long periods of cold climate. To control mosquitoes in warmer months, place rosemary plant pots in the yard and they can be moved about as you please.
This easy-to-grow herb also has several additional applications, from infused teas and vinegars to green salads. Lemon balm also keeps mosquitoes at bay as its leaves contain citronella compounds. You can grow lemon balm plants in your garden and allow them to thrive, leaving less room for mosquitoes to linger. For a personal mosquito repellent, you can also rub crushed lemon balm leaves on your skin.
Lemon grass contains natural citronella essential oil to repel mosquitoes and stable flies, which prey on domestic animals. Lemongrass is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisines and as medicinal herb in India. It works in a similar way as a potent natural insect repellent, with the added benefit of antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Lavender offers practical protection from mosquitoes, flies, fleas, and moths. It can be planted near entryways or freshly cut and placed in a window to keep bugs outside. Lavender has been used for centuries to add a pleasantly sweet fragrance to homes and clothes drawers. Although people love the smell of lavender, mosquitoes, flies, and other unwanted insects hate it.
Basil repels houseflies and mosquitos naturally. Simply get your garden area some pots of basil. As one of the most pungent of herbs, basil makes an outstanding natural mosquito repellent, giving off a scent without the leaves having to be crushed or touched.
Petunias repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs. They are popular mostly because they are available in a variety of bright colours, and require such minimal maintenance that they are almost foolproof to grow They can be grown in garden beds, containers, or hanging baskets. Plant them in sunny areas near vegetables and herbs such as beans, tomatoes, peppers, and basil.
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