Use Plants As Natural Insect Repellent

Edited by Jan Margery Castillo, Anonymous, Lynn, Eng and 8 others

Nothing can compare to spending time in the great outdoors - having picnics, barbecues, beach parties, and going camping - who doesn't love that? The rays of sunshine that redden our cheeks, the relaxing sound of birds chirping and the rivers flowing, the cool breeze of the wind that brushes our skin…and then, then…the mosquitoes. The annoying buzz. The mosquito bites. The scratching.

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Your amazing outdoor adventure can be ruined by insects.

The problem with commercial insect repellents is the chemicals they contain may cause you more harm than good. Maybe it's time to stop using your store-bought insect repellent, especially on your children, and learn a little about natural insect repellents.

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Mosquito.jpg

An insect repellent is a lotion or oil applied to the skin to prevent insects from coming near. Common insects that seem so small, but can cause such big problems, include mosquitoes and other arthropods such as fleas, flies, ticks, etc. These insects are the culprits for transmitting diseases like malaria, encephalitis, dengue fever, bubonic plague, yellow fever and Lyme disease to humans.

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Mosquitoes are almost everywhere and they attack at different times of the day. They have their own ways of detecting a host. Most commonly, they are attracted to dark areas, dark clothing, moisture, lactic acid, floral or fruity smells, carbon dioxide and skin temperature. This is why repellents come in different forms - skin lotions, oils, sprays, mosquito stickers and even sound producing electronic devices.

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Commercial insect repellents that are applied to skin often include DEET or N,N-Diethyl-meta-toulamide. This is the active ingredient that is very efficient in driving biting insects away. The amount of DEET in commercial products can vary from 5-25 percent. DEET is actually toxic when absorbed by the body through the skin. This slightly yellow oil chemical is not good for children, especially those under two years of age. Studies show that kids who are exposed to DEET are susceptible to seizures, hypertension and slurred speech. Adults, on the other hand, experience insomnia, moodiness and slightly impaired cognitive function.

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Natural Insect Repellent Plants

While DEET is very effective at repelling insects, particularly on areas with endemic-borne diseases, there are still natural alternatives that can be used instead. There are plants, essential oils and even alcohol that are just as efficient in preventing mosquitoes from coming near. The following are plants and herbs that naturally shoo insects away. These are must-haves for every household to protect the family.

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Citronella

Mosquitoes hate the aroma of a citronella plant. The strong scent makes it hard for the mosquito to find its host. Citronella is a clumping plant that is native to Asia but grows widely in the United States. It is easy to grow this perennial plant because it is low maintenance. It only needs to be nourished with nitrogen fertilizer once a year. Citronella plants thrive in both the summer and cold seasons. They can be planted in soil as a background for garden flowers or on casters to bring indoors during the winter. Its grass blades grow up to five or six feet tall, but it can cause irritation to the skin. You can buy citronella in small pots from any garden center, but make sure you only buy the true variety "Cybopogon Nardus or Citronella". Some plants smell like citronella, but don't really have mosquito repelling qualities.

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  1. 1
    Citronella Oil.
    There are essential oils in citronella that are available in the market. It might be a bit expensive, but you can always make your own own citronella oil.
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    1. A few drops of this oil are applied to the skin for protection. However, you'll need to reapply every 30-60 minutes because the oil evaporates quickly, and loses its potency.
    2. Essential oils are also used to make scented candles and torches. The fumes from the candles and lanterns scare away mosquitoes. Essential oils from citronella are also arthropods repellent.
    3. Only 5-10 percent concentration for citronella oil based repellent is recommended, because adding too much can cause skin irritation.
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  2. 2
    Plant citronella on your walkways, near sitting areas and in garden borders to prevent mosquitoes from coming.
    You may grow these along with lavender and feverfew plants. These three plants will definitely scare mosquitoes away.
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  3. 3
    The plant is also found to have a calming effect on barking dogs, and anti fungal properties.
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Lemon Eucalyptus

This plant has a scent quite similar to citronella. It grows up to 75 feet tall. The leaves, bark, and wood of this tree can be used for so many purposes. The leaves are great for driving away mosquitoes. According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), lemon eucalyptus is comparable to DEET when it comes to efficiency. There was a study in 2006 which concluded that a plant-based product with 40 percent lemon eucalyptus oil is equally effective to DEET based products.

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Eucalyptus 1.jpg
  1. 1
    Make your own skin repellent by mixing 10 percent lemon eucalyptus to witch hazel.
    You may also use other oil carries such as olive oil or vodka because oils technically don't blend with water. The proportion should be 20-25 drops of essential oil to 2 tablespoons of witch hazel.
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  2. 2
    It is not advisable to apply lemon eucalyptus oil on the skin of children under the age of 3, irritate the skin.
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  3. 3
    Plant some lemon eucalyptus along the borders of your garden to deter mosquitoes.
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Horsemint

Like citronella, this plant has a very strong smell. Commonly known as Bee Balm or Lemon Balm, it is specifically known for its incense-like odor, which irritates mosquitoes. It is also low maintenance and can survive through a long hot summer. It grows to two to three feet tall and can be planted in the ground. or in pots. There are many horsemint plants on the beach because it is drought resistant. Having this plant in pots near sitting areas of your home will drive mosquitoes away. Another benefit of having this plant around is that its dry leaves can be used for herbal tea. Its flowers naturally attract bees and butterflies.

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Lavender

With its tiny lilac flowers Lavender is a very attractive plant. Its scent is very calming and sweet, but mosquitoes hate it. Lavender is not just an ornamental plant growing in your garden. Aside from mosquitoes, and the bonus that it also repels gnats, Lavender has a myriad of medicinal uses and aesthetic qualities. You can also plant them in pots and place near doors and Windows to keep mosquitoes from coming into the house. It's also ideal to have lavender near dining or sitting areas for protection and aesthetics purposes. Here are some other uses of a lavender plant:

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  1. 1
    Dried lavender flowers can be used in wardrobes to prevent moths from forming and to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
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  2. 2
    Lavender essential oil is a natural insect repellent.
    If you don't have the oil, but you have lavender plants at home, you may use the fresh leaves by crushing some pieces and rubbing them directly on the skin.
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  3. 3
    Place some cut and dried lavender on your windowsills to keep mosquitoes outside.
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  4. 4
    Lavender essential oil dabbed at the temples, is useful for migraines.
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  5. 5
    The scent of Lavender scent promotes relaxation and a calming sleep.
    For hundreds of years, people have made lavender pillows with the dried herb.
    Lavenderplant.jpg
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Catnip

Catnip is an herb that comes from the mint family. This is a very powerful natural mosquito repellent that can be cultivated, but also grows wild. The natural oil from catnip, according to a study done by the Iowa State University, is 10 times stronger than DEET. Although no one can explain why, it's so efficient, mosquitoes just won't go near any catnip plant.

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Catnip.jpg
  1. 1
    Crush the leaves of catnip herb and apply to your skin as a natural repellent.
    Note that cats love this herb so much because of the chemical "nepetalactone" that the crushed leaves produce. Don't be surprised if cats rub themselves on this plant. They even eat it sometimes, so you might want to consider other insect repellent plants if you don't want your cat to eat this.
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  2. 2
    Plant catnip around your garden, and on your deck or patio to keep mosquitoes away.
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Basil

There are many types of basil, but the most effective kinds to block mosquitoes away are the lemon, cinnamon and Peruvian basil. The leaves of this herb are very aromatic, even if you don't crush it. Basically, this herb needs to be damp always, but it's fine with a little sun exposure too. You may plant it in little containers if you want it indoors, or just let it grow in the garden along with some flowers.

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Basilplant.jpg
  1. 1
    Get fresh basil leaves and crush them.
    Rub them directly onto your skin to prevent mosquitoes from coming near.
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  2. 2
    Make your own [themarathonmom.com/make-your-own-mosquito-repellent.htm basil leaf repellent].
    Just pour a half-cup of boiling water onto a handful of fresh basil leaves. Let it sit for two to four hours and strain into a spray bottle. Add a half-cup of vodka (an efficient insect repellent) and shake before spraying on your skin.
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  3. 3
    Essential oils from basil leaves will inhibit mosquitoes and bugs effectively.
    Mix around 20-25 drops of basil essential oil in a pint of water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray areas around you for better protection.
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Garlic

Garlic is also known as the "mosquito plant". It has a very pungent odor that mosquitoes resent. Lots of other insects don't like the smell of garlic. When crushed or chopped, it produces "allicin" which causes, the main ingredient that keeps insects away.

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Garlicinsectrepellent.jpg
  1. 1
    Plant some garlic along the border of your vegetable garden.
    Place it near fruit trees, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, carrots, eggplants, potatoes and broccoli because it will nourish them.
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  2. 2
    Create your own garlic oil spray to control pests.
    Mix crushed garlic (three to four cloves) into two teaspoons of mineral oil and let it sit for 24 hours. Put two cups of water into a spray bottle; add the mixture plus a teaspoon of dish soap. This is to spray on PLANTS not your skin. It will repel aphids, white flies, and beetles that pest your plants. Avoid spraying during the day though because the sun can burn the leaves.
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Marigold

Marigold is an ornamental plant that has beautiful orange and yellow flowers. These are found in flowerbeds, especially during summer, along with Chrysanthemum. It naturally produces "terthienyl", a substance that creates pungent odor that turns off mosquitoes and gardeners.

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  1. 1
    It contains "thiopenes", a chemical in the roots that help protect vegetable plants from pests.
    It repels aphids, white fleas, tomato pests and cabbage maggots.
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    You may place these flowery plants in pots to decorate openings such as Windows, doors and walkways.
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  3. 3
    It is better to keep this plant off your table, because its bright yellow color could attract wasps.
    Marigoldplant.JPG
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Chrysanthemum

This plant comes from the family of daisy flowers. It has a natural insecticide called Pyrethrum. This substance is very powerful it doesn't exactly repel insects, but terminates them. Aphids, harlequin bugs, ticks, spider mites and leafhoppers do not like the smell of this flower.

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  1. 1
    Chrysanthemum is also known as a "companion plant" because it prevents other plants from being attacked by insects and pests.
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    When you plant chrysanthemum in your garden, intersperse them and place them in between plants that are susceptible to pests.
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  3. 3
    Create your own pest control by drying chrysanthemum flowers and grinding them into a powder.
    Sprinkle the powder as an insecticide to treat your plants.
    Chrysanthemum.jpg
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Rosemary

This is an herb that is not only used for cooking, but is also effective as an insect repellent. Its woody scent discourages mosquitoes, carrot flies and cabbage moths. It thrives in warm climates and can be pruned to different sizes and shapes. Because of the blue flowers it bears, is also an attractive plant.

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  1. 1
    Grow rosemary in pots so you can bring them inside the house during the winter.
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  2. 2
    Mix 20-25 drops of rosemary oil to any oil carrier that you like to create your own skin repellent.
    Rosemaryplant.jpg
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Ageratum

Also known as Flossflowers, this plant has a very offensive smell to mosquitoes. It secretes a substance called "coumarin", which is used in making commercial repellents too. It's a low-lying annual plant with beautiful little blue and violet flowers. It reaches 8-18 inches of height and you may plant this as a border for your garden beside other showy plants. Flossflowers don't necessarily need rich soil and they grow beautifully even without much sun. Crushed leaves of ageratum can drive away mosquitoes, but never rub it directly into your skin as it could cause irritation.

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Feverfew

This is a traditional herb that helps repel mosquitoes and other flying insects. It looks like a small daisy flowers, and is attractive in a garden, and looks beautiful when planted with lavender or citronella. You may place them in pots near sitting areas, pathways, porch, doorways and Windows. Feverfew is a medicinal plant used to treat migraines, nervous disorders and bloating. It also works as a laxative. Note: Bees don't like feverfew, so you might consider that when planting feverfew.

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Feverfewplant.jpg

Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal is an herb that is valuable for repelling mosquitoes, gnats, ticks and fleas. This is another ingredient used in making commercial creams and sprays. You can plant this in your yard. You may crush the leaves of pennyroyal and rub it directly onto your skin. It can also be rubbed onto your pets to repel ticks and fleas. Its stems can also be crushed and put into your clothing pockets, bags or hats to prevent moths.

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Other Insect Repellent Plants

  • Peppermint
  • Clove
  • Tea Tree
  • Scented Geraniums
  • Vetiver Grass
  • Lemon Grass
  • Neem Oil

Plant-based insect repellents are not only as effective as the commercial ones, they are also cheaper and it could serve you more ways than one if you grow these plants at home. However, just because it's natural doesn't mean it's always safe because some people are allergic to certain plants.

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Questions and Answers

How can we make lemongrass insect repellent for the skin?

We have lots of lemongrass in our area, and we read that it can be used as insect repellent. Is it effective?

Using lemongrass as a repellent is a very effective way to keep bugs away from you. To make a lemongrass repellent, you will need 4 teaspoons of whole cloves, 4 teaspoons of scented pelargonium citronella leaves, 10 lemongrass sticks, and 1 2/3 cups of sunflower oil.

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Follow these directions:

  • Chop the pelargonium and lemongrass, and combine them in a blender with the cloves. Blend until it becomes a pulp.
  • Put the pulp in a heatproof bowl, put the oil in the bowl on top of the pulp, and cover
  • Put the bowl over boiling water on low heat.
  • Leave for an hour, but make sure it doesn't boil dry.
  • Strain the oil and put it in a pump spray bottle.
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This mixture will keep bugs away from you, and it will also store for a up to a year.

Can you tell me the families of plants that work as a repellent to insects?

The plants that repel fleas and mosquitoes?

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I'm actually looking into Chrysanthemum; specifically the oil?

I know that it contains Pyre thrum and that is what they use in the creams to kill mites. So, I am wondering if it would be safe to use the organic oil to rub on your bodies to kill scabies.

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How can one prepare insect powder from plant leaves and flowers?

I need to prepare insect powder from lantana camera and euphorbia esula and use them to control the stalk-borer.

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Want to use dried leaves in my citronella candles since I do not have the oil?

I want to make candles from dried and crushed citronella plant leaves. Would this work since I do not have the oil? Thanks for your help.

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What is the effect of citronella leaf extract on eggplant pests?

What is the effect of citronella leaf extract on eggplant pests?

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How do I use dry vettiver for killing ants?

Hello! I was in India recently and bought dry vettiver for killing mosquitoes. After arriving home, I found out that I don't know how to use it. Do I have to burn it, or just leave it alone in an open container? Can I use it for killing ants? Thank you very much for offering help!

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Hi Sir, I just want to know how to get the extract of Catnip, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Basil and Peppermint with the specific amount of water and boiling point?

What is the amount of water and boiling point to get extract for us to insure that we extract the right amount from the leaves. I have tried: Still searching. I think it was caused by: Nothing

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If you use lemongrass as insect repellent, can it be a big help for at least lessen the insects in the community?

It is a question for the science investigatory problem, and we need to study the question and the question above is one of the questions, thank you.

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Categories : Gardening

Recent edits by: Angeline, Luciane., webbbugg

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