As spring rolls in, those pesky mosquitoes love to start breeding and making their home in our beautiful yards. They will target yards where there is standing water (untreated pools, creeks, poor drainage, old tires/buckets filled with water, etc). The mosquitoes will hide under the pine straw where it is moist, as well as under the leaves of trees or near their roots.
The mosquitoes tend to move in when the temperatures go above 50F, and start breeding. Their larvae start to hatch at these temperatures too. Once in place, mosquitoes can be difficult to get rid of. They feed on human blood (being attracted to the CO2 from our breath), and leave nasty itch bites behind. In some areas, mosquitoes carry dangerous viruses such as Zika and West Nile Virus. Hence the desire to get rid of these pests.
A common response by home owners is to spray their yard with an insecticide. I will be honest and I have gone this route before. Ultimately, I found it to be ineffective as the mosquito’s tend to come back after the next rain fall. More importantly, the insecticides will also harm the more useful insects.
BEE’s!!!! Don’t kill the bee’s. Please! We need the bee’s to pollenate for humans to survive.
Note - if you do decide you don’t care much about the bee’s and want to spray insecticide anyway, then do so on a calm day, late in the evening, when the bee’s have returned to their hives. Only spray the undersides of leaves, and under any mulch, but don’t spray the flowers where the bee’s collect their nectar and can absorb the insecticide!
Also, there are a number of useful insects and pests that would be killed by the insecticide which actually help you get rid of mosquitoes by feeding on them. This includes spiders (don’t get rid of webs if you have a mosquito problem), dragonflies (these are beautiful and eat mosquitoes and their larvae, and lizards.
A Natural Mosquito Repellent
A natural solution, and one that is long term, is to strategically landscape your garden to discourage mosquitoes from invading.
Mosquitoes tend to hate strong scented plants (especially herbs). Meanwhile, these plants will look lovely in your garden, and fill your yard with really pretty scents that we love. Most of them will also attract bee’s and butterflies and hummingbirds. So it’s really a win win all round.
You can also take many of the leaves from these plants and rub them on your skin as a natural oil to repel mosquitoes from your body.
Lavender is a great repellant to mosquitos and many other invaders (like rabbits, and other insects). The essential oils that the lavender plant gives off messes with their sense of smell, and they will move on. The plant grows gorgeous purple flowers, and is very low maintenance.
Lavender is available on Amazon, or you can find it at your local nursery. Be sure to find one that is ideal for your climate.
Rosemary is another great mosquito repellent, which like lavender, will emit a beautiful scent that insects and mosquito’s despise. Rosemary is a woody plant, which is also low maintenance and doesn’t require a lot of water. Once established, it will grow back year after year. You can use rosemary in your cooking as a herb. You can also shape and prune the rosemary into shapes in your garden to make a great border or decoration. I recently planted the Bonnie Plants rosemary plant which is available from Amazon and Lowes.
Marigolds are a pretty yellow/red/orange flower that adds some beautiful color in your garden. It is an annual, so it will die out every year when the frost moves in. But it is very easy to grow every year. Marigolds will emit a smell that repel mosquitos. In fact, marigolds have significance in hinduism due to its protective power as it repels many insects and pests.
You can buy the Marigold seeds from amazon (which are super easy to grow), or spend a bit more and buy them ready to plant from your nearest nursery.
4. Lemon Grass
Notice how many mosquito repellents you apply to your skin has a citrus smell. Many of these lotions are made from the lemongrass plant. Citronella Plants are one of the best plants for repelling pests like mosquito’s. In warm sunny climates, these can be planted in the ground. However it also does not stand up to the frost.
Lemongrass can be rooted using a fresh stalk of lemongrass from your nearest grocer, and letting it root in a glass of water. Alternatively, you can plant lemongrass ready to go from a local nursery or amazon.
5. Bee Balm
Bee Balm (also known as horsemint) is a great mosquito repelling plant. It belongs to the mint family, and will bring all sorts of great insects to your yard such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. All the while repelling annoying insects like mosquitos. Bee balm will grow fairly tall, so ideally placed towards the back of your garden. As it is part of the mint family, it can become invasive if not properly controlled over time.
Bee Balm seeds are available from Amazon, or alternatively buy some ready to plant from your local nursery.
Basil is a brilliant plant to grow on your patio where you entertain. Not only is it a delicious herb used in so many great recipes, basil is known to have medicinal properties. Basil is toxic to the mosquito larvae, so growing basil near areas with standing water to deter mosquitos from laying their eggs. Also growing basil near your grilling area will keep mosquitos at bay while you cook outdoors.
You can buy a trio of basil, chives, and sage (all great repellants) from amazon, or even visit your nearest sprouts or whole foods and buy a pot of fresh basil from there!