In the spring and summer, we all tend to spend more time outside. You're probably yearning to spruce up your deck or patio and dreaming of soaking up the sun. And while enjoying the season outdoors should be relaxing and enjoyable, not much will put a damper on your party faster than unwanted pests — especially annoying, biting mosquitoes.
You may have heard there are certain types of plants you can add to your outdoor space to help repel mosquitoes. But before you head to your local garden center, find out what plants repel mosquitoes, or at least claim to — and if they actually work.
What Smell Do Mosquitoes Hate?
There are several plants that give off a smell that mosquitoes aren't attracted to. And, fortunately, many make beautiful additions to your outdoor space.
Some of the most commonly recommended plants to help repel mosquitoes include:
- Lavender – Do lavender plants really repel mosquitoes? While the scent of the oil from this pretty purple plant is calming and relaxing to humans, mosquitoes do not enjoy it, according to studies by the National Library of Medicine.
- Catnip – Cats love catnip, but mosquitoes don't. This plant belongs to the mint family and contains a chemical called "nepetalactone" that attracts cats. However, it can reportedly send mosquitoes heading for the hills, according to Iowa State University researchers.
- Citronella – This plant is the source of the citrusy scent in those popular bug-repelling outdoor candles. You may have one of these on your deck right now. An oil in the leaves of this grassy-looking plant is responsible for the scent that helps keep bugs at bay. According to the Malaria Journal, when the citronella is formulated correctly, it works as well as DEET to repel mosquitoes.
- Scented geraniums – This particular type of geranium produces a strong scent that is said to repel mosquitoes. However, the plant leaves must be crushed in order extract the oils to repel mosquitoes. There are several varieties, including lemon, lime, orange and peppermint.
What Potted Plants Repel Mosquitoes?
For those who don't have time, or the room, to start a garden, there are some potted plants that are said to be useful in repelling mosquitoes. Peppermint is one of them.
As its name implies, peppermint belongs to the mint family. This is a plant that does well in containers, and according to the Malaria Journal, its oil from its leaves produce a strong scent that mosquitoes don't like. Plus, you can pick the leaves and use them in tea, cocktails or as a garnish for dishes.
Do These Mosquito Repellents Work?
So there are plenty of plants that reportedly may help keep mosquitoes out of your outdoor space, but do they actually work? Well, the answer is yes and no.
When it comes to using plants as mosquito repellents, there's an important distinction to make. According to Texas A&M University, in some cases it's not the plants themselves that repel insects. Rather, it's the oil in their leaves that does the trick, either by crushing or burning the leaves.
So unless you want to spend days crushing plant leaves, head to the store and grab some insect repellent that contains DEET. That's the most effective way to keep bugs like mosquitoes off your skin while you're outside.
You should also make sure your outdoor space is free of potential breeding spots for mosquitoes. Clear any standing water in bird baths, planters or other containers on your property.
What Are Other Ways to Help Reduce Mosquitoes?
There is no guarantee that natural mosquito repellent plants will help reduce mosquito populations around your home. To further help mosquito control efforts, consider the following:
- Clean any pools of standing water in or around your yard.
- Remove leftover or unused cans, pipes and tires from your property.
- Provide moving air to mosquito habitats when possible.
- Wear long sleeves and pants when going outdoors at night.
A Better Solution to Keep Mosquitoes Away
You can do things to help prevent mosquito bites, but these tricks won't actually get rid of your mosquito problem. And you can take care of standing water on your property, but you can't control what your neighbors do.
In addition to standing water, mosquitoes also like to lie and wait in wooded areas because of the low wind, so if your property has a lot of trees, you're at a higher risk for a problem this summer.
For serious mosquito control, contact Terminix®. A mosquito control professional will inspect your property and develop a treatment plan to help reduce and control the mosquito population in your yard so you can enjoy the outdoors all season long.