|Friday Five: Grow Your Own Insect Repellents|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Friday, 24 February 2012|
Let’s set the record straight. Despite our wishful thinking, there is no such thing as a plant that repels mosquitoes. What I mean by this is that if you plant the so-called “mosquito plant”, marketed as citrosa or as Pelargonium 'Van Leenii', next to the patio it’s not going to do a single thing to repel pesky insects. Nothing. Nada. Neither will the citronella plant, which by the way is a 6-foot tall tropical grass. The next best thing however, are plants whose leaves contain essential oils that when crushed and either applied to the skin or made into homemade concoctions that actually do repel mosquitoes and certain other pesky insects.
But before you rush out to buy any or all of these plants, a few words of caution are advisable. First of all, using essential oils to ward off insects requires frequent applications--as often as every 15 minutes in some cases. In addition, while the homemade versions are fine for dining out on the patio or working around the yard, I wouldn’t recommend them for trekking through swampland or kayaking through mangrove channels. There are commercially available natural insect repellents that work fairly well so you might want to stick with one of those products. And now, the list you’ve been waiting for:
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is non-irritating to skin, has a nice lemony smell, and is effective. It’s my top pick.
Catnip is not my favorite scented plant but it works extremely well as an insect repellent, so more power to it!
Rosemary. Either you like the fragrance or you don’t. May be slightly irritating to skin.
Most people enjoy the scent of lavender and the essential oil in lavender flowers and leaves does work as an insect repellent, although perhaps not as well as the other herbs on the list.
Peppermint is another herb with a strong fragrance and may be irritating to the skin.
Learn how to make your own insect repellents.
Photo source: www.fredericksburgherbfarm.com