As the outdoor season approaches, many homeowners and outdoor enthusiasts look for ways to control mosquitos.
But many commercial insect repellents contain from 5% to 25% DEET. There are concerns about the potential toxic effects of DEET, especially when used by children. Children who absorb high amounts of DEET through insect repellents have developed seizures, slurred speech, hypotension and bradycardia. There are new DEET-free mosquito repellents on the market today which offer some relief to those venturing outdoors in mosquito season. But there are also certain plants which are easy to grow and will have some effect in repelling mosquitoes from areas of your home and garden.
Citronella or also known as lemon grass is one of the most popular botanical ingredients in mosquito repellents. Products like lemon grass candles also work in detering mosquitos, but a living plant is the most effective, for it is so aromatic that it makes it difficult for the mosquitos to smell and notice you. Citronella is a very easy growing grass that do in the ground as well as containers.
Also known as Beebalm, Horsemint is an adaptable perennial plant which repels mosquitoes much the same as citronella. It gives off a strong incense-like odor which confuses mosquitoes by masking the smell of its usual hosts. Horsemint leaves can be dried and used to make herbal tea. Its flowers will also attract bees and butterflies to your garden.
Catnip is a natural mosquito repellent. In August 2010, entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical found in most commercial insect repellents. According to Iowa State researcher Chris Peterson, the reason for its effectiveness is still unknown. “It might simply be acting as an irritant or they don’t like the smell. But nobody really knows why insect repellents work.”
So now that summer is here and the mosquitos will be everywhere, consider using the essential oils from these plants on your skin to deter them, or better yet, plant them in your garden!
Plant and Prosper!