Gardening can lose much of its appeal when pesky mosquitoes hover nearby. Before resorting to commercial bug repellents, try incorporating one of these plants into the landscape. Not only are they attractive to look at, but they may also just help to cut down on the number of uninvited guests in the garden.
Why And How To Get Rid of Mosquitoes?
There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes found throughout the world. The blood-sucking female is the deadliest disease-carrier in the world, killing millions yearly. To the majority of people, mosquitoes are, at most, annoying. But, unfortunately, some people are highly allergic to these potentially dangerous insects as they spread such deadly diseases as yellow fever, malaria and West Nile Virus.
The species of mosquito chiefly responsible for spreading yellow fever is Aedes Aegypti, but other species are also known to transmit this virus. Once a mosquito has bitten an infected human or animal, its bite remains infectious for life. Yellow fever attacks the liver, kidneys and digestive tract, producing intense fever and jaundice. Vomiting and constipation are other common symptoms. Within a few days, as many as 90% of attacked victims die. Actions to prevent yellow fever include vaccination, protective clothing and the use of insect repellent. No effective cure is known.
Malaria is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions. It is caused by protozoan parasites, such as the Anopheles mosquito and is a great public health concern. Anemia can result from contracting malaria. Other general symptoms include chills, fever and nausea. Severe cases of malaria can result in coma and even death. Vaccines are currently under development but, thus far, no vaccine is available that provides adequate levels of protection. Preventive drugs can be taken to reduce the risk of the infection of malaria. Infected patients can be treated with such drugs as quinine, but the Anopheles mosquito is resistant to many of these drugs.
West Nile Virus
The mosquito-borne infection, West Nile Virus, was first identified in the U.S. in 1999, according to a statement in the New York State Department of Health, Health News. General symptoms include headache, fever, rash and swollen lymph glands. Sometimes these symptoms are so mild they go unnoticed. West Nile virus can develop into encephalitis or meningitis. At this advanced stage, symptoms include muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis. Severe symptoms can include coma and death. Mosquito bite prevention is the best way to reduce the infection of the West Nile Virus.
How To Get Rid of Mosquitoes In Your Yard – Eliminating The Carrier
- Only the adult mosquito is non-aquatic. Mosquito eggs, larvae and pupae need water. By eliminating all sources of still water near your house, you can significantly reduce the number of young mosquitoes that develop into disease-carrying adults. Filling ponds with goldfish will be helpful as goldfish feed on mosquito larvae.
- Repair or remove receptacles that harbor stagnant water, such as broken gutters and rain barrels. Cover permanent receptacles that hold water, such as wells and cisterns. Rain barrels can be covered with a fine screen that will allow rainwater in but keep mosquitoes out. Swimming pools should be cleaned and chlorinated regularly.
- Holes of large tree trunks are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Frequently remove water that collects in such places. Another option would be to coat the surface of the water with vegetable oil to kill any developing larvae.
- If you have a birdbath, remember to change the water regularly. Likewise, empty and rinse the saucers from potted plants after rain or watering as adult mosquitoes may lay eggs in them.
- Plant sassafras and sweet basil near windows and doors to help keep mosquitoes away. Eucalyptus trees can help soak up excess water and repel mosquitoes with their scent.
- Set up floodlights away from living spaces and use yellow bulbs instead of white to attract fewer insects. Oil lamps and citronella candles are good for repelling pesky insects.
- Use a natural repellent to spray plants around living areas. Pennyroyal leaves steeped in hot water make a good insect repellent spray. Garlic simmered in cooking oil can be be cooled and sprayed on bushes as well.
Keeping mosquitoes at bay while you garden is certainly a challenge. This challenge should be considered as part of the gardening routine. Mosquitoes are annoying and potentially dangerous. Many times, one does not realize that he (or she) is allergic to a mosquito’s bite until he (or she) is actually bitten. Being afflicted with yellow fever, malaria or West Nile Virus can affect you for life. Take up the challenge and irradicate deadly blood-suckers and their eggs from surrounding your home and garden.
Why These Plants Repel Mosquitoes
Certain plants contain compounds that are highly repugnant to mosquitoes. Usually, the compound is related to the scent produced by the plant when its oils are released into the air. This means that simply planting may not often be enough for total effectiveness. While the plants will release their scent into the air, taking other measures to release the compounds into the air can make the plants even more effective.
Crushing the leaves of the plant and rubbing them directly on skin or clothing is one option, however, always check to make sure that the plant will not cause an allergic reaction. Try rubbing the plant on a small patch of skin before applying it more widely. Another effective measure can come from drying the leaves and placing the dried bunches outside. Another option is infusing the crushed leaves into a liquid and making a homemade bug repellent.
Even though the presence of these herbs isn’t always enough to repel mosquitoes, it’s still a wise idea to plant these natural repellents around the yard- especially around areas like a back patio or deck that is often frequented. Having the plants outside will encourage their use.
If the climate is such that keeping these plants outdoors isn’t an option, potting indoors and using the leaves as a natural deterrent can also be effective.
Plants That Repel Mosquitoes
The most popular plant for repelling mosquitoes as citronella grass. This is the plant from which citronella oil, used in various insect repellents and candles, is derived. The grass releases a type of camphorous oil that mosquitoes can’t stand. While citronella grass is effective at repelling mosquitoes, it’s not always a plausible choice. Citronella grass is a tropical plant, making it difficult to grow in cooler climates. It can also grow to heights of 6 feet. However, if kept at bay with regular mowing (which will also help to circulate the oils into the atmosphere) it can be a good option.
The most effective use of citronella grass comes from applying the liquid from the crushed leaves directly to the skin. The process should be repeated every 1-2 hours for maximum effectiveness. Another plant that exudes a scent similar to citronella is horsemint. This plant grows wild in much of the Eastern United States and has additional health properties due to the high levels of thymol found in its oil.
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One of the most highly effective treatments against mosquitoes can be found from the catnip herb. The oil from the leaves of this plant commonly grown because of its effect on cats can also help ward off mosquitoes. As with citronella grass, the most effective treatment comes from crushing the leaves and placing the liquid directly onto the skin. Catnip is also highly effective when crushed leaves are infused into oil.
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Rosemary is another herb that can be effective at deterring mosquitoes. Most commonly recognized as a culinary herb, rosemary produces a camphor-like oil that can repel mosquitoes. Unfortunately, rosemary is a tropical plant and often doesn’t fare well in cooler climates, but it can be cultivated indoors. Rosemary oil can be used to make a natural repellent by mixing 4 drops of oil with 1/4 cup of olive oil. A few other herbs that may be helpful in the treatment of mosquitoes include lavender, lemon balm or lemongrass, and peppermint.
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Marigolds are hardy plants with vibrant colors that add brilliance to any garden. Not only do they serve as a deterrent to mosquitoes, but they are also valuable for their use in keeping aphids away and are often placed near rose bushes for that reason. Another plant known as Ageratum contains coumarin, a scent that drives mosquitoes away. Ageratum is a low-growing plant and works great as an edging plant around the borders of gardens or patios.
Several species of plants have been termed “mosquito plants”. A genetically engineered member of the geranium family has earned this title. The plant combines the hardy qualities of the geranium plant with the properties of citronella. The result is a plant that will survive harsher climates and produces a sweet, lemony scent that may drive mosquitoes away. Opinions as to the effectiveness of this plant are mixed.