Throughout history, man has been plagued by insects. And, man has fought back. But, not with DEET or OFF, but inventive uses of plants. Native Americans would pound the roots of Golden Seal, mix it with Bear fat and smear on their bodies to keep mosquitoes and black flies at bay. Or, during the Middle Ages, herbs were an integral part of keeping a home both fragrant (well, as fragrant as you could back then) as well as fighting invasive vermin. These plants are still effective, and a natural means of keeping modern man comfortable from the bites and annoyances of insects, especially in the summer months.
Feverfew works well to repel mosquitoes and other flying biting insects. It is best planted outside along paths and close to windows and doorways and around patios. It is especially effective when planted with citronella geraniums, lemon grass and lavender.
Pennyroyal, also known as Fleabane, works to repel ticks and fleas, as well as mosquitoes and gnats. Crushed pennyroyal leaves can be rubbed onto the skin as an effective insect repellent. Additionally, you can also rub the leaves on dogs to help repel fleas and ticks. Pennyroyal is often used in commercial natural insect repellent creams and sprays. Pennyroyal is great to plant in the garden, but it is best utilized as a topical insect repellent applied to the skin.
Mints, including Catnip and any member of the Mentha family, is known to deter mice and ants if planted around the foundation of the home. It is recommended that you identify the ‘trouble spots’ where the pests are entering the home, and plant 3 – 7 plants at each entry point. Shallow bowls of water filled with mint leaves placed in the pantry is also known to keep mice away.
Lemongrass is a great mosquito repellent. Planted in large containers on a deck, patio or by the pool it does deter most flying pests. In the landscape, it makes a lovely grass with the same repelling qualities. It is especially effective when planted in combination with Feverfew and Lavender.
Lavender is most useful for repelling mosquitoes and gnats when planted in the garden; it can also be planted in pots and placed by doorways and windows. As with feverfew and lemongrass, lavender is best planted in the garden around seated and eating areas and also around windows and doors. You can cut and dry lavender and place on windowsills to stop mosquitoes entering the house. Put dried lavender in closets to repel moths and keep clothes smelling fresh.
Citronella Geranium has a mixed reputation and it is hard to say whether or not this LOVELY and EASY TO GROW geranium is actually effective at warding off mosquitoes. It has the citronella scent, which leads one to believe that it has the active ingredient used in so many commercial products. However, there are those who say that it is as far as it goes, fragrance. In our own ‘tests’ we think that when the leaves are crushed and rubbed onto the skin, there is nothing better nor more fragrant at fighting those buzzing nuisances!
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