6 Plants That Repel Mosquitos

How to Design Your Garden and Landscaping to Get Rid of Pests

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Lemon balm in the garden
Lemon balm in the garden
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Here in South Texas, mosquitos are just a fact of life. They are bad for people; they’re bad for pet dogs and cats, and they’re just pests. Dennis Prager once said when he gets to heaven he’s going to ask God, “Why?” Good point. But, while we have to live with them, we will talk about 6 plants that do a good job of repelling mosquitos whether you are having a barbeque or just enjoying your backyard deck. For best results, stick with an organic feeding program.

  • Lemon balm. As you can see in the picture above, this is a fine-looking plant. This is a member of the mint family that gets its distinct scent from citronellal. This is an oil that has some of the same properties as citronella, one of which is the ability to repel mosquitoes. It’s an easy species to grow. Lemon balm is a perennial (more bang for your buck) that, like mint, can become invasive and take over your whole flower bed or vegetable garden. It likes full sun to part shade and adequate water. The leaves can be used as a tea.
  • Citronella grass. The active ingredient here is the essential oil that’s used to make insect-repellent candles. Be sure you’re planting the tall spiky grass Cymbopogon nardus, and not “citronella plant” (Pelargonium citrosum), which is a kind of geranium that smells similar but doesn’t offer the same mosquito-repelling oils. It likes partial sun and moist, loamy dirt, so water it every day, especially if you’re growing it as a container species. It’s a perennial in tropical climates but it still can be grown as an annual in colder places.


  • Basil. The anecdotal evidence says it helps control mosquitoes but the studies are on-going. If you like pesto but veer away from grocery store prices, keep several basil plants in your garden and prune them regularly to keep them from going to seed. Also, why not whip up some Creamy Parmesan Basil Chicken? Basil thrives in full sun and moist soil.
  • Catnip. The active ingredient here is nepetalactone, the essential oil that gives catnip its smell. It’s also a member of the mint family and grows best in full sun and well-drained soil, but will tolerate partial sun and almost any type of soil if that’s what you are working with.


  • Lavender. Who doesn’t love lavender? Anecdotal evidence and tests on lavender essential oil indicate that mosquitoes shun this plant. Some people dry the flowers and make or buy lavender and cedar sachets to ward off mosquitos and moths. Grow it in full sun and drier soil. You only need to water it once or twice weekly in the growing season. It is a perennial species, so expect it to come back yearly.
  • Peppermint. Yet another member of the wonderful mint family. It’s the essential oil that works the mosquito magic. It is related to the lemon balm and has essentially the same care requirements. It likes lots of sun and water. It does well in a pot; in your flower bed, it will want to take over. I like it in tea and add it to my freshly-ground coffee. What a way to start the day!

So there you have it; 6 plants that repel mosquitos, look good, and serve other purposes. They won’t eliminate these outdoor pests completely but you can certainly cut down on those toxic insecticides.

Further Reading


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Top 10 Ways to Go Green

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Have a green home and lifestyle
Have a green home and lifestyle

 

Going green is as trendy as ever but did you know that it will save you money as well? You can do more than recycle; you can make small changes in all areas of your home and life that really add up. Here are the top 10 ways to go green on our list.

  1. Go Organic in your garden and lawn. First of all, stop it with all the pesticides. Monsanto’s Roundup is in trial right now for allegedly causing cancer. The active ingredient glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” according to the World Health Organization. Stop it with the “weed and feed” products as well. Sure, the herbicide ingredient will kill some weeds but they can also kill shrubs and trees if applied in the drip zone. Just broadcast organic fertilizer and agricultural dried molasses in the spring and fall. This will encourage deep root growth of your lawn grass which means less watering, saving money. It is also recommended to apply beneficial nematodes to eliminate fleas in the larval stage.
  2. Green Your Kitchen. Back off with the chemical cleaning products. Instead, use non-toxic or plant-based cleaning products. They perform just as well as your chemicals but they are safer for your family, better for the environment, and save money. For example, baking soda is non-toxic and can be combined with a bit of water to clean tubs, sinks and other surfaces. Vinegar is great for cleaning glass. Got bugs? Use orange oil spray instead of pesticides.
  3. Improve Your Energy Efficiency. Anything you can do to lower your electricity bill is a good thing. Today’s homes are built with tighter exteriors than older homes so strive for that. Spring for an energy audit to identify problems if you want; otherwise just do common sense things like adding insulation and caulking windows. This will really save you money when utility costs spike.
  4. Go Green in the Bathroom. Wasting water is not only bad for the environment but is also costly. Switch to low flow toilets. Next eliminate the drips; a single dripping water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. Ka-ching! And, there is no point in leaving the water running while you brush your teeth. On, off, on, off.
  5. Make Some Energy Tweaks Around the House. One of the easiest things to do is to contact the Direct Marketing Association to take yourself off many companies’ mass marketing mailing lists for up to five years. Unplugging things when not in use stops “phantom loads” with most appliances that use power such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, chargers, computers, and kitchen appliances.
  6. How to Save When Shopping. Most people don’t realize how they can save and go green when out and about. First, don’t load up on bottled water for drinking when you are out doing your chores. Instead, carry a reusable water bottle. You will save money and create less scrap plastic. For the grocery store take your own reusable bags. When the industry went from paper to plastic they didn’t do the environment any favors. Also consider buying things in bulk. This saves on both packaging and money.
  7. Focus on an Environmentally-Friendly Workplace. Being green isn’t only possible at home; the workplace is important as well. Encourage workers to have a plant or two in their space; they act as natural filters to improve indoor air quality. If your company ships products, use environmentally-friendly packaging materials and reuse boxes when possible. Set your office printers to print double-sided. This is an simple way to reduce paper consumption by up to half.
  8. Traveling the Green Way. If you are only going a short distance, consider walking or riding a bike. If you can run to work and shower there, even better. Compared to driving a car, this will save money and improve your health. Use public transportation or carpool when possible. Not only will you have a greener commute but you can catch up on some reading.
  9. Food can be Green too. We all have to eat so why not do it the green way? Buying locally grown food is a good start. Did you know that food generally travels between 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farm to your kitchen? Moving food that distance results in high energy consumption and less local agricultural investment. If you took our advice on going organic in tip #1 above, grow your own veggies, fruit, and herbs.
  10. Consider Passive Solar ConceptsPassive solar has been getting quite a bit of press lately but many people don’t really understand it. Basically it means considering the sun’s energy when building or modifying your home. With new home construction, it is important to position the structure so that you get the morning and afternoon sun where it benefits you the most. Thermal mass is also an important concept. In colder climates materials such as concrete and brick hold heat well and can be used in living areas to reduce heating costs. Solar collectors, both passive and active can be incorporated into a home’s design. Solar water heaters can vastly lower your energy bills and your impact on the environment.

These tips on ways to go green can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in global warming or climate change; who doesn’t enjoy extra cash?


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DIY Home Flea Control Methods

Affordable and Natural Pest Control Solutions

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
A hideous flea under magnification
A hideous flea under magnification
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This article was updated on 02/17/21.

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Just one glance at that monster insect pest above is enough to make you want to eradicate them because of the sheer ugliness, but wait, it gets worse. Your pet or family members may develop flea allergy dermatitis, skin infections, and anemia from contact. Also, if your dog or cat ingests a flea (which is very likely) he may become infected with tapeworms.

According to the American Kennel Club, “Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite. Along with roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm, this flat, segmented worm is found in dogs, cats, humans, and many other species around the world. The most common tapeworm species is Dipylidium Caninum. The medical term for a tapeworm infestation is Cestodiasis.”

“First, the dog will ingest a host that is harboring tapeworm eggs, most often an adult flea. There are a few ways a dog might ingest a flea, such as self-grooming, or grooming a canine or feline housemate. Other animals that are potential transmitters of eggs include birds, rabbits, or rodents, which even a well-fed dog might scavenge for.”1

Why are Fleas so Hard to Get Rid Of?

Why are they such effective parasites? First, their bodies are flattened sideways, allowing them to easily navigate through your living room carpet, yard, dog park, or your pet’s fur no matter how dense it may be.

Secondly, those claws you see in the image above allow them to cling to Fido’s skin to resist all that scratching and chewing. And those back legs? They allow the pests to jump 50 times their body length! They would easily dominate in the Insect Olympics. Basically, your pets don’t stand a chance.

How Can You Practice Organic Flea Control?

In a previous post we explained how to eliminate flea larvae in outside the home by applying beneficial nematodes. This is a preventative measure since the larvae can never reach adulthood. Most of these flea controls are effective on other household pests, particularly orange oil.

But what if you already have them in your home? You need DIY home flea and pest control methods that don’t rely on poisons and pesticides. Filling your home with toxins to get rid of pests is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Following are some organic solutions.

  • Homemade Flea Spray. This is a very economical method that is non-toxic to children and pets. All you need is a spray bottle and a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Combine 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of witch hazel.
  • Dawn Dish Soap. Any dish soap will work but Dawn is preferable. There’s a reason that its used on animals following oil spills. Simply fill small bowls with warm water and soap and place them in affected areas. Night time is most effective because fleas are nocturnal insects.
  • Orange Oil Spray. This is one of my favorites for all types of pest control. It won’t harm humans or pets but it is deadly for insects including fleas, spiders, ants and more. It can be purchased at Amazon.com.
  • Diatomaceous Earth. Again, look for this at the nursery. It is the microscopic remains of fossilized algae, in a fine powder form. Sprinkle the dust thinly in affected areas wearing a dust mask to avoid throat irritation. Wait two days and then vacuum thoroughly. Diatomaceous earth kills fleas by dehydrating their bodies.
  • Rosemary as a Preventative Measure. While rosemary will not kill fleas, it will certainly keep them away. They don’t like it! There are two good methods. Firstly, let it dry and then grind it up finely. Sprinkle it anywhere you are experiencing flea activity. The second way is to use an herbal rinse to keep fleas off of your pet and outdoors where they belong. Place 1/2 cup fresh rosemary in a quart of boiling water and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove the liquid from the heat and strain it into a bowl. After it cools, apply it to your pet’s coat and let it dry before allowing your pet to go outside. Using both these methods in conjunction is an attack on two fronts. Hint: grown your own rosemary in your herb or veggie garden; this will ensure you have a steady supply of organic herbs.

Using a combination of these methods is more effective than a single one so don’t be afraid to experiment to determine what works for you. Do you know of any other effective home flea control methods? Tell our readers about it in the comment section below. We’re all in this together!

Further Reading

References

  1. American Kennel Club, Tapeworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/tapeworms-in-dogs-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention/


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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Beneficial Nematodes for Organic Flea Control


Beneficial nematodes for pest control; photo by Kelly Smith
Beneficial nematodes for pest control; photo by Kelly Smith

Do you have pets? Do you have a yard? Do you try to stay organic? If you answered yes, you need to know about beneficial nematodes because they’ve got your back. They will solve your flea and tick problem without having to resort to toxic pesticides.

Toxic pesticides kill all the beneficial critters like ladybugs and earthworms. Products like Roundup and Weed & Feed do more damage than good. If you lose your earthworms you lose your soil aeration. Lose your ladybugs and praying mantis and you’ll have to buy more toxic chemicals to control pests.

What are Beneficial Nematodes and How do They Work?

In a nutshell, they are non-segmented, microscopic roundworms. You might not have heard of them but they occur naturally all over the world. Well, perhaps not Antarctica.

They are predators of tick and flea larvae in the soil. These may be your primary concerns but they also control sod webworms, cutworms, maggots, various types of ants and many more. They work by first finding a suitable host.

Highly-magnified nematodes
Highly-magnified nematodes

Next they enter through an appropriate body opening or through the body wall. Once they have taken up residence they produce a bacteria and inject it int the host’s blood, which kills the host. Finally the search for the next host begins.

How are they Applied to Your Lawn?

Since the nematodes arrive at your home in a seemingly powder form, they can easily be applied in a variety of ways. Small areas can be applied with a watering can.  Large lawns are candidates for hose-end sprayers like the one I used this morning. It’s a good deal since it comes with  loaded with fertilizer.

You won’t likely find nematodes at your local store but they are easy to find on-line. Every spring I order mine from Arbico Organics. High-quality products and quick delivery. For my front and back yard I order the 10 million size (rated for 3,200 square feet). A bit of overkill perhaps, but after the flood from Hurricane Harvey who knows what’s lurking below the soil?

If you have friends that might be interested in organic pest control using beneficial nematodes, share this article with them. Leave a comment below!

 


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