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  • Looking for plants that repel mosquitoes and gnats

    Noob here.

    I live in zone 5. I am looking for plants that repel mosquitoes and gnats. I have a problem with both. The gnats are swarming lately, and the mosquitoes are always bad.

    So far, I have found catnip and garlic that reputedly repel skeeters.

    What kinds of garlic are especially potent and hardy and good for zone 5? I love garlic anyway, so the more the better.

    Spraying, chemicals, etc. are out of the question. Financially it's impossible. I have 10 acres although I am primarily concerned with the area around the house and the garden plots.

    I don't know anything about marigolds.

    Citronella grass is supposed to be effective at keeping the bugs away, but I can't find a supplier or even any helpful information about it. What zones will it grow in, etc.?


  • #2
    What about mint?


    • #3
      I've never had a plant that supposedly repelled an insect work just by growing. I have found that the lemon basil helps repel mosquitoes on me, but it's not as effective as something with DEET.

      A more productive idea might be to look for plants or landscape features that might attract the predators of mosquitoes and gnats and grow well in your environment.


      • #4
        Catnip doesn't really repel them. I had a few plants come up one year by virtue of giving my cat a treat... it has since become an incredible pest. It grows where even the other noxious weeds hesitate. It is in my lawn, side gardens, patio cracks... had to hack it back with a weedwhacker to locate the BBQ (located on the edge of the patio... this was the stuff that came up in the cracks of the pavers!)

        It is also around a glorified puddle I used to have fish in. The fish definitely kept the mosquito population down. 5 years with fish I got maybe 1 or 2 bites a year... this is the 1st year without and I have 30 easy just from the knees down!

        Catnip, pineapple mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, peppermint are all around or near the pond. The cat daily rolls in her patch (she's an unrivaled nip fiend)... still mosquitoes.

        The pond I had held 6 comets, the runt being about 8 inches, and they were breeding too successfully. Rosy reds (yep... feeder fish!) are also cold weather, live about 2 years, with stacked rocks in the pond they reproduce well... both comets and rosy reds devoured the mosquito larvae like mad.

        I know a water feature with fish may not be an option... but just wanted to let you know I haven't had any success with mints repelling skeeters.

        Other thing... the pond I am currently draining (aside from fish, this is my only other option to control the skeeter-insanity)... discoveries I made were that the larvae will survive a hefty dose of bleach. They even survived liquid dish soap (tested in a 20g bucket.. about 2 Tablespoons of Palmolive). The bubbles dissipated... the larvae were still alive for several more days. (I dumped it when some hit the 3rd instar stage.)


        • #5
          Idaho Cowboy:

          "Citronella Grass" is an alternative common name for something more commonly known as "Lemon Grass". It is the primary source of Citronella, which comes from a number of plants including one from the Canary Islands called "Citronella".

          It s a native of tropical Asia and is quite tender to cold.

          And it doesn't repel mosquitoes unless you extract the oil and rub it on your skin. This does work but it does not last as long as DEET (maybe 15 minutes?). Non-toxic though; it doesn't do brain damage like DEET does as it absorbs right into your body.

          The only plant I know that is rich in citrol and/or geraniol that is actually cold hardy, is Lemon Balm. Lemon Thyme has a bit too.


          • #6
            You won't be able to repel mosquitoes from an area that size. I would deal with any standing water issues, even temporary pools after rain, the skeeters only need about three days to reproduce. Also build some bat houses, trying to attract little brown bats. Be patient, it sometimes takes a couple years before bats end up roosting. Their feeding will lower mosquito numbers.


            • #7
              Oooo... good idea Bee! and free guano to boot!


              • #8
                And a great show at dusk, I love to watch them, and if I am lucky with timing I can catch them dropping out of my neighbor's barn. I always considered my spring to truly start when they come out of hibernation.


                • #9
                  In addition to being bat-friendly, we've found it helpful to put some bluebird houses, with holes sized for mountain bluebirds and something inside to be sure birds can reach the holes, mounted on regular T-posts (metal fence posts).

                  We haven't had bluebirds in them but tree swallows love them and they and their children clean a terrific amount of gnats and mosquitos from the air. It's important to have the houses up early -- here we have them cleaned an up in autumn -- as the TRES show up here (edge of the Bighorns in Wyoming) while the houses are still sticking up out of snowbanks.

                  The TRES like their houses in spaces as open as possible, with openings facing east or southeast. We do patrol to keep wrens or other such from moving into the houses -- wrens, in particular, are aggressive and if they decide the houses are for them, will kill the little TRES to take the houses. Placing the boxes in open areas not too near trees helps make them less attractive to wrens. If wrens are trying to move in you either see the wrens or see the boxes begin to be filled with sticks. The TRES show up before the wrens, though, so wrens are usually only a problem with extra or late-occupied houses.

                  It's important NOT to have any kind of perch on the outside of the box hole -- the TRES don't need it but it makes it easier for other types of bird to move in.

                  There's more info than you'll ever want to read online about good houses for Tree Swallows/Bluebirds, though you have to note size differences between our bluebirds and Eastern Bluebirds. I found some decent plain box style eastern bluebird houses out of inch thick cedar at Walmart a few years ago and modified them (larger holes, higher in the box) for here. I attached about a 12 inch piece of 2 x 2 firmly to the box and used a pipe clamp to clamp it to the top of a 6 1/2' T-post (so boxes are about 5 1/2 feet off the ground). Inside the box I wedge a stick perhaps 1/2" to 3/4" in diameter to provide ease of access for parents and babies to the entrance hole. Works great here.


                  • #10
                    web search possibilities

                    pg 1
                    "It is important to note that it is compounds found within the plants that do the repelling. These compounds need to be released from the plant to unlock the mosquito-repelling qualities. Depending on the species of plant, they can be released by either crushing, drying, or infusing the plant into an oil or alcohol base that can be applied to skin, clothing, or living spaces. Others are best used as as a smudge, which releases the compounds in a smoke. Just standing near living plants that repel mosquitoes is often not effective."


                    "I would like to provide two things in this guide: 1. A collection of at-a-glance facts about mosquitoes that I learned through a combination of sources; 2. A list of links to resources where you can read what the true experts say. In the end, this guide should put you on the path to ending your mosquito problems."


                    ^^^Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent

                    Lavender has had a good effect here, but you have to have a lot of it. I think a variety of many "herbs" would be good too, but again something needs to "release" essential oils into the air. The wind needs to be blowing or you need to be "walking" on it.

                    We had chamomile in flower bed, by our front stairs. It was great while a breeze was on. At night or when we first come home, they hide in the plants and attack. Last year I pulled it out of pavers where we walked. I see this year that was a mistake!


                    • #11
                      I made a basil essential oil soap last year, and my brother now swears by it. He took it camping with a group of friends in the MIDDLE of mosquito season in our mountains, and was the only one who came back bite-free.

                      So find a soaper! Essential oils can be ordered or made, if you're handy with a copper still.


                      • #12
                        RE: Looking for plants that repel mosquitoes and gnats

                        I have made up a list of some mosquito repellent plants that could be of great use to you. The oils from most of these plants are used in repellent products:
                        • Citronella
                        • Lemon Eucalyptus
                        • Cinnamon
                        • Castor
                        • Rosemary
                        • Lemongrass
                        • Cedar
                        • Peppermint
                        • Clove
                        • Geranium
                        • Possibly Oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic


                        • #13
                          In skeet season on the farm, only two things really make early evening bearable without heavy repellants: west breeze, which prevents the skeets coming up from the lake to the east, and dragonflies. In their season, the dragonflies will be zipping around by dozens scarfing those bloodsuckers out of the air; no bites as long as it's light enough for the dragonflies to hunt, then you better get inside.