Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > June 2013 > Vampires? Oh, It's Just Mosquitoes...

Vampires? Oh, It's Just Mosquitoes...

Swirling cloaks, spooky music, and a voice with a Hungarian accent saying “Good E-e-e-vening.” Or incredibly annoying little insects buzzing around your face and feasting on every square inch of exposed flesh they can reach. Both bloodsuckers.  One you need garlic and a wooden stake to get rid of. Unfortunately, it’s not the mosquito. That would be much easier.
 
There are things we can do to help keep them out of our way, however. And there are plants that can actually help to repel mosquitoes! That’s the good news.
 
Citronella-scented geraniums are pretty lacy-leaved members of the geranium family. Their flowers are small and dainty but their lemony scent is large. Mosquitoes don’t like it. Other lemon-scented herbs that contain citronella oil are lemon thyme, lemon balm, and lemon grass. The lemon thyme and lemon balm are winter hardy perennials. The lemon grass is not winter-hardy here—neither is the citronella-scented geranium.
 
There are other scented herbs which are also quite effective at repelling mosquitoes— catnip, basil, pennyroyal, lavender, rosemary, and most all of your mint family members are all very good at repelling the little pesky things.
 
Now for the bad news--imagine surrounding your deck or patio with some pretty pots of fragrant herbs and not having to worry about mosquitoes at all. It’s a nice dream. Unfortunately, it’s just that—a dream. In order for any of these plants to begin repelling mosquitoes, the leaves must be crushed to release the essential oils. That means your deck or patio is going to be surrounded with pots of mangled plants. Not quite as pretty a picture. 
 
You can grab a handful of leaves, crush them, and leave them sitting in bowls or you can actually rub them on your skin (I’d probably do a “patch” test first to be sure you’re not allergic.). Me, well, I tend to go for the citronella-scented candles, although I’ve been known to rub Lemon Balm leaves on me when working out in the yard.
 
Other things we can do to help control the mosquito population is to not give them any place to live—this works best when you can get your neighbors to join in. Go through your yard and eliminate any place water can stand. All it takes is a scant half-inch of water sitting more than 24 hours and a mosquito will find it and lay eggs. Check under decks for old saucers that could collect rain water; check splash guards under downspouts to make sure they don’t have any where water can puddle; don’t let water stand in birdbaths more than a day without hitting with the garden hose. Check saucers under plants and don’t let water stand in them either.
 
Add mosquito”dunks” to ponds or standing water in creeks. These won’t harm fish but will kill mosquito larvae.
 
Encourage birds to visit your yard by planting bird-friendly shrubs and flowers, hanging bird feeders, bird houses, and keeping bird baths filled with fresh water. Speaking of vampires, by the way, one bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes in a single evening so appreciate them when they flutter and swoop over head. Consider hanging one or more “bat houses” to encourage them to hang out. And instead of hanging garlic around your neck, consider hanging lemon balm!
Posted: 6/4/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 1 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
Comments
George
This is a wonderfully informative post. I was under the assumption that having the plants close to the patio would help keep the Mosquitos away. Obviously that's not the case. Are there any other organic solutions to the buzzing "vampires" of summer other than what you listed in the article? I want to ensure my yard and patio area are as un inviting as possible to these flying vampires. Great article, as all your articles are. Thanks for sharing such useful info.
6/6/2013 7:22:43 PM

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