If there’s anything I’ve learned from spending 30ish summers in Minnesota, it’s this: Nothing ruins a patio party faster than mosquitoes (except maybe ants…or biting flies). Mosquitoes, flies, beetles and other pesky party poopers are mega-annoying when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors—and even worse when they make their way inside—but there’s no need to spray down your yard with industrial-strength insecticide.
Just like how they can clean the air indoors, a few strategically placed plants will help ward off insects, allowing you to dine al fresco in peace.
Here are 10 bug repelling plants to try. And not only will these ward off unwanted critters, but you can use the herbs to make your next cookout even tastier. (And also check out our post on 8 essential oils that repel bugs naturally!)
These bright-colored beauties are often planted to repel squash bugs, beetles and aphids. They need a sunny spot, so try them near your vegetable garden or in a window box.
There’s an oil in basil that kills mosquito eggs. Plant basil in pots near gathering areas to ward off flies and mosquitoes, and to use in pesto!
These pretty, sun-loving plants are often used by farmers to keep pests at bay. They’ll help keep mosquitoes and aphids out of your yard.
The same scent that ails our insomnia and makes our linens smell amazing is absolutely disgusting to flies, moths and mosquitoes. Plant it if you have a sunny garden, or keep a few bouquets around to ward off the pests.
In addition to repelling mosquitoes, potent rosemary will help protect your vegetable plants from infestation.
This pleasant-smelling plant (along with its cousin lemon balm) helps repel biting insects. It’s best to plant mint in pots, because it will spread like crazy.
Also a member of the mint family, catnip repels bugs thanks to its nepetalactone—the same property that attracts cats. Go figure!
Pyrethrins, a compound that’s found in chrysanthemums and used in many commercial insect repellents, keeps mosquitoes, roaches, beetles, ticks and silverfish away.
Chives, leeks, onions, garlic, scallions and shallots fall into this group. They grow tall with pretty purple, white or pink flowers and help protect other veggies (and your yard) against slugs, flies and worms, although they can attract moths. Be warned that, like garlic and onions, allium plants can be extremely toxic to dogs and cats.
Citronella is the oil found in lemongrass (thus its slightly citrus-y scent). Lemongrass needs tons of sun, so most of us will have to enjoy it as an annual in the summer.
More bug-repelling tips:
- Remove any standing water, which is an instant breeding ground for bugs. Check bird baths and buckets!
- Keep food covered when eating outdoors
- Keep trash and recycling covered, and far away from where you’ll be hanging out outside
- Cucumber slices and chalk are known to be effective ant repellants
- Make citronella diffusers using essential oils and beeswax, or citronella candles
- Make a DIY diffuser, lemongrass lotion or lemon-mint patio spray