Bzzzzzzz. Bzzzzz. Bzzzzzzz. There are two seasons in Florida: winter and mosquito season. Summer rains mean lots and lots of mosquitoes. These insects are more than just annoying. Mosquitoes can spread some very nasty diseases, including Zika. Right now in Florida, Zika is very real and very near. Protecting yourself is important.
If you want to spend any time outside in the summer you will come face to face with the nuisance of mosquitoes. You can wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, spray bug sprays, light citronella torches, burn citronella candles, but there are more natural ways to conquer these pesky insects.
First, inspect your property for standing water. This is one of the most effective ways to minimize breeding zones for mosquitoes. Change the water in birdbaths or fountains every two or three days, and refresh your pet’s outdoor water bowl daily. If you have a rain barrel, cover your rain barrel or install a screen on top to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water. Some species of mosquitoes breed specifically in bromeliads. Flush these plants regularly or sprinkle Bti granules in the bromeliad cups.
Second, consider using plants to ward off those mosquitoes. This is a green approach that will not only deter mosquitoes, but also add great fragrances to your garden.
What to plant:
Marigolds are colorful and easy to grow. Their smell discourages mosquitoes and bugs that prey on tomatoes. They can be potted and placed near entry ways. You can also take the dried marigold heads, which hold the marigold seeds, and easily plant more marigolds!
Citronella is found in insect repellants for it’s strong scent. Be sure to buy the grass and not the geranium variety for the best results.
Catnip is an easy-to-grow perennial. Your cat will also love this plant! It can become invasive, so plant in pots to control. It has been found to be ten times more effective at repelling than DEET.
Lavender repels mosquitoes and gnats. The fragrance also promotes relaxation and sleep. The dried flowers repel moths in closets. This plant is drought tolerant and needs full sun.
Lemon and cinnamon basil are the pest varieties to repel insects. This herb repels flies and mosquitoes. Keep damp and be sure there is good drainage. You can also make great Italian dishes with this herb.
Lemon balm encourages pollinators to your garden while repelling mosquitoes.
Rosemary repels mosquitoes and is a cooking herb that does well in hot and dry climates. You can plant in a pot or use as an ornamental.
Planting particular plants to deter mosquitoes may be up for argument against the commercial insect repellants. Still, I love the scents of all these plants and most of these plants have more than one use making them a great addition to any garden. Stop swatting mosquitoes and start planting!
I feel you upon me,
You’re biting me everywhere;
Each time that you sting me
Sensations you bring me,
You bite, but you don’t seem to care;
~Marcheta: A Parody