Plants – nature’s own pest control

Marigolds planted among vegetables keep insects away - and they ward off mosquitoes.

Nature is wonderful. Not only do so many plants in our garden look and smell good but they can also be used in cooking, the making of essential oils and to keep unwanted pests “out of your hair”.

The warm, balmy nights of summer mean we’ll be hearing the whine of mosquitoes. Here are some tips from Nick Stodel, MD of Stodels Nurseries about plants to help keep the goggas at bay and home-made remedies for those itchy bites.

When deciding which plant you want to use, factor in where you will put them, either hanging outside doorways, or in pots near windows or outdoor seating for maximum impact.

Citronella, a lemony plant is the most popular for keeping mozzies away. Most people like a citronella candle but if you plant this pretty grass-like plant in a container, it will be just as effective. It is not readily available but if you can find them at your local garden centre you can also plant citronella geraniums in pots on your patio to avoid being bothered by the buzzing of mosquitoes.

Lavender is easy to grow and has many uses including acting as a mosquito repellent.

Lemon balm smells a lot nicer than citronella and works just as well. All you have to do is take the leaves and crush them and rub them on your body where skin will be exposed.

Marigolds are usually planted among vegetables for good reason because they help keep most insects at bay and that includes mosquitoes. The smell is not the most pleasant but they are easy to grow.

Peppermint is a delicious tasting and smelling plant but bugs, and mosquitoes, hate it. You can crush the leaves to rub on your skin or use the essential oil in a lotion. It is also very easy to grow and can be used in cooking and chilled drinks too.

Home-made remedies

If you have been bitten by mosquitoes try these natural remedies to treat the bite an stop the itch.

Place a used dry teabag on the bite.

Rub raw honey on the bite.

Dip a cotton wool ball into apple cider vinegar and apply.

Make a paste using bicarbonate of soda and water and apply.

Rub the inside of a banana peel on the bite.

Take a leaf off an aloe vera plant and rub the bite with the gel like substance that oozes from the leaf.

A slice of fresh onion can take the sting out of the bite. Put onto the affected area for a few minutes until the itching subsides or you can rub a piece of raw garlic onto the wound. Initially you might feel a mind burn but this will be followed by relief.

Lemon juice applied directly to the bite will help keep the wound from becoming infected.

Make a basil rub by steeping dried basil leaves in boiling water and then dip a cloth or cottonwool into it and rub gently on the bites. Alternatively finely chop fresh basil leaves and rub them onto your skin.

The coolness of ice will numb the area enough to stop the itching or use a slice of cucumber – it also cools and soothes and unlike ice, won’t melt.

Catnip is loved by cats but hated by bugs. Blend a few leaves and stalks and steep in hot water and use as a repellent spray.

Nature has many of its own deterrents and cures, so make sure you have some of these plants handy when the bugs begin to bite.