Insect Repellent Plants

Roaming around a house to get some fresh air, everyday we meet up with our uninvited guest(mosquitoes, bugs and other pests). Isn’t it insane? And see what it gives us in return? A head full of irritation with a package of health risk in bonus.

“These bugs and pest are attracted  to smell of carbon dioxide emitted from our breath and compounds emitted from our sweat, and hormone. “

Let’s learn some science behind insect repelling capacity of plants along with some information on best insect repellent species.

 

INTRODUCTION

Using commercial chemicals could be the alternative but this creates more hazard to natural environment and  in human health. Though commercial insect repellents shows better result by destroying wide range of pest, it creates various health risks. Exposer to high dose of chemical repellents leads to health problems such as: skin blisters, seizures, memory loss, headaches, stiffness in joints and shortness of breath, skin irritation.

 

 

It is also linked with neurotoxicity and may lead to physiological and behavioral problems especially with motor skills, and learning and memory dysfunction.

 

HOW CERTAIN PLANTS REPEL INSECTS (REASON/SCIENCE BEHIND IT)

Certain plants such as citronella, pyrethrum, etc. consist of various chemical compounds like linalool,  coumarin, estragole etc. that produces a strong odor unpleasant to many pest. It affects insects neuronal functioning which mask these pest from recognizing a sensitive smell releasing from the host they feed on.

Note: The reason how flies and mosquitoes find human is the warm smell coming from human sweat and carbon dioxide released from human breath. Their strong smell sensing capacity helps them to locate hosts. These insects are attracted to sweat, carbon-dioxide and hormonal smell.

 

SOME PREFERRED INSECTS REPELLING PLANTS

To get you started, here are some plants with an ability to repel  insects and pests through the smell that arise from essential oil present in it, but serves good to human:

 

1. Lavender

This is an aromatic plant with great medicinal values and unbelievable benefits. It  relaxes our mind with its pleasant smell, and keeps away unwanted pest such as moths, fleas, flies, spiders. Its essential oil  contains a compound known as Linalool, which produces a strong odor pleasant to humans but detestable to mosquitoes as this compound overloads their sensitive olfactory organs.

 

This enhance the beauty of garden too with its bluish flower, colorful butterflies and bees around it. There are different varieties of lavender that grows according to the climatic conditions so preferred most by many gardeners.

 

2.  Marigold

Marigold is considered as the best alternatives for addressing a localized mosquito problem as it contains pyrethrum, a compound used in many repellents and sometimes referred to as “nature’s insecticide.” Pyrethrum along with thiophenes which works on collaboration to repel pest  like plant lice, mosquitoes, and even rabbits is off gassed from the plant during its regular biological processes.

 

This beautiful flower is of multiple use. Besides repelling insects preying on tomato plants and other vegetables; it can also be planted as ornamental border plants in vegetable garden.

 

3. Citronella grass

Citronella is also called as “Lemon grass”. Citronella oil is the natural oil obtained from leaves and stem of Cymbopogon species. This oil is most common ingredient for formulation of mosquito repellents along with its anti-fungal property.  Strong aroma from distinctive citronella usually prevents the invasion of mosquitoes.

This species is used in many forms such as scented candles, torches, and its oil is applicable to skin. Normally, citronella oil provides protection for about 2 hours but when combined with larger molecules like vanillin in appropriate concentration its protection time is prolonged with better effect.

 

4.  Ageratum

It is a low-lying ornamental plant also known as Floss-flower”. It secrets a compound known as Coumarin, which mosquitoes find particularly offensive and is widely used as mosquito repellent. Many experiment have reflected that the crude extract of Ageratum in combination with coconut oil repelled vector mosquito in an effective manner.

 

Its leaf can be crushed to increase order. Although the flower of this plants ranges in various colors such as pink, white and violet color; bloomy blue color ageratum is well recognized for its mesmerizing beauty and aesthetical decorative purpose.

 

5. Chrysanthemum

This is a beautiful decorative flower found in different colors. It consists of pyrethrin, a compound used as commercial insect repellent. This pyrethrin attacks the nervous system of all insects and inhibits female mosquitoes from biting. These species are far less toxic to mammals and birds than many synthetic insecticides. 

Although it can be used to make insecticidal spray, Pyrethrin can be carcinogenic to humans and should be handled with great care. High dose of pyrethrin may cause such as asthmatic breathing, sneezing, nausea, headaches, etc.

 

6.  Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums is a small neglected  herb around us with bright edible flowers. Besides this, they are also great pest managers for your garden. It release an airborne chemical that repels predacious insects, protecting not just the nasturtium but other plant vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage, radish etc.

 

It usually repels white flies, squash, bugs, aphids ,many beetles and cabbage loppers. Fortunately, nasturtiums do not repel all the important pollinators. Some of the species of these plants could even survive winter season at an altitude of 10,000 ft. and up.

 

7. Catnip

Catnip is a perennial herb from “mint family”. It is a strong natural mosquito repellent.  The report of American chemical society shows that catnip is 10 times more effective than DEET that is used in commercial pesticides, although the reason behind its effectiveness is unknown.

This plant attracts cat. On the other hand, its essential oil medium  prevent mosquitoes and other flies. Catnip also contains nepetalactone and thus is used as herbal sedative for insomnia and depression patients.

 

8. Petunia

A flower plant with  lovely purple hue is a great pest repellent species. It repels pests such as tomato horn worm, aphids, leafhoppers, squash, bugs and asparagus beetles that feeds on vegetables. In addition to this; it also adds a burst of color to the garden increasing the beauty of your landscapes.

 

Plant it in sunny areas near the vegetables and herbs like beans, tomatoes, peppers and basil to get rid of these pests. They are also found in many varieties and are easy to grow. It is used as a companion plant in vegetable garden to protect vegetables from unwanted bugs naturally.

 

9. Basil

Basil is also known as queen of aromatic herbs”.  This species produces relaxing smell to human brain and helps to repel pests . It release a compound called estragole that repels mosquitoes and other flies such as carrot flies, asparagus beetles , white flies etc. 

 

Basil is a tender plants used in cuisines worldwide. Besides its huge commercial value for its insect repellent property; it also have great medicinal values including ability to enhance flavor in certain vegetables or can be taken as salad.

 

10. Geranium

This attractive annual flowering plant also have insect repellent benefits. Geranium extract, also called geraniol, is a common active ingredient in natural and commercial insect repellent sprays. It repels a wide variety of insect such as mosquitoes, and common pest that can damage many fruits and vegetables including cabbage and tomatoes.

 

Plant it circularly around the field to get best protection from pest. Geranium is safe for humans and pets. Besides insect repellent; this species are also used for skin and wound healing and to treat insomnia (from sedative properties). 

 

11. Thyme

A spice ingredient perennial herb from mint family is an effective mosquito repellent. According to a laboratory study, burning thyme leaves can help to repel mosquitoes providing about 85% protection for up to 90 minutes. Crushed leaves also give strong scent which also repels insects.

 

Besides this, it contains chemical that help recover bacterial and fungal infections, and minor irritations. It also relieves smooth muscle spasms, such as coughing and have antioxidant effect.

 

12. Rosemary

It is a woody perennial herb native to Mediterranean region and has multiple uses along with insect repellent property. Its woody scent keep mosquitoes as well as cabbage moths and carrot flies away. It is used for culinary purpose and also to make body perfumes. It is the most popular aromatic and medicinal plant world wide.

 

CONCLUSION

  • Planting insect repellent plant gives  protection  to both humans and garden vegetables .
  • These plants could also be of great medicinal values with multiple health benefits; if selected carefully.
  • The aromas releasing from these plants gives relaxation to mind and body, and also enhance natural beauty.
  • Along with the up listed plants there are many other plants with such insect repellent property but these are the recommended ones with higher benefits.

 

(Preserving nature is every humans duty and responsibility, Don’t thrash it)

 

Prativa Bhatta

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