9 plants to make your own mosquito repellent

Everything you need to keep mosquitoes away could be sitting in a pot on your back deck, says a UPEI biology professor.

Mosquitoes are not fond of many aromatic plants

Some plants can help keep bugs away, says Christian LaCroix. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

Everything you need to keep mosquitoes away could be sitting in a pot on your back deck, says a UPEI biology professor.

Many aromatic plants have characteristics that mosquitoes avoid, said Prof. Christian Lacroix, with geraniums being one of the best know examples.

Christian Lacroix believes it is a combination of smell and taste the mosquitoes don't like. (US Centers for Disease Control)

"You can actually smell, sometimes, the oils off the geranium plant," said Lacroix.

"What you do when you rub the fingers on the leaf is break some of these glands, these hairs on the surface of the leaf that contain this compound, and when you smell your fingers, you can smell that very distinctive lemony-like smell."

Other useful plants for repelling insects include

  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Lemon grass
  • Marigolds
  • Mint
  • Penny Royal
  • Thyme

Lacroix noted the ancient Greeks used penny royal as a flea repellent.

The substances are produced by the plants to protect themselves from insects. Lacroix believes it is a combination of smell and taste that mosquitoes don't like.

Marigolds, lemon grass, mint and thyme all have properties that mosquitoes do not like. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

Keeping the bugs away is not as easy as surrounding your lawn chair with geraniums and other plants, he said. You actually have to crush the leaves between your fingers, and then rub the compound on to your skin.

It is also possible to buy commercially-prepared, plantbased mosquito repellents, Lacroix said.

With files from Pat Martel