Buzz off! — Plants that repel bugs naturally

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

I know it seems a little late to be printing this article since we are headed for the autumn season, but I feel like it can still be of help to someone out there. It may be you already have some of these plants around. This information comes from Countryside Magazine, May/June 2017.

Basil-Hang a basket of basil outside your door or in a window box with other herbs. Rub the leaves a bit as you pass to release the volatile oils that repel black and other flies. One of my colleagues makes the best fly repellent by pouring vanilla over cotton balls in a jar and adding fresh basil and mint.

Chrysanthemum-You’ll enjoy pops of color with chrysanthemums. The blooms contain pyrethrum. Sound familiar? It’s used in natural insect repellents and also shampoo for dogs. It is known to repel and kill ants, ticks, and fleas to name a few. I put pots of chrysanthemums around seating areas on our front patio to keep hitchhiking ticks and ants away.

Lavender-Among the plants that repel bugs like flies, fleas, mosquitoes, moths and even gnats, lavender takes first prize. Planted alongside a walkway, you’ll enjoy lavender’s unique aroma when you brush against it. Make a fragrant and bug-repelling simmer pot by simmering crushed lavender in a little water.

Oregano-Greek oregano is the gold standard, but all oreganos multitask when it comes to insect pests. Oregano contains a good amount of carvacrol, a natural insect repellent. Put oregano around sitting areas outdoors. Rub a few sprigs in your palms to release the bug-repelling scent.

Rosemary-With its piney aroma, rosemary is anathema to many insects. Make a simple rosemary insect spray by simmering equal amounts of chopped rosemary in distilled water, covered for 30 minutes. Let it come to room temperature still covered so volatile oils don’t evaporate. Strain and put in spray bottles. The spray disinfects the air as well. Refrigerated, this spray keeps for a couple of weeks.

Thyme-Bruise thyme leaves for an aroma that signals mosquitoes to scatter and quick. Out of all the thyme varieties I grow, lemon thyme is my favorite for its citrusy aroma.

Peppermint-Peppermint plant uses can number in the hundreds. It’s one of my beloved herbs. As mentioned, it’s an effective ant repellent. Keep pots right outside doorways. But mint doesn’t stop there. Flies, spiders, gnats, and mosquitoes keep their distance from this herb as well. Add some to handing baskets. The mint trails over the top, hanging down to discourage climbing and flying insects.

Catnip-A powerful mosquito repellent, it contains natural oil that, according to a study done by Iowa State University, is 10 times stronger than Deet, an ingredient in commercial insect repellants.

Hope this is helpful. Until next time!

Alice Russell, also known as “Me Me,” resides in the Randolph/Saxe area. She can be reached at

About Alice Russell


email author More by Alice