WTF Fun Fact 13382 – Herbs That Repel Insects

You might consider planting some herbs that repel insects if you’re trying to enjoy the great outdoors but are being chased back inside by pesky mosquitos or other flying pests. Of course, insects are an integral part of the food chain. But you can take steps to avoid being a mosquito (or other biting insects) buffet.

Natural repellants

Nature already has the tools to help you keep many bugs at bay. And while we all know it’s not going to be 100% effective or work immediately, some careful planning can help you create a relatively bug-free sanctuary zone. It can even give you some simultaneous culinary inspiration.

One of the advantages of using these natural insect-repelling plants is that they not only serve a functional purpose but also contribute to the overall aesthetics of your garden. Their foliage, flowers, and delightful scents are easily incorporated into existing flower beds, herb gardens, or even container gardens, providing both practicality and visual appeal.

Herbs that repel insects naturally

The first thing you might consider planting is basil. While we find its aroma delightful, it’s unappealing to insects like mosquitoes. The active compounds in basil, such as linalool and eugenol, act as natural repellents. No bug smooshing necessary!

Not a big basil fan? Well, lavender is another good choice. Its purple blooms and calming fragrance are loved by humans but disliked by mosquitoes, flies, and moths. Planting lavender around your garden borders or near seating areas can provide a fragrant barrier that keeps these unwanted visitors away. But just so you know, the flowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. This makes it a double win for some people – unless you don’t like bees.

Finally, mint is a great choice as an insect repellant. Its strong scent, derived from menthol, is highly effective at repelling both mosquitoes and ants. Planting mint strategically around your garden or near outdoor seating areas can be a great bug barrier. However, it’s important to note that mint can be invasive, so you may want to contain it in pots or planters to prevent it from taking over your garden.

Nothing is perfect

Gardening with these insect-repelling plants offers an eco-friendly alternative to chemical insecticides. By opting for natural repellents, you avoid exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

To make the most of these insect-repelling plants, consider their placement within your garden. Plant them strategically near entrances, seating areas, or any place where you want to deter insects. Harvesting their leaves and flowers can also release more of their repellent properties. Crush a few leaves of basil or mint and rub them on your skin as a natural insect repellent when spending time outdoors.

Of course, herbs that repel insects may not provide complete protection against all types of pests. Therefore, it’s advisable to employ additional measures such as wearing long sleeves, using mosquito nets, or employing non-toxic insect repellents when necessary.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “10 Insect-Repelling Plants That Are Known To Keep The Bugs Away” — Farmer’s Almanac

WTF Fun Fact 13062 – Catnip Better Than DEET

Could catnip be better than DEET at repelling insects? If so, that’s great news for those of us who would like to avoid spraying synthetic compounds all over our bodies.

Research on repelling insects with catnip and DEET

Researchers from Northwestern University and Lund University have been investigating catnip as an insect repellent, particularly for mosquitos. Since mosquitos carry potentially deadly diseases, it’s crucial to find a way to protect vulnerable people during warm weather.

Catnip is part of the mint family and, when dried, is exactly the same substance that you’ll find inside cat toys. However, catnip extract – a more concentrated form – is what you’d need to scare away mosquitos and other insects.

An ancient insect repellent

“Catnip and its active ingredient, Nepetalactone, have been used for millennia to ward off insect pests, at least since the time of Pliny the Elder,” said Marcus C. Stensmyr, associate professor at Lund University. “But why Catnip is so potent on such a broad range of insect species has remained unknown.”

According to Northwestern University’s website on the research “Traditional approaches to mosquito control involved insecticides, but those eliminate other insect species as collateral damage. Modern formulations of insect repellents such as DEET target mosquito odor and taste receptors, rendering the insect incapable of recognizing the chemical cues that signal a human prey.”

Nepetalactone, the active compound in catnip activates a pain receptor found in some insects. It’s still unclear how cats are so attracted to it.

So-author Marco Gallio noted that plant-derived repellants like catnip are also cheaper and more readily available than something like DEET.

In 2001, a paper presented at the American Chemical Society suggested that nepetalactone could be up to 10x more effective than DEET in repelling insects.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Could catnip become the new DEET?” — Northwestern Now