Living in Spain has many benefits, but unfortunately the dreaded mosquitos aren't one of them. However, the fact remains that if we want to reside in Spain, we have to learn to deal with them, especially during the months of May to October when they are most active.
It's not just about the irritating itchy bites either. Mosquitos are more than capable of spreading dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases such as the Zika virus, dengue, malaria, yellow fever and encephalitis. So taking the right measures can definitely benefit the health of both you and your family.
And then there's the nasty Tiger Mosquito, which has become prevalent here in Spain in recent years. Tiger mosquito bites can be so severe that many people can end up with a visit to their doctor.
In previous articles, we have discussed a number of ways in which to prevent being bitten by mosquitos and have even provided you with some advice on how to catch the little blighters by building a mosquito trap.
So we thought we would share some extra information with you on specific plants that mosquitoes just hate. Plant a few of these around your home and you will be well on your way to creating a mosquito free zone. Although plants around the house can act as a primary deterrent they are sometimes avoided. For those mosquitoes that think they are clever you can also mix the essential oils of the plants listed below with a carrier oil and apply directly to the skin.
Although there are many plants that can be used to deter mosquitos, the list below contains those that are most commonly available from garden centres or that can easily be grown in the garden or pots.
Citronella has been used for centuries to ward of mosquitos and other insects. Today, it can be found in a wide range of products such as citronella candles, sprays, roll-ons and bottled repellents.
Citronella grass is widely available and although it doesn't kill mosquitos, it does do a wonderful job in repelling them. It does this by masking the carbon dioxide and lactic acid, which us human beings emit. These scents attract mosquitos and help them to home in on their prey.
The great thing about Citronella is that it's non-toxic to both humans and animals and can easily be grown in a garden or placed in pots for example on a terrace or patio.
Containing Nepetalactone, which is thought to be around 10 times more potent than DEET (the substance found in most commercial mosquito repellents), Catnip is a real powerhouse when it comes to fending off mosquitos.
Nepetalactone also happens to be somewhat of a stimulant for our feline friends. When the plant is sniffed or chewed by cats, it gives them a natural 'high', which has been likened to that of Marijuana. However, not all cats are affected by it and those that are, suffer no ill effects, so it's safe to grow around the home.
Lavender (highly recommended)
Another plant that can be used to repel mosquitos is Lavender (Lavandula). This popular flowering fragrant herb is native to the Mediterranean and gives off a beautiful scent and has a distinctive purple bloom. Lavender also loves the sun, so it's a great choice for growing in a warm climate such as here in Spain.
Lavender is really popular when it comes to repelling mosquitos and other insects and is why you can find lavender oil in many natural (example: lavender essential oil mixed with almond carrier oil) and commercial mosquito oils that you can apply directly to the skin.
Lavender is perfect for growing in the garden or can just as easily be planted in pots and placed on an outside terrace or patio.
Although you may associate basil more as a cooking ingredient, it's actually really good when it comes to keeping mosquitos at bay.
Basil gives off a natural aroma, which like the other plants in this list, disrupts the mosquitos ability to locate their prey.
Another added bonus of growing Basil is that you can even crush a handful of the leaves and then rub them directly onto your skin. This acts as a natural repellent and has the added benefit in that it contains no harmful chemicals, which can sometimes be found in commercial repellents.
Although all varieties of basil will help to repel mosquitos, there are a few that pack an even bigger punch. These are the lemon, cinnamon and Peruvian varieties of the herb.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) is a herb that will be familiar to many of us and can be recognised by its distinctive pine needle shaped leaves and its strong woody scent.
Containing a natural essential oil that's very effective in repelling mosquitos, Rosemary is definitely one to grow in pots on your patio or terrace.
Although Rosemary is a hardy plant and perfect for the hot and dry Spanish climate, you may need to move the containers inside during the colder winter months as it doesn't like the colder weather.
A member of the mint family, Lemon Balm is an excellent choice for your garden if you want to keep mosquitos away.
Lemon Balm contains high levels of the Citronellal compound, which is used in many mosquito repellent products. It is Citronellal, which helps Lemon Balm to give off its strong lemony aroma. This makes it attractive to certain insects such as bees and butterflies, but a total nightmare for your average Spanish mosquito.
Lemon Balm is quite an invasive plant like most in the mint family so it's best kept in pots so that it can be easily maintained. Keep the pots close to your seating areas, which will keep all of the unwanted bugs away while you relax.
Like a number of other herbs, the lemon balm leaves can be crushed and applied directly to the skin for added protection.
A favourite with many gardeners, Marigolds are a hardy annual plant, which is very easy to grow and often used as an ornamental border plant in gardens.
Marigolds can be used in the fight against mosquitos and other unwanted insects as they contain high levels of Pyrethrum, which is found in many of the commercial mosquito repellents.
Plant them in pots in direct sunlight and place them close to the entry points for mosquitos such as windows and doors. As an added bonus, if you grow tomato plants you will find that the Marigolds scent will also help to deter the insects that usually prey on them.
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April 09, 2013