Are you a magnet for insects?

If you are, you know it. As soon as you walk outdoors it seems, annoying insects are attracted to you. Or perhaps you have a neighbor who can only visit you indoors during the summer months because of the outdoor pests they are bothered by.

But it might help to know that there are ways to help you enjoy the outdoors by strategically placing insect-repelling plants in your garden or on your patio.

These herbs produce essential oils that act as a natural bug repellant, but there isn’t enough research to say exactly how many plants are necessary to do the trick. So our advice is to use as many as your garden will accommodate. (And the very best thing you can do to reduce the mosquito population is to eliminate standing water, which is where they breed).

There is, of course the cooking benefit of growing your own herbs too. It is their wonderful smell that we love that the bugs don’t. So here are some plants and the bugs that are bugged by them.


Basil repels house flies and mosquitoes. Plant basil by your house doors and in outdoor areas where you like to relax or entertain. And of course basil is delicious in salads, soups, and many chicken and pork dishes.


Although people love the smell of lavender, mosquitoes, flies, and other unwanted insects hate it. Place tied sprigs inside your house to keep flies outside. You can extract oil from the flowers as a mosquito repellant. Here is a website to show you how:

Lemon Thyme

This hardy herb can adapt to just about any soil conditions in a sunny location. The plant itself won’t repel mosquitoes. To release its chemicals, you must first bruise the leaves. Simply cut off a few stems and rub them between your hands, then on exposed skin surfaces.


This herb also repels mosquitoes, but unless you want it to take over your garden, plant in pots around the garden and on the patio. The plants aromatic oils can be extracted and combined with apple cider vinegar and cheap vodka or witch hazel to make a mosquito repellant.


Home cooks love rosemary as much as insects hate it. This herb can be grown in containers or planted in the garden. The plant and its cuttings are effective repellants.  Simply boil dried rosemary in a quart of water for 20 minutes, then strain the liquid and combine with another quart of cool water. Put in the refrigerator and transfer to small squirt bottles to use when outdoors. When you no longer smell the rosemary, it’s time to make another batch.

Other insect-repelling herbs

* Bay leaves repel flies

* Chives repel aphids and Japanese beetles

* Dill repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites and tomato horn worms

* Fennel repels aphids and slugs

* Thyme repels whiteflies, cabbage loopers and maggots, ear worms in corn, and tomato hornworms.

So our advice is plant, cook, and enjoy the outdoors this summer with savory, useful and aromatic herbs.

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