Mosquitos are tiny but their bite is mighty. During peak seasons, enjoying time outdoors can be made difficult by these little bugs who can be a big nuisance. Not only do their bites provide you with days and sometimes even weeks of itchy discomfort, they can also carry and spread diseases like Malaria and Zika by transmitting the blood of one host to another through their bite.
Some might wonder why scientists or big companies haven’t come up with a good way to eradicate them altogether. The truth is, there are really only a hundred or so species of mosquitoes that are disease carriers out of the nearly four thousand species that live on our planet today, and many of them serve as a food source for animals across the world, so wiping mosquitoes out completely really isn’t the answer.
While they are food sources for animals, there are in fact a few types of carnivorous plants that eat mosquitoes as well! These plants combined with others that repel mosquitoes can offer you a variety of natural ways to try and keep these nasty buggers at bay.
We’ve come up with a list of ten plants that you can use that either eat or repel mosquitoes.
Top Mosquito Eating Plants
1. Pitcher Plant
A pitcher plant, otherwise known as a trumpet leaf, is a carnivorous plant that attracts and eats mosquitoes. It is common for people to grow pitcher plants in hanging baskets or pots you can put on your porch in order to help cut down on mosquitoes. This plant lures insects inside it’s ‘pitcher’ which holds digestive enzymes that allow it to consume its prey and use it as nutrients to grow.
This plant has green flowers with purple veined ‘pitchers’, and can grow up to four feet in length. They like sun to light shade and wet soil, so they do well in humid areas and bog gardens. Make sure to hang them in areas where they will get plenty of moisture.
Drosera is a carnivorous plant that is commonly known as the sundew. It is one of the largest family of carnivorous plants, having over 194 known species. These plants grow native on every continent except Antarctica. They digest insects by curling around them with their leaves, which hold glandular tentacles that have a sticky substance that both attracts and helps to digest. The insects are attracted to the sweet secretions in the sticky substance and become trapped and are then ‘eaten’ by the plant.
There are four known species of drosera that are native to the US. They can be found in the southern coastal states from Virginia to Texas.
3. Venus Fly Trap
When you talk about carnivorous plants, you can’t help but think of the venus fly trap. While it’s true that venus fly traps eat mosquitoes, they aren’t really the best to have around for the purpose of repelling them. That’s because venus fly traps only eat a few insects per week. Even so, they are one of the most fascinating plants to watch in action.
These plants are native to North and South Carolina, but they have also been introduced to other states such as Florida and even New Jersey. In the wild, they enjoy acidic soil in the understories of forests. They like high humidity and need lots of sunlight exposure to do well.
Venus fly traps can grow to be around five inches wide. Plants usually have around five to six stems, each of which has a ‘trap’ at the top. The traps are shaped like clamshells and the edges of them are lined with what look like thin teeth. When the clamshell’s leaves snap shut, whatever happens, to be inside becomes trapped and is digested by the plant.
Tiny sensory hairs called trichomes are within the plant’s trap, and when an insect touches those hairs with two movements within a 20-second time frame, the plant is triggered to snap it’s trap closed. Digestive enzymes flow to the inside of the trap and help it to break down its prey, using it for growth. It will reopen after this process has been completed, usually between five and twelve days after the insect was originally caught.
Venus flytraps have been known to commonly eat ants, flies, spiders, mosquitoes, and sometimes even small frogs.
4. Citronella Geranium
You probably think of citronella when you think of mosquito repellants because of the wide variety of citronella products offered for this particular purpose. While citronella geraniums do contain citronella, they are not the source of the oil used for these types of products. With that being said, citronella geraniums do give off a scent that is not liked by mosquitoes, so it has made it on our list. They are best used for repelling mosquitoes in a small area.
This type of geranium has a lavender-colored flower and can be grown in both pots or in the ground. These plants are only hardy in zones 9 – 11 in the US, however, you can still grow them as annuals in other parts of the country. They can be dug up and stored inside for the cold winter months, then replanted in the spring.
5. Lemon Grass
Lemongrass is a great mosquito deterrent but is only hardy in tropical climates. This means while you can enjoy it’s repelling abilities during warm months, it will need to be brought indoors when temperatures cool if you are intending on keeping it alive during the winter. Because of this, it’s best to plant your lemongrass in a pot for an easy transition when it gets cold.
Lavender has long been used to keep pests and insects away. Both fresh and dried lavender can deter certain bugs. Lavender sachets were a common way to keep clothing fresh from bugs such as moths and fleas. It can be dried and hung around the house as well. In addition to fleas and moths, it is also a repellent of flies and mosquitoes and even mice.
Not only does lavender offer a beautiful purple flower, but it is also often used for medicinal purposes though it has not been clinically shown to have any effect on health or disease, in potpourris, and its nectar can even be used to make honey.
Marigolds are not only pretty to look at but they are a robust variety of flowers that can grow just about anywhere. They are hardy as perennials in zones 5 – 10 in the US and can grow up to 3 feet tall. Their blooms of orange, yellow, and ruddy reds can be enjoyed from summer through the first frost.
Plant marigolds where they will get full sun and keep their soil moist to keep them happiest. They can be planted as border plants, along the edging, in containers, or really mixed in anywhere in your garden.
A marigold plant acts as a deterrent for mosquitoes as well as other garden pests such as aphids, rabbits, and root-knot nematodes.
Planting peppermint is another great way to repel mosquitoes. Peppermint exudes such a strong fragrance that it is actually a deterrent for a wide array of pests. Mosquitoes detest its scent, as well as ants, and even mice have been known to stay away from where it is planted.
Grown best in shaded locations, it likes moisture as well. If you opt for this plant, you’ll likely want to keep it potted, as it is known to be a super-spreader. It spreads by growing underground rhizomes that then shoot up and cover ground quickly with runners that then grow into more plants. Keep your peppermint well watered but not too wet.
This tasty herb can be grown in a variety of different ways including a shrub, in hedgerows, as a perennial in your herb garden, or even as a creeping variety in hanging baskets. Rosemary will grow as a perennial in the US in zones 8 – 10 and will be an annual in other areas of the country. It enjoys full sun and soil that is well-drained.
Rosemary is a great herb to use for a wide variety of recipes and is indeed a mosquito repellent.
The chrysanthemum commonly referred to as mums offers gorgeous blooms for your summer to late fall garden. They are hardy in zones 5 – 9 in the US and come in both perennial and annual varieties.
Annuals can actually bloom from spring all the way through to frost and can grow to be around 3 feet tall. They offer blooms in a variety of colors including pink, yellow, white, red, and sometimes even two-toned.
Perennials are more shrubby and can grow up to 5 feet tall. They offer blooms in colors ranging from yellow and orange to lavender and white.
It is commonplace for gardeners to plant mums near their vegetable gardens because they repel all sorts of insects and pests including ants, fleas, ticks, spider mites, and silverfish. And of course, they are on our list because they can indeed repel mosquitoes.