Mosquitoes, flies and other insects irritate us at the best of times, but during Sydney’s hot and humid summers when we spend so much time outside, these critters seem hell-bent on driving us to distraction!
There are of course various products on the market to keep them at bay but we must remember that these invariably contain toxic chemicals that poison our soils, our water, our wildlife, our plants and ourselves.
Nature produces its own insect repellants – those plants most commonly used for their repellent properties are ones that contain “volatile oils”, which usually means that when the foliage or flowers are crushed or brushed against, they release strong odours, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. Volatile oils work more effectively in warmer weather and in humid weather even more so – great new for us Sydneysiders! The plant oils are extracted to make essences that can be used for many different purposes including natural insect repellents.
If your growing space for plants is limited, try this easy homemade natural spray: put two tablespoons of white wine vinegar in a half a litre of water then add eight drops each of citronella, peppermint and eucalyptus oils. Spray around the areas you’ll be using the most – the barbeque, dining areas and the places where the kids play. If using oil extracts, buy good quality oils and essences from a reputable health food store and ask questions about the safety of the product for human use and for use around your pets.
Using insect repellent plants is about keeping a better balance in your garden. Insect repellent plants work by using odours to confuse and deter insects. Simple factors like breezes, proximity and quantities of certain plants will be influential in their success to repel. Sometimes it is simply brushing past a plant or watering it at a certain time of the day that will cause the odours to be released.
Here are just a few common plants available right now that I recommend you use to keep you sane in the garden this summer include lavender, rosemary, geraniums, nasturtiums, marigolds, chrysanthemums, catnip, basil, lemon thyme, garlic, coriander, oregano, mint – all are lovely to look at or great to eat and some you can do both with!
So not only can you look forward to a more relaxing summer, you can enjoy the delicious scents and colourful flowers that these hardworking plants produce naturally!