Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Dealing with pests is a largely ignored area of survival. Yet those pests are surprisingly dangerous, carrying disease and eating up our gardens. During “normal” times we keep these pests under control with insecticides; but what about when those chemicals aren’t available? What are we going to do during a survival scenario when the chemical pesticides run out?
For that matter, is there a viable option that we could be using now? After all, those chemicals aren’t good for us either. Chemical pesticides are actually nerve agents, just a weaker version of what would be used in chemical warfare. They’re strong enough to kill the insects though, which means that they probably aren’t all that good for our bodies either.
Some sort of natural solution would be much healthier for us now, while also contributing to ensuring that our gardens can survive, even through a disaster and its aftermath. At the same time, we could do a much better job of controlling some pests, like mosquitoes, which aren’t really affected so much by most pesticides. The trick is finding what will work.
There are two basic ways to approach this. One is to use beneficial insects that eat the pests that invade our gardens. While that will help our gardens, it won’t do much to help keep those insects from bothering us and away from our homes.
To do that, it helps to use plants that act as natural repellants. Most produce odors that the insects find repulsive, while not being offensive to us humans. That’s all we need, as the insects will find somewhere else to go.
So, what sorts of plants should we be using for this?
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The oil itself comes from this grass, which produce it as they grow. Planting citronella around patios, doorways, and windows is an easy and natural way to keep mosquitoes out of our homes and patios.
Lemongrass is actually an herb, but it also produces citronella oil, making it another great mosquito repellent. The grass will grow as much as four feet tall in one season and can be harvested and dried for use in the kitchen.
Flowers that are Pest Repellants
Some flowers work well as pest repellants, due to their strong natural odor. While this might be enjoyable to us, it is not so enjoyable to the pests that we want to keep out.
The marigold flower has a rather strong scent, which a large variety of insects find repulsive, including mosquitoes, aphids, and plant lice. As an added bonus, planting marigolds around your garden will keep rabbits out of it and away from eating your plants down to the ground, before they can produce any fruit.
Normally used in low-costs bouquets, you can grow chrysanthemums at home, where they will help keep insects out of your home and garden. They are one of the few plants that repel cockroaches, as well as helping to keep ants, ticks, fleas, mites and beetles away.
These insects recognize the chrysanthemum as poisonous to them, so stay away from it. In fact, it’s so poisonous to insects that it is used in many residential insecticides.
A very common household plant, the humble petunia is helpful in protecting your vegetable garden. Petunias repel aphids, tomato worms, squash bugs and some types of beetles.
However, the same scent that repels these insects can attract caterpillars and slugs. This plant is an annual, so it needs to be replanted every year.
My wife’s favorite, as she loves the scent of lavender. But most insects hate the smell of lavender, making it useful for repelling not only flies and mosquitoes, but also fleas and moths. It is technically an herb, but I’ve never personally used it that way.
Rather than repelling insects with its scent, sunflowers act as a trap for garden pests, keeping them away from your other plants.
These flowers are so proficient at fighting pests that they are commonly planted in commercial agriculture to repel vegetables that are at risk from garden pests. They are a broad-range repellent, that work for hundreds of different types of pests.
This tall, attractive narrow plant is a carnivorous plant, like the Venus Fly Trap. The leaves of the plant form a long funnel, with nectar inside it. The combination of the nectar and the bright-colored lip of the plant attracts insects, which find themselves trapped once they get inside.
Downwards pointing “hairs” on the inside of the leaves prevent the insects from climbing back out. Pitcher plant are helpful for eliminating ants, flies, wasps, beetles, slugs and snails.
Herbs that are Pest Repellants
Many herbs repel insects as well, which makes sense, as part of what we grow these plants for is the savory aroma that they provide in our food.
A kitchen herb garden will not only provide an inexpensive way to grow your own herbs, rather than buying them; but it will also help keep pests out of your kitchen (one of their favorite rooms to invade).
Besides providing a nice scent and freshening breath, all types of mint work as natural mosquito repellants. However, mint can easily become an invasive species, taking over your lawn.
For that reason, it’s best to plant it in pots, rather than in the ground. Those pots can then be moved to wherever you need them the most.
Perhaps one of the best herbs for repelling mosquitoes is basil, which also works for repelling flies. That makes it a great herb to plant around an outdoor cooking and eating area. Besides that, the herb itself is useful in a wide range of dishes.
Chives are useful for protecting a vegetable garden, as they will turn away various types of beetles and flies. As the chives grow, they can be cut for use in salads and recipes, allowing the plant’s shoot to grow back.
Rosemary is extremely useful for those who live in hot, dry climates, where it might be difficult to grow some of the other herbs and flowers I’ve mentioned. The strong odor of rosemary is best for keeping away flies and mosquitoes. As with basil, this herb is useful in a wide variety of dishes.
While mostly known for making cats act like they’re drunk, catnip is also a garden herb and an excellent protector for the garden. The scent of the catnip plant will keep aphids, squash bugs and many species of beetles away from the garden, as well as weevils. Catnip grows well in hot climates.
This one’s a bit different than the others we’ve discussed, as sage doesn’t keep insects away when it is growing. However, if the leaves of the sage are thrown in a fire, the smoke produced will help to keep away unwanted insects.
So if you’re the kind that likes to sit around a fire pit in the backyard, it might help to grow a bit of sage. Besides, it’s a useful herb, especially if you want to make your own sausage.
One Final Thought
By the way, before talking about these plants, make sure you don’t leave anyplace for mosquitoes to breed. Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, that means making sure that you don’t have any standing water around your home. But that’s easier said than done, if we’re also trying to use rainwater capture for even part of our water supplies.
Even so, there is one trick that will help; that’s to put goldfish in the water barrel; just the normal goldfish you can buy at the pet store. The goldfish will eat the mosquito larva, helping to keep down the mosquito population. While not a perfect solution, it will help.
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