Summer is the season for mosquitoes, and here in Florida, they can get to be a real nuisance. Warm weather with a lot of rain is guaranteed to get their populations exploding. Not only are they bothersome, but they can be carriers for disease. Ever heard of malaria? They’re carriers for the protozoans that cause it, and to this day, they remain a public health concern for the Florida Department of Health.
Admittedly, advances in health care and medicine have greatly reduced the number of fatalities due to malaria, but prevention is still the best cure. So what can you do to help reduce the numbers of mosquitoes in your own back yard?
Chemical repellents are growing less popular over the years as people become more aware of the health risks they can pose. Fortunately, there are a number of plants that naturally repel these pests, and many of them are suitable for growing here in Florida.
If you’ve ever been to the hardware store, you’ve surely seen citronella candles. They do wonderfully in repelling mosquitoes, and the source of citronella is lemongrass. Planting this around your house will not only beautify your yard, it can also provide fresh flavoring for your cooking while keeping the bugs out.
Lemongrass is usually planted as an annual in other parts of the United States, owing to its rather delicate nature, but here in Florida, it can be treated more like a perennial, as long as you’re in Zone 9 or Zone 10. Make sure that you plant it somewhere it can get plenty of sun, has well-drained soil, and plenty of space to spread out. In one season, it can grow up to about four feet in height and three feet wide.
Long-renowned for its sweet scent and delicate flavor, lavender is a wonderful herb that also has naturally repellent properties to combat insect infestations. It’s also been said that lavender does not grow well in highly humid climates, but don’t listen. Lavender can grow wonderfully in Florida’s heat and humidity as long as you keep a few things in mind.
Be sure to provide excellent soil drainage for lavender. Raised beds are great for this. Protect lavender from the extremes of afternoon sun by placing larger plants beside them and provide them with some shade.
Meanwhile, lavender will be a great addition around the doors and entryways of your homes, discouraging insects from going near to those locations.
The sharp-scented oils of mints are despised by mosquitoes, which is great news for anyone who loves this fragrant herb in their teas, desserts, and lamb dishes. However, be forewarned that mint is a highly aggressive plant. If planted directly into the ground, it will spread out and slowly take over everything.
Just grow it in a pot, and you’ll do just fine. Mint is like a weed. It grows anywhere and everywhere, under just about any soil condition. When you harvest your mint, you can extract the oils, and when infused with apple cider vinegar, vodka, or witch hazel, and you can make your own natural, organic mosquito repellent spray.
Delicious when added to meat or vegetables, rosemary is also wonderful when used to repel mosquitoes. This member of the evergreen family prefers dry, rocky, alkaline, well-drained soil, so planting it in beds or large pots is advised here in Florida. They need full sunlight, though, so keep them out of the shade and be prepared for them to grow quite large.
While the plants and cuttings of rosemary will deter the presence of insects, you can make your own infusion to spray over your skin while outdoors. Boil one quart of dried rosemary in a quart of water for about twenty to thirty minutes. Strain the liquid into a large container with another quart of cold water, and chill it in your refrigerator. When you go out, just squirt some on yourself, and discard the repellent when the rosemary scent begins to fade.
A Bonus Way to Reduce Mosquito Populations: Clean your Gutters
Standing water gives mosquitoes plenty of places to breed. Dirty, clogged gutters create lots of little pools of standing water you’ll never see.
While ideally you’d have taken care of this task in the spring, not everyone does. Fortunately you don’t have to get up on the ladder yourself! If you live in Ocala, Land o’Lakes or anywhere else in the Tampa metro area, call Rain Control Gutters. We’ll be happy to clean your gutters for an affordable price.