Eye On Life Magazine

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Eye on Life Magazine is a Lifestyle and Literary Magazine.  Enjoy articles on gardening, kitchen cooking, poetry, vintage decor, and more.

Mosquito Control Garden

My line in the sandy soil of Florida has been drawn.  It's "game-on mosquitoes," as I reapply an ointment to relieve the itch on the baseball-sized welt on my arm that kept waking me up last night.   It's not just that I'm extremely allergic to insect bites.  It's also the fear I feel when I read the warnings issued in our county about still another dangerous variety of mosquito.  Another unwanted insect tourist who has come to stay in paradise, with still another nasty new mosquito disease to worry about.

Sometimes a gardener has to declare a small private war on the pests that can invade our outdoor environment and depending upon where you live on this planet.  For most of us, the most hated enemy is likely universally going to be the mosquito.  This insect vector of diseases has killed more people than all the wars on earth put together.  Each day, three thousand people die somewhere in the world just from a mosquito bite exposure to several deadly diseases.  Our pets, farm animals, and live stock all suffer and die from this disease carrying member of the fly family too.  

Gardening On A Grand Scale

Finally, the only effective way for a mosquito control garden or landscape to actually work is to really think about what your garden design has space for and to do it in a big way.  The more plants who act as insect barriers, the less mosquitoes will find your property attractive.  Less mosquitoes will also mean less of other numbers of insect pests who share the same taste bud aversion for these plants.  

A seasonal unwanted guest in many a garden, the danger of not having adequate mosquito control can ruin any chances of a gardener or their loved ones enjoying being outdoors -- at the very times of the year when your property is meant to be enjoyed.  Suppose I were to tell you that:  

"There is a choice beyond "eau Deet" being your perfume of choice or poisoning your environment with chemicals."

Mosquito Control

Traditionally, we will all want to make other choices in mosquito control, especially if we have made the move to only organic in our gardens.  Yes, light colored clothing will be donned and our shirts will be tucked in.  Short of a fishing trip to the salt flats, long sleeves and long pants in tropical weather or extreme hot weather, probably isn't going to happen.  However,  all possible sources of standing water right down to a lost bottle cap will be found and emptied.  Yes, we agree on the rule about no standing water.  We've bought citronella candles, mosquito coils, mosquito cakes,  yellow bug lights, and netting again this season.  Some of us will even resort to inviting our bat friends as permanent house guests.  We will continue to use all these useful weapons.  But some suggestions like -- staying indoors at sunrise, early evening, and sunset isn't always possible or practical.  

Of course, most people have seen or heard of planting mosquito plants only to discover that while this can help a little in the nearby vicinity -- it isn't effective.  A quick internet search will lead you to the conclusion that there is not much scientific proof that planting certain plants will effectively help control these ravenous insects that are the bane of every outdoor enthusiast or gardener.  However, that's because most people mistakenly think that having a few strategically placed plants that are unfriendly to mosquitoes plants will do the job.  The truth is, you are thinking like a fisherman trying to catch fish with a tiny fish tank net in too big of a pond from the shoreline.

Declaring Your Garden A No-Mosquito Zone

If you don't want to resort to the extreme of harmful and expensive chemicals to get rid of mosquitoes like many theme park and public places do -- then it's time to get off the shoreline, wade out into the deep water trenches, and declare war on mosquitoes by making your property a "no mosquito zone."  Think of the area that you wish to commune with nature in as like the site of your own personal "fort."  Build the walls of your invisible fortress with mosquito repelling trees, shrubs, plants, and herbs.

Designing Your Mosquito Control Garden

Further internet searches will initially give you the impression that there are only a few choices of plants that mosquitoes avoid.  If you limited yourself to them, it would be a pretty boring garden or landscaping design.  Obviously a few plants here and there, aren't going to make a dent in the sheer numbers of these pests who will pay you a visit.  After all, you wouldn't want to plant an entire yard in citronella.  Or fill a yard full of catnip (which would give you some new problems to wage war upon).  Article after article will keep naming the following plants:  

  • Citronella
  • Lavender
  • Marigolds
  • Ageratum
  • Bee Balm (Horsemint)
  • Dill
  • Garlic

These are not your only choices.  The truth is you have over fifty documented mosquito hated plants, shrubs, herbs, and trees to create your mosquito free property.  If you fill your space with a variety of them your garden or yarn can be not only attractive, inexpensive, but give you a mosquito free zone.  All a mosquito control garden takes is some planning -- which is true of any garden or landscape.  

Mosquito Deterrent Plants, Shrubs, Herbs, and Trees

The Neem Tree

Mature Neem Tree

Mature Neem Tree

With over fifty choices in mosquito weaponry for creating such an environment, let's talk about some of them, starting with insect deterrent trees.  The most well-known of the mosquito (and other insect) repelling tree is the Neem Tree.  It's a fast growing evergreen tree that grows tall.  It generally reaches maturity within ten years.  It is a good looking tree that resembles it's tree relative, the Chinaberry.  It's a bisexual tree that has wonderful drooping inflorescence  white flowers, and a olive shaped drupe fruit.  It is also easily grown from seed.

In terms of being a mosquito and insect barrier tree, the shade giving Neem tree is versatile in its uses.  You'll want to carefully consider planting location since this tree will long outlive you, with a lifespan of one-hundred and fifty to two-hundred years.  Consider placing a Neem tree approximately six feet from every entrance to your home for optimum insect control near where people and pets would be going in and out.  Neem trees thrive in morning sun sites.  You can also plant them 13 feet x 6 1/2 feet apart if planting as a windbreak or fence line; or no closer than 6 1/2 feet apart to another neem tree.  Neem trees like well drained and sandy soils but can thrive under a variety of conditions.  It's not for climates whose weather falls below 39 degrees F and is best in tropical or semi-tropical regions.   It will not tolerate over-watering.

Aside from indirectly interrupting the mosquito and other insect life cycles, the Neem tree causes the a number of insects to starve and prevents egg hatching.  So it's also useful against ants, beetles, grasshoppers, aphids, aphids, locusts, fruit flies, scale, spider mites, and other leaf hoppers.  It's leaves can be harvested and used in the garden as fertilizer and natural insect control.  The dried leaves can be placed in cupboards, drawers, in clothes, in stored grains and rice -- all deter insects indoors.  Burning the leaves will quickly chase off mosquitoes and this insect control is useful for before a large party or outdoor event.

The Wax Myrtle Tree/Shrub 

Mature Wax Myrtle tree that has been grown as a shrub.

Mature Wax Myrtle tree that has been grown as a shrub.

Another good mosquito repelling tree choice is the wax myrtle which can be grown as a tree or as a shrub.  Wax Myrtles are perfect for patios, children's play areas, outdoor seating areas, and picnic areas.  They make wonderful hedges for screening off such areas.  

The Cadaga Tree and The Mindanao Gum Tree

Mature Mindanano Gum tree (aka Rainbow tree)

Mature Mindanano Gum tree (aka Rainbow tree)

If your property is large and you enjoy attracting wildlife, also consider planting a Cadaga Tree or the Mindanao Gum Tree.  Both are very tall trees meant for full sun to partial shade or full sun.  Both are great landscaping additions in addition to mosquito control. However, these trees won't just grow anywhere, so unless you live in Hawaii or Australia, they may not be your best choice.

The Red-Flowering Gum Tree

Red Flowering Gum tree

Red Flowering Gum tree

If you are seeking a dramatic garden or landscaping tree that is also mosquito control, consider the Red-Flowering Gum Tree.  It's very drought tolerant.  It has wonderful fragrant, dramatic in bloom, and also attracts wildlife while repelling insects.  

The Osage Orange Tree

Mature Osage Orange trees make good fence rows.

Mature Osage Orange trees make good fence rows.

This great small to medium dioecious tree will require planting at least two, one female and one male.  Native to Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, the Osage Orange Tree is valued for easy transplant, tolerance of poor soils, tolerance of extreme heat, and strong winds.  This is the perfect living fence that is also a mosquito and insect controller.  When pruned into a hedge it is virtually impenetrable by livestock and other critters.


Other Mosquito Tree and Shrub Choices

There are a number of insect repellant trees to consider in your initial garden or landscaping design.  Among them are:  Camphor Tree, Sassafras Tree, Silver Dollar Tree, Tauroniro Tree, Tea Tree, and Cedar Trees.  Each of them should be looked at to see if they fit in your garden design.   Don't forget to include shrub and bushes that mosquitoes don't like, such as the:  American Beauty Berry, Sagebrush, Snowbush, Ash Juniper, and Wormwood.

Herbs As Repellants

Every good gardener or cook loves an herb garden.  Besides planting your favorite herbs, try adding:  basil, bee balm (horse mint), dill, fever tea, rosemary, garlic, oregano, peppermint, clove, lemon thyme, and vanilla leaf as still another layer of natural insecticide.  They also work in your flower gardens for added interest visually too.

Garden Plants As Natural Insecticides

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Think about designing your garden with an abundance of marigolds (French, Mexican, Pot Marigolds, or African) in all hues of glorious color.  Add other plants like: Lavender, Ageratum, Lemon Scented Verbena, Pitcher Plants, Citrosa, Chrysanthemums, Common Lantana, Sweet Ferns, and the Pyrethrum Daisy.   They also make great companion plants in your vegetable garden.