Plants and Plant Based Mosquito Repellents

All Natural Mosquito Deterrents

Natures mosquito repellents are effective at repelling mosquitoes and preventing bites as well as curtailing the spread of diseases which mosquitoes carry. No mosquito repellant is 100% effective, either natural or synthetic ones.

Different types of mosquitoes react to varying stimuli in different ways. Most mosquitoes are active at dawn or dusk, some hunt your blood during daylight.

The mosquito that bites you as you sip your morning coffee is not the same little bugger that sucks your blood by moon light.

Gardeners may also wish to plant mosquito-repelling plants in their yards and gardens and attain favorable results. These results will never be as good as concentrated essentail oils but they are helpful in keeping mosquitoes at bay.

DEET based products are the most popular commercial product used to keep mosquitoes off of you. DEET however has a multitude of issues and side effects, not the least of which is brain damage [2]. Hey – I mean whats a little brain damage so long as get rid of those nasty mosquitoes – right ?

Plants that are considered repellents synthesize one or more of several natural compounds. Pyrethrins, methyl-nonyl-ketone, geraniol, estragole, citronellal, limonene and nerolidol.


There are a gazillion varieties of basil, it’s a fragrant herbaceous plant that is grown by multiple cultures. One purported property of Basil is its ability to repel flies. Growing some basil indoors some say will keep those annoying house flies away. See: Basil Repels Flies

Field studies in Africa found that potted basil provided roughly 40% protection against malaria carrying mosquitoes. Other studies using the essential oils topically showed nearly 100% protection for around 6 hours against yellow fever mosquitoes.

Most Plants that are considered mosquito repellents synthesize one or more of several natural compounds. Pyrethrins, methyl-nonyl-ketone, geraniol, estragole, citronellal, nerolidol and limonene . As it turns out Basil has 4 of these volatile compounds.


Catnip also known as catmint is in the Mint family and has many of the same attributes as other types of Mint.

In the gardening realm it is frequently grown in “tea-gardens” or paired up with up other plants for its qualities as a companion plant. Catnip – the plant – repels some harmful insects , flea beetles in particular but also has some effectiveness on mosquitoes.

The essentail oils form catnip serves as a natural mosquito repellant when applied topically, and your cat, as well as any nearby ferile felines will love you for it.


Citronella is one of the best known mosquito repellants. It is not 100% effective, nothing is. but studies have proven its effectiveness. Ounce for ounce citronella OIL is as effective as Deet [1].

The citronella plant itself is another subject altogether. It is claimed that the plant will repel mosquitoes within a roughly 10-foot radius due to its aromatic oils.

Although research has verified claims regarding concentrated citronella oil it has repeatedly failed to back up claims regarding the plant itself ‘au naturelle’.

Another confusing element of the citronella saga is the fact that there are several distinct species of plants that answer to the name “citronella.”

Close up of the leaves of the scented geranium known as the citronella plant.
The scented geranium species Pelargonium citrosum is often labeled as citronella plant.

Citronella grass is the most popular among home gardeners. It is effective at warding off some insects such as whiteflies.

Close up of green citronella grass.
Grasses from the Cymbopogon genus (aka lemongrass) are true citronella plants and are what are grown for commercial extraction (typically Cymbopogon nardus or Cymbopogon winterianus).

It is also the plant used for to make citronella oil commercially, the oil found in citronella candles, soaps and so forth. Citronella grass by itself however is only mildly repulsive to mosquitoes, only in its synthesized concentrated form can it measure up to commercial products.