published Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Pest-preventing plants: Some species repel mosquitoes, fleas, other critters

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Five Flowers for Natural Pest Control

* Borage. Deters hornworms and cabbage worms and can be used as an herb for teas, tinctures and leafy green recipes.

* Chrysanthemums. They contain pyrethin, which is toxic to insects but safe for human and animal consumption. You can also make a tea from the flowers and use it on root nematodes and to repel Japanese beetles.

* Clover. Use it around cabbage to prevent cabbageworm and aphids from taking hold.

* Lavender. Used to repel fleas, moths, mosquitoes and other common pests. It’s also pretty and is used in everything from potpourri to tea and baked goods to frosting. And it smells good.

* Marigolds. Use the scented varieties of marigolds to deter pests. The French Marigold variety, for example, is recommended for keeping whiteflies away from tomatoes, and marigolds also protect the health of the soil under the plants.



Basil: (aphids)

Chives: (aphids)

Garlic: (aphids)

Catnip: (aphids)

Nasturtium: (aphids)

Spearmint: (aphids)

Want to keep those pesky mosquitoes away, but don’t want to empty a can of repellent around or on you while you enjoy these unseasonably cool days and nights on the porch?

Try keeping a little lemongrass or citrosa in a pot in the area. The trick might be finding it them this time of year, however.

“We sell them mostly in the spring,” says Denise Brown with Fiddleheads Garden Center in Dalton, Ga. “If you can find some, it will still work.”

The perennial plants grow about two feet in height, and will last until the first frost, she says. “Most people who buy them put them on the porch or the deck.”

Certain plants have long been used as an organic means to keep pests such as hornworms and mosquitoes out of gardens and away from humans. Citrosa, a plant with similar properties to citronella candles, and lemongrass are believed to be a mosquito repellent, for example. Chives, nasturtium, basil, spearmint, garlic and catnip are believed to repel aphids, those pesky bugs that enjoy gnawing on rose bushes and flowering plants like squash, beans lettuce and pumpkins.

While farmers and gardeners swear by these remedies, Hamilton County Extension Agent Tom Stebbins, says he has seen no studies proving that they do work.

“I can’t tell you scientifically that it works,” he says. “There are lots of old wives tales.”

However, he adds, we’ve had a reprieve in the weather this summer, meaning gardeners can get an early start on their fall plantings and, if folks want to plant chrysanthemums to repel Japanese beetles or lavender to ward off fleas and mosquitoes, go ahead. If nothing else, the garden will be pretty, he says.

And there are other things you can do in your yard that are proven to keep away certain pests, Stebbins says. Pruning back trees that are low hanging or thick allows air and sunlight to get in, removing places where bugs like to live.

You should also be vigilant in getting rid of places that allow for standing water. Buckets, clogged gutters and flower pot pans that sit outside are perfect places for water to gather, which is where mosquitoes like to lay eggs.

And Stebbins suggests another way to battle mosquitoes: Bats. He suggests buying a commercial bat house or, if you have a dead tree that isn’t likely to fall on your house, leave it for the bats to take refuge in.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree or 423-413-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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