The environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines an Integrated Pest Management program (IPM) as an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common sense approaches. Such a program can be used in non-agricultural settings, such as your backyard. Last week, scientists shared a study which revealed that mosquitoes adapt to the smell of the pesticide DEET after a short exposure of only three hours. And while many of us were already concerned with continued applications of DEET infused pesticides and were seeking alternatives, this latest gives us an opportunity to initiate an IPM and possibly save some money, and maintain good (better) health, while doing so. How, you ask? You do so by introducing natural insect repellent plants into your yard’s environment.
There are many naturally occurring substances that, not only repel mosquitoes, but many other pests as well. Several oils such as citronella, lemon eucalyptus, rosemary, geranium, clove and castor all have properties adverse to the biting insects; and the same holds true for plants that produce the oils, besides. In fact, you’re probably already growing one or more of the more popular varieties. An example, the ever popular Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) contain the ingredient pyrethrum, widely used in many pesticides and have an odor that’s unpleasant to the pests. Likewise, scented geraniums (many varieties) are also a good mosquito repellent and can be utilized to combat beetles and other insects when used as a companion plant in your garden.
Double-duty herbs are a must to jump start any backyard IPM program. More than a few of the most recognized varieties-thyme, rosemary, basil, sage, garlic, clove, eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint-work just as hard for you in your kitchen as they do for you in your garden. You might want to plant some in containers leading up to your front door or on your patio out back. Herbs can also be dried out, placed in sachets and left in strategic locations inside your home. Experiment with the many different varieties and find the ones most suited for your environment. It’s easy to do, it’s fun and it might provide you some relief once you really start to crank up your grill this summer.
Insect Repellent Plant Websites
Well Sweep Herb Farm
Territorial Seed Company – Lemon Grass
Territorial Seed Company – Sweet Basil
Territorial Seed Company – Herb Catalog
Spring Hill Nursery – Geranium Mix
Natural Insect Repellent Websites
Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent
The Daily Green – Off-the-shelf and Homemade Natural Insect Repellents
About.com Chemistry – Natural Insect Repellent Recipe
Earth Easy – Natural Pest Control
Web MD – Natural Bug Repellents
For more info: Integrated Pest Management Principles