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Garden Plants That Repel Biting Bugs

Before you plan your next fete outdoors, here are a few garden ideas that can help you keep bugs at bay.  And you can even add some plants to the menu!

Summer garden with plants that repel biting bugs

Plants that help flavor other vegetables make ideal companion plants, and many also serve as insect deterrents.  Basil is an effective herb that, when planted next to tomatoes, helps the tomato plant produce a fuller, more delectable yield, and basil is also known to repel mosquitos and flies.  It’s delicious when added to many foods that may also include tomato, lemon or other vegetables.


Mint keeps fleas and other insects away from cabbage, squash and tomatoes.  It attracts beneficial insects to your garden and works especially well in repelling ants.  Mint can be highly invasive, so it’s best to contain it in pots.


Lemon Balm is a mint that contains citronella which is useful against mosquitoes when you crush the leaves on your skin.  It’s also a remedy for bloating and can help with indigestion as well, but consult your physician before consuming. Lemon Balm also attracts bees to help pollinate your other vegetables and flowers.  


Garlic is an age-old weapon in the fight against mosquitoes, and it deters other pests as well.  Garlic works because its leaves contain a chemical called allicin which is released whenever the leaves are damaged or broken.  Garlic works great when planted next to lettuce, cabbage and beets but should be kept away from potatoes, peas and legumes like beans.


Cats aren’t the only ones who like catnip – it’s great for repelling mosquitoes.  We don’t know why catnip affects mosquitoes the way that it does, the plant “is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes as DEET, which is used in most commercial insect repellants,” according to  But before you plant catnip, here is a caveat - catnip can self-seed, meaning it can take over an area if not maintained.  It can also grow to 4 feet tall and drives neighborhood cats crazy, so plant it where you can control it. 


Add colorful yellows and oranges to your garden by planting marigold, another tried-and-true mosquito repellant.  The marigold is also useful when planted as a companion to crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and squash because they also repel parasitic aphids and nematodes.


Another favorite of gardeners is lavender, which is among the most versatile and useful of all garden plants.  Not only does it discourage fleas and mosquitoes, but it also attracts bees and butterflies, and it protects your clothing from moths. Lavender flowers smell divine and can also be used as an herb.  A lavender plant takes about three years to root, but once it does, it’s virtually drought resistant. 


By planting any of these biting bug battlers, you’ll be taking huge steps to make your time spent outdoors each year much more enjoyable.


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