By Donna Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors

I haven’t done any planting the last couple of years and really want to get started on something this year. My planting beds need a major makeover, but more than that, I wanted to find something that might help us with a few unwanted guests that we have seen in excess over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, we have had more mosquitos, spiders, stink bugs and mice and I wanted to see if there might be anything to help repel these intruders. Even throughout the winter, we were finding stink bugs in the house. Mice have been spotted in the barn and the garage and we even discovered one in the car. That was really unsettling. Since we live in a fairly wooded area, it is typical to have bugs, spiders and mice, but lately they seem to have invaded and I would like for them to stay as far away from the house as possible.

After doing a bit of research, I found that according to some sources, there are a few plants believed to have mosquito repelling properties. These plants include Citronella which is a well-known mosquito repellent often found in candles, but you can also plant citronella grass. Apparently lavender has a sweet fragrance that mosquitos don’t like. Marigolds contain a natural compound called pyrethrum, which is often used in insect repellents. Catnip is actually said to be more effective than DEET in some studies in deterring mosquitos, and finally lemon balm is a plant that contains a natural compound called citronellal which is also found in citronella.

The following plants are believed to repel spiders. Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Citronella and Lemon Balm are some of those plants. When it comes to repelling stink bugs the list differs somewhat but some of the plants are the same. For stink bugs, a search concluded that catnip is known to repel many types of insects. The strong odor of garlic is one that these bugs dislike. Apparently the leaves of tomato plants contain a natural pesticide called tomatine that can repel stink bugs. Similar to mosquitos, marigolds and mint are also a natural deterrent.

Mice are harder to deter but still dislike some of the same plants listed as the bugs and spiders. This includes the strong smell of peppermint, lavender, and catnip. Also, daffodils are toxic to mice and their scent is said to repel them. Mice also do not like alliums which include garlic, onions and chives. While I know there is no guaranteed solution as far as plants are concerned. I am definitely willing to give it a try. It seems like peppermint, catnip, lemon balm and alliums will be at the top of my shopping list to the greenhouse. Even if these plants don’t repel the unwanted guests, I believe they will at least give the air a nice aroma.