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7 Plants That Repel Bugs Naturally, From Mint to Marigolds

Skip the chemical-heavy insect spray in favor of plants that repel bugs naturally. Here, seven options to rid your backyard of pests.

plants that repel bugs mosquitoes
Written by
Samantha Bailon
Published
The natural world has a way of handling things, well, naturally. Which is why it's not surprising that some of the most effective insect repellents aren't on drugstore shelves, but right in your own
backyard
. If you're on the hunt for a cure to your insect issues—whether the critters are wreaking havoc in the garden or on the surface of your skin—these plants that repel bugs are here to help.
Gnats, ants, wasps, mosquitoes—insects may be small, but they're persistent. And though it can be tempting (and effective) to reach for chemical-ridden
insect repellents
, research
has shown
that common insecticide ingredients like DEET can make their way into the groundwater, posing risk to human and environmental health (it's toxic to birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates). In fact, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
, the chemical is one of the most commonly found toxic compounds in the nation's waterways.
So why not stick to natural (and beautiful) remedies? Plants are masters of resilience and, in some cases, the art of repelling. Read on for seven plants that repel bugs—you may just consider adding a few to your
home garden
.

7 Plants That Repel Bugs

1. Basil

plants that repel bugs
While many of us might love the sweet, sharp scent of basil, insects tend to hate it. The delicious, leafy herb has been
proven effective
against mosquitoes and houseflies. Position a pot on your windowsill, plant in your garden, or rub on your skin and enjoy the buzz-less-ness.

2. Lemongrass

This tall, flowy plant is a natural (and
proven
) mosquito and housefly repellent. Lemongrass is closely related to citronella and contains its own citral compound that helps to keep insects at bay. The plant does best in warm, humid areas with full sun.
While lemongrass is commonly imported to the United States, the plant is native to India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, so it may be best to use it topically or for
DIY candles
rather than planting.

3. Marigolds

plants that repel bugs
Marigolds add vibrancy to any garden or home space while keeping mosquitoes, cabbage worms, and other pests out of sight. As a bonus, pollinators like
bees
and
butterflies
love them!

Natural Bug Spray

This natural bug spray is free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. Instead, it uses a unique strain of Indonesian citronella to effectively repel mosquitoes.
Shop All Personal Care

4. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus' strong scent may ease our anxiety, but it aggravates insects and helps to keep them away. The plant is invasive, and if it's not native to the area (which is common), the potency is often perceived as a threat rather than an odorous inconvenience. Pro tip:
lemon eucalyptus oil
makes for the ultimate personal repellent.

5. Bay

plants that repel bugs
Bay leaves can help repel flies, moths, mice, earwigs, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. The fragrant smell and bitter taste of bay leaves function as a bug repellent, an
antifungal
, and, when dried, as a delicious addition to soups and stews.

6. Mint

In keeping with the trend, mint's strong smell helps to
keep the bugs away
. Rub the leaves against your bare skin, invest in an essential oil, or plant the shrub in your garden and say goodbye to unwanted pests (and hello to calming tea)!

7. Chrysanthemums

plants that repel bugs
Chrysanthemums are a powerhouse repellent. This plant’s center is one of few that contains the
neurotoxin pyrethrin
that actually kills insects, making it the ultimate pest assassin. While the blooms are still safe for pets and use in herbal teas, they're not ideal for pollinators.