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Mosquito Management in the Garden
Friday, 7 February 2014

It would be impossible in this climate and location to have a totally mosquito free garden all year round, but there are a number of strategies that you can employ to reduce and lower their numbers. Unless of course you are completely surrounded by rice paddies, in which case you�d better move! Before you think about plants there are some simple practical measures that you should take that will have a significant impact on reducing mosquito populations within your garden.

Control mosquitoes by destroying their habitat and breeding sites. Consistent garden maintenance will help to reduce their numbers as mosquitoes prefer damp and shady overgrown areas. Prune overgrown trees to let in more sunlight and allow for better air circulation throughout the garden.

Tall grass and weeds provide hiding places for adult mosquitoes, so make sure to keep the lawn neat and trimmed. The most important of all maintenance tasks is to remove sources of still or stagnant water where they will definitely lay their eggs. Remove any unused containers that are collecting water (old buckets, children’s toys, etc.), as the mosquitoes only need a depth a few millimeters to breed. Drain your plant trays that collect water, as this is often the number one breeding site.

Clean and refill pet drinking water daily. lf you keep a water feature or pond stock it with mosquito eating fish such as minnows and goldfish, and-install an aerator to keep the water moving.

Once the garden is maintained then you can start thinking about your plants. There are many plants that you can grow that will help to repel mosquitoes, I will try to keep it to the list that are most effective and readily available.

Citronella – Cybopogon nardus / Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates)

Citronella grass is my number one recommended plant as a mosquito repellant, the mosquito fighters friend is a must as part of any reduction strategy. Aperennial, clumping grass which grows to a height of2 meters, it can be grown in garden beds or pots, and will tolerate some shade. lt is a close relative to lemongrass and looks very similar, the most notable difference being the red hue at the base of citronella stems. Ideally it should be positioned in the background, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs, but is also attractive in pots placed around seating areas. This is the species used for the production of citronella oil, which is used abundantly in commercial insect repellent sprays and candles, even in aromatherapy. This should be easy to find in Indonesia, known as Serai wangi, it became very popular as a house plant during a dengue fever outbreak a few years ago. It is often planted in villas and hotel gardens for the same reason.

Citronella oil is the most common natural ingredient used in producing mosquito repellents. The essential oil itself doesn’t kill the mosquitoes but effectively deters them from the general area. Afew plantings of citronella in the garden will make a noticeable difference. Also try planting citronella in pots which can be moved around outdoor living areas, especially if your garden beds are covered in shade. Brush the citronella grass to more effectively release its scent. If you can’t find citronella then lemongrass will do, as it also contains citronella oil, and you can also use it for cooking and to make a refreshing herbal tea. Lemon balm (Melissa ofhcinalis)  is another common plant that contains citronella oil and is thus also effective at deterring mosquitoes. The leaves also have many culinary uses.

Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis

A natural mosquito repellant, with a very strong scent. ll is easy to grow tolerates drought, and can survive on moist ocean air alone! It is an inexpensive and addition to the landscape and will repel mosquitoes at the same time. You can also crush a few leaves and rub on your skin and clothing as a topical repellant, that will also keep the pests away from you!

Marigolds – Calendula officinalis

Marigolds are used by some to repel aphids, though it has been discovered that they are also powerful mosquito repellent plants. Mosquitoes apparently dislike the scent, so clumps planted around the garden beds or in planter boxes will help. Marigolds contain pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents sprays and creams. Potted marigolds can be positioned common mosquito entry points such as open windows.

Catnip – Nepeta cateria

This is one of the most  powerful mosquito repellant plants available. Scientific research shows that nepetalactone, (tho essential oil found in catnip), is more affective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes.  A relative of common mint, catnip is quick to spread, and it will grow anywhere in shade or sunlight, with minimal care. While catnip will repel mosquitoes in close proximity to the plant, some people  apply crushed catnip leaves to the skin lin more complete protection.

Other plants that would be useful to repel mosquitoes include Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Lavmiiler (Lavandula angustifolia), the Neem Tree (Azadiraclila indica), Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) and Basil (Ocinium basillicum). All of these plants are useful and will grow in a wide range of conditions, so it’s simply a matter of izlioosing what suits you, though I will say that citronella or lemongrass is a must!

For the greater effect you should position mosquito repellant plants around outdoor entertaining areas. They can be either planted in the ground, or in pots, placed airound seating and added as a feature on tabletops. Mosquitoes love to hide in the still air beneath outdoor furniture wliure they can attack legs, ankles and feet, so the closer tho plants the better the deterrent! Also use potted plants neair entrances such as the front and back doors, and also on window ledges, to keep them out ofthe house. Most importantly remember to keep your garden clear of any further breeding opportunities. Without regular garden maintenance any repellant plantings may simply be in vain!

Information from Garden Doctor ( Dr. Kris : dr.kris@ymail.com )

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