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25 Investigates: Experts say having the right plants can keep many biting insects away

Mosquito Plant
Posted at 4:29 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 10:26:36-04

STILLHOUSE HOLLOW LAKE — "The incidence of vector-borne diseases has doubled," says Dr, Tracy McNamara, of the Western University for Health Sciences.

That fact has a lot of us on guard lately against our number one vector, disease-carrying mosquitos.

"Anything, mosquito spray, I slap them as much as I can. We've got a mosquito killer in our backyard that draws them in and kills them around our back porch, does it work, it works," explained Steven Sewell of Temple.

He and his friends take care on their long bike rides and their biggest defense? Peddling faster than the bugs can fly.

"We have a creek that runs behind our house with some standing water, and we go down to Belton feed and get these little things that you put water in that attracts them, and then we put off on or we go out to prevent and then we have those little candles," said fellow cyclist Rod Houston, of Belton.

Zappers, decoys, they all work along with a little protection.

"Dark is when they come out. I've usually got long sleeves and long pants on and put a little off around my neck, keep them off my neck," said Frank Jennings, another cyclist from Belton.

All to protect us from a species that comes in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins.

America has about 250 different species of mosquitos flying its friendly skies. Of that, Texas has 85 of them and the 3 most dangerous mosquitos when it comes to spreading disease? Yep, we got ‘em!

And while bug sprays take the top spot on most of our mosquito protection lists, some items from your local nursery, keep growing in popularity.

"I've had some people buy multiples at a time and when I say multiples I mean, in the tins. They buy them in excess, I mean, They work so why not, right?" said Christina Clark, of Westview Nursery in Waco.

Clark, a future Ag teacher says what makes lemongrass, basil, catnip, and mint work all lies on the inside.

"What's in these plants that makes mosquitoes hate 'em? Well really, it is just the oil that is inside the plant," she explained.

The list goes on: Lavender, sage, rosemary, garlic, scented geraniums, chrysanthemums and the granddaddy of them all - Citronella.

You'll have to do a little work to make them work for you.

"So you'll have your plants, just take up a few leaves, crush them, rub it on your skin and it's essentially like a candle, minus the mess. You can smell it very good. So that's how to use these plants instead of the spray. Yes. Does it work? It does." she explained

Giving our biker friends, Jennings, Sewell and Houston a better-smelling alternative for their bike breaks in a mosquito season that more of us have started wondering about.

"With all the rain that we had. Do I worry about how bad this mosquito season is gonna be? Now I do now that you mention it, I hadn't thought about that before," said Sewell.

Now that he has begun thinking about it, he hopes we do, too, and maybe use some of that standing water around the house, to plant some lemongrass or a chrysanthemum.