mosquitoesAs summer continues in full swing, people continue to head outside to take advantage of the great weather. However, that also means encountering summer’s most annoying pest: mosquitoes. As if itchy bites were not aggravating enough, mosquitoes also bring along the possibility of serious health concerns, such as West Nile virus and the ever-increasing Zika virus.

While many over-the-counter bug repellants are helpful in keeping mosquitoes from taking a nibble on your skin, there also are some all-natural ways to keep mosquitoes at bay. To help you repel mosquitoes nautrally, the garden experts at Pike Nurseries offer up these easy-to-follow tips.

Eliminate standing water

 According to the folks at Pike Nurseries, the best way to reduce mosquitoes is to remove any standing water sources, which is where they lay their eggs. To clear out all potential mosquito breeding grounds, clean and refill bird baths regularly and check the entire yard for stagnant water, turning over empty pots, lids, tin cans and other containers to ensure they do not collect water.

Grow mosquito-repellent plants

There are a variety of easy-growing plants that repel mosquitoes naturally with strong scents from essential oils, say the Pike Nurseries garden experts. Incorporating these around the garden and home not only deter unwanted insect invaders, but also make attractive additions to the landscape. Top plants to ward off mosquitoes include:

citronella mosquitoesCitrosa (Citronella) Scented Geranium – This geranium, often called “the mosquito plant,” produces a citronella scent when its leaves are touched or crushed. The fragrance stems from the plant’s citronella oil, which is the main ingredient for many repellents. Plant this geranium in full to partial sun spots around the patio or in flower pots to help create a natural barrier against mosquitoes.

Lemongrass – Like the geranium, lemongrass also contains citronella oil. This pretty, nearly lime-colored grass grows best in average, well-drained soil and full sun. In addition to repelling pesky mosquitoes, lemongrass has a tasty lemon flavor that is perfect in tea, lemonade or other summertime recipes.

Lavender – Lavender is a flowering, fragrant herb that belongs to the mint family. While many people enjoy the smell of lavender oil as a wonderful calming aroma, it also repels mosquitoes and keeps bugs away. Once established, this plant is very tough, drought-resistant and only needs full sun and proper drainage. A beautiful addition to any garden, lavender also can be used to add fragrance to the home and in recipes for enhanced flavor.

Use well-placed citronella candles

As mentioned earlier, citronella oil is a very popular mosquito repellant, so place some citronella candles and lanterns around your patio or deck to create a barrier against these pests. Also available in tiki torches, citronella candles are a great way to add ambience to your outdoor space while keeping mosquitoes away.