Bug-Repelling Plants to Have Around Your Barn
Naturally repel bugs by simply planting a few plants that they hate.
By Cari Klostermann, Spring 2017 AQHA Communications and Digital Marketing Intern | May 17, 2018
Warmer weather means being able to comfortably ride your horse outdoors or even take him for a dip in the pond. Unfortunately, it also means all those pesky bugs are waking up from their icy hibernation or returning from their winter vacations down south. Either way, they’re back and picking up right where they left off, being an annoyance.
There are some great products on the shelves to keep the bugs at bay, but what if you didn’t have to worry about them in the first place? Think about history. Our ancestors were not fortunate enough to have name-brand products to spray their horses with or nifty mosquito repelling bracelets to wear. So how did they manage?
The answer is plants. There are several well-known plants that naturally ward off insects while remaining horse friendly. If you place these plants strategically around your barn, arena and house, you may not have to worry about taking a bath in bug spray before you sit on your patio or feed your horses.
Not only does lavender keep insects away, it looks and smells lovely. Lavender grows well in pots or flower beds located where it can receive full sun and have soil with good drainage. While bugs and insects may not be this plant’s greatest fans, it has been known to have calming effects on humans and horses alike.
Only bugs could be upset at the sight of the bright and happy yellow marigold flowers. The plant naturally contains a compound that is used in most commercial bug repellents and can also be used as an herb to treat minor wounds. These plants do best in full sunlight and fertile soil, but keep in mind while finding a place to plant, the yellow flowers and sweet nectar could attract wasps.
Repel insects while keeping your barn cat very happy by planting some catnip around the barn. Studies have shown that the naturally occurring compounds in catnip are just as effective as DEET, but as a member of the mint family, its scent is easier on the nose than the harsh chemical. Plus, its pretty flowers are easy on the eyes. Catnip reaches its full potential in full sunlight and poor soil.
Growing fresh basil is a win win. Basil can help control the mosquito population around your property and leave you with an endless supply of a delicious herb. This herb does best in pots with rich, high-quality soil and plenty of sun.
Rosemary has a natural oil that is pleasant to humans and horses, but mosquitoes hate it. Controlling bugs is just one of rosemary’s beneficial qualities. Research has shown that rosemary contains anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as an anti-microbial. Plant in full sunlight with well-drained soil.
This plant has a tendency to spread and does best when contained to a pot located in full sun with well-drained soil. It has a significant concentration of citronella, which effectively repels mosquitoes and other insects. The citronella aroma is accompanied by a soft lemon scent, making it a wonderful addition around your property. Like basil, this is an herb that is great to add to many dishes in the kitchen.
All of these plants will get the job done without harming your horse. In some cases, the plant can actually improve your horse’s quality of life in more ways than one!
While citronella grass is second to none when it comes to insect repellent, it was not included in this list because it is not safe for your horse to ingest and could cause skin irritation. If you choose to plant citronella, make sure you do so in a sunny area out of your horse’s reach.