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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 18, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Medicinal Plants
Title: Plants good for repelling bugs in Austin, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need help on what type of plants or herbs are good for keeping bugs away from the house and also something that would be good for in the house for bugs?

ANSWER:

Most plants have characteristics to attract insects to be pollinators rather than repel them. There are those, however, that do repel at least some insects. Generally, they require that the foliage of the plant be crushed to release the aromatic properties that repel insects. Here are the native North American plant species that are listed as Natural Insect Repellent Plants:

Nicotiana attenuata (coyote tobacco or mountain tobacco)

Gymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky coffeetree)

Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) [synnonym = Acacia robinia]

Maclura pomifera (osage orange)

Hedeoma pulegioides (American false pennyroyal) [synonym = Mentha pelugium]

Erigeron speciosus (aspen fleabane)

The following two are listed in the University of Michigan Native American Ethnobotany database as insect repellents:

Artemisia dracunculus (tarragon)

Rhus trilobata (skunkbush sumac)

 

 

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