En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - February 08, 2010

From: Arlington, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Best of Smarty, Pests
Title: Need bug repelling plants in Arlington, VA
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

What kind of plants are best bug repellents, and need little or no maintenance. I'm a city girl and don't like bugs (spiders)

ANSWER:

Dear Miss Muffet,

You may be relieved to learn that spiders eat "bugs." In fact, most of their diet consists of insects. The report that they favor curds and whey is an urban myth that has been perpetuated by Mother Goose among others. There are also insects (digger wasps) that carry off spiders in order to provision their nests so that their developing larvae can have something to eat. So you might say its a bug eat bug world out there.

There are numerous plants that are said to be insect repellent, and some of the active ingredients,  e.g. pyrethrins, are extracted and used as insecticides. The short list below contains some of the more often mentioned insect repellent plants, however, they are non-natives and there are no entries for them in our Native Plant Database.

Marigolds (Calendula officinalis) (Images)

Lavender (Lavandula sp)   (Images)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) (Images)

Citronella (Cymbopopgon nardus(Images)

Basil (Ocimum basillicumImages

Believing that "the best defense is a good offense", Mr. Smarty Plants is suggesting three plants which occur in your state that might help keep the bugs at bay; Venus flytrap Dionaea muscipula (Venus flytrap), Pitcherplant Sarracenia flava (yellow pitcherplant), and Sundew plant Drosera brevifolia (dwarf sundew).

 

From the Image Gallery


Gila manroot
Marah gilensis

Yellow pitcherplant
Sarracenia flava

Dwarf sundew
Drosera brevifolia

More Best of Smarty Questions

Using Bumelia for Firewood
February 25, 2011 - I have 2 trees in my yard that I think are Gum Bullies. They're tall (25 feet) and straight, thorny, leaves look like live oak, but they're deciduous. I need to remove them and wondered if I could...
view the full question and answer

Leaves turning brown in Fredonia KS
June 16, 2009 - Leaves turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Plants that might absorb moisture from air
February 27, 2007 - I am searching for a plant that will reduce the relative humidity of a building. I work for a manufacturing company that is experiencing problems with water condensing on ceilings and equipment due t...
view the full question and answer

Bees knees squeezing
May 28, 2010 - Barbara, Do the knees of bees help them squeeze if they please their wobbly, bobbly, knobbly balls of pollen?
view the full question and answer

Mowing Bluebonnets
March 20, 2004 - When is it safe to mow Bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center