En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - December 19, 2005

From: Greensboro, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Odor and flavor of oils in Mints as insect repellants
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am trying to find information on "How does mint plants repel insects" It's for my grand daughter's science project. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you

ANSWER:

Most of the species of the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family), when crushed, produce a strong minty odor, usually pleasant to human noses. The odor comes from volatile oils produced by the plants. Here are names for some of these compounds occurring in various species of the mint family: menthol, carvone, linalool, eucalyptol, borneol, estragol, camphor, and many more. Extracts of these compounds from various members of the mint family have been used by humans in cosmetics, to flavor food, for medicinal purposes, to stimulate their pets (catnip, Nepeta cataria) and as insecticides and fungicides. Many plants of the mint family are resistant to browsing by deer and other animal grazers because of the strong odor and flavor produced by the oils. These volatile oils from mint plants repel many insects, function to keep the insects from feeding, and in many cases, when extracted and used as a spray, can result in the death of insects in one or more of the their life stages: adults, larvae, or eggs.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Are dusty millers perennial in Dubuque, IA?
April 24, 2009 - I have dusty millers in my front yard. Last fall I did nothing with them as I wasn't sure if they will return or not. Do the dusty millers continue to grow year after year and should I cut them dow...
view the full question and answer

Choosing the right Coreopsis species for Tennessee
November 28, 2015 - I live in Bristol Tennessee and have replaced most of my lawn with native plants. I have been trying to learn more about the Coreopsis genus. In TN, we have C. auriculata, grandiflora, lanceolata, m...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for beneath a red oak in Lubbock TX
February 23, 2012 - What would you recommend to plant in a two tiered raised bed facing west, totally blocked from the east, thus receiving only the afternoon sun? A 21 year old red oak sits in the middle of the upper ra...
view the full question and answer

Stick with tried and true plants for a green roof in New York
May 12, 2013 - If I use Virginia creepers in a ground covered application for a green roof, how much soil should I provide depth wise?
view the full question and answer

Plants for oak shade from Whitney TX
December 24, 2012 - I live in Whitney, Texas and have a number of beautiful Live Oak trees in a portion of my yard providing deep shade. Asian Jasmine grows in about 5 ft circle around them and then nothing! I have walk ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center