1. Plants and Pests: What they attract and what they keep away!

DECEMBER 09 2021 /

Plants and Pests: What they attract and what they keep away!

Many people are probably aware that the plants they have growing around their house can attract or repel certain bugs, insects and birds, but you may not know which plants attract or repel which insects.


Repellant Plants

If you have delicate plants that are continually plagued by insects, or are just looking for ways to reduce the insect population around your home, there may be ways you can lessen their presence.

For example, to protect insect-bitten foliage consider planting lavender, rosemary, or thyme in close proximity to your other plants.

These plants contain strong oils that many insects prefer to stay away from. The EPA maintains a Plant Oils Fact Sheet that lists plant oils and what they repel.

Catnip is not something that you might think of when planting your garden, but it has been shown to repel insects such as mosquitoes, termites, cockroaches, house flies, ants, and Japanese beetles.

Also, according to the US Department of Agriculture, common flowers such as geraniums, petunias, and marigolds can repel beetles and other bugs.


Plants That Attract

If you are looking to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to plants around your home, keep in mind that they feed on nectar-producing plants such as butterfly bushes, sedum, honeysuckle bushes, verbena, and bee balm.

Hummingbirds especially like bright-colored plants. Agastache is another good plant with many varieties that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

While hummingbirds and butterflies are enjoyable to look at, there are other plants that attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and hover flies.

Beneficial insects are insects that eat other, unwanted insects. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has published a “Wanted: Alive” poster listing some beneficial insects and why you want to have them around.

So what are some plants that attract beneficial insects?

Sunflowers, mint, and aster families (coneflowers, daisies, corepsis, yarrow) of plants attract predatory wasps and parasitoid flies such as hover flies.

Hover flies (or syrphid flies) are one of only a few insects known to feed primarily upon nectar and digest pollen but will also feed on the honeydew of aphids.

Mint is an unusual plant in that it not only attracts beneficial insects, but repels many unwanted insects as well.

If you are interested in other tips on pesticide alternatives to pest prevention, check out this publication from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.