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Growing mosquito repellent plants in areas/homes/workplaces to prevent the spread of the Zika virus

Small initiatives of growing indoor/outdoor plants is a sustainable, scalable, affordable and organic way to keep away mosquitoes

Photo of Lou-Ann C

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Instead of using harmful pesticides, insecticides or bug sprays, we should encourage the use of natural, organic methods to keep mosquitoes at bay. 

There are certain plants which repel mosquitoes, using their fragrance. Plant these plants or use the natural/essential oils extracted from them to keep away mosquitoes.

Most of these plants thrive in warm climates, are low-maintenance, and some are drought resistant. They also have a beautiful fragrance, which is another motivating factor to grow them, unlike bug sprays or insecticides. 

Examples of mosquito repellent plants:

- Citronella grass

- Lemon grass

- Tulsi (Holy Basil)

- Eucalyptus

- Catmint

- Rosemary

- Basil

- Lavender


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bahenda Joseph

Thank you Lou-Ann C for sharing.  This could constitute an adequate solution if they really possess the virtue to  repel mosquitoes.

Photo of Lou-Ann C

Thanks Bahenda. If planted in large quantities, I do believe they would repel mosquitoes

Photo of Bahenda Joseph

Hi Lou-Ann C,
Thank you  for your reply. I hope you are aware of this sentence by USAID and OpenIDEO: "And remember, our focus in the Research phase is inspiration, not new solutions. If you do have a solution, head over to the Ideas phase to post it!"

Best Regards,


Photo of Deborah Nyambu

Very good idea, Lou Ann.  Some of the plants mentioned work as herbal spices and many households could use them in their kitchens as well.

Photo of Lou-Ann C

Thanks Deborah. Yes, basil works as a herb too.

Photo of Darin Mint

That is a great idea! There are also certain plants which are easy to grow and it is better at repelling mosquitoes than chemicals.

Photo of Lou-Ann C

Yes Darin, most of the mosquito repellent plants don't require high maintenance

Photo of Janice Campbell

Because vector populations are huge and widespread, a multi-pronged approach to prevention should be considered. Using locally-native plants with repellent characteristics is an important preventative measure. Good idea!

Photo of Lou-Ann C

Yes Janice, good point! Locally native mosquito repellent plants should be used (ideally), as it would be cheaper and they can thrive in their own natural environment. A multi-pronged approach is definitely wiser.

Photo of Minh Nguyen

Hey Lou-Ann C , check out Ryan Christøph and 雅楠 孙 post below that reminded about your post. Have there been studies that you all know of that shows the effectiveness of these natural methods?

Photo of Lou-Ann C

Thanks Minh for sharing the posts. I havent come across scientific studies which show the effectiveness - will have to dig them out. But, I do know that there indeed exist mosquito repellent plants/essential oils extracted from them

Photo of Minh Nguyen

That's a great point that the repellent plants and essential oils extracted from them. Do you know of companies or organizations that distribute seeds/plants? I am wondering how to lift this idea off the ground. It seems like a grand opportunity assuming its effectiveness. 

Photo of Lou-Ann C

You could buy them from your local nursery or online from Amazon. Citronella mosquito repellent is available in stores (you will have to check whether the essence is extracted from the plant or whether it is synthetically generated). Essential oils can be found in aromatherapy stores (again check for purity/authenticity)

Photo of Janice Campbell

Research should also be done on whether introducing a non-native species of plant might cause an undesired impact to local species.