The weather is turning warmer and the outdoors beckons. But, with warm temperatures come bugs and insects that can bother you and your family, and even munch on your garden and plants. Instead of reaching for the can of bug repellent or insecticide, consider using these herbs as a natural fix either planted in your yard or garden, or grow them in containers to move them around the patio and yard as you need them.

1. Mint

Mint will repel ants, fleas, moths, beetles, aphids and mice – which will help keep your dog healthy, too. Caution: cats love mint, so plant it where you don’t mind them hanging out. Once you plant it, it will grow every season, and even take over a bit of your garden, so plan accordingly, or plant in a container.

Use the leaves for mint tea, cooking Moroccan-inspired dishes, and for mojitos or mint juleps to cool off in the summer heat.

Mint

 

2. Basil

Basil is so useful, and keeps mosquitoes and flies away – so you won’t have them buzzing toward you as you head out to the garden to pick some tomatoes to go into your salad with the basil and some fresh mozzarella cheese. There are many different scents, so experiment with what you like.

Basil

 

3. Bay Leaves

What a relief to know you can keep roaches away with bay leaves, and then use the dried leaves in stock for soups and stews, or use as the basis of an herb wreath.

Bay Leaves

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4. Catnip

Not only will your cats love it, but a mixture of catnip and rosemary can make a spray or oil to ward off mosquitoes. Add some lemon balm to boost the potency.

Catnip

 

5. Lemon Balm

In addition to adding it to your mosquito repellent, you can brew tea to relieve stress.

Lemon Balm

 

6. Dill

Not just for Grandma’s pickles, dill will scare off aphids, squash bugs and spider mites. Use the fresh stuff on salmon when you grill or bake it, or in dips.

Dill

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7. Lavender

Adding beauty to a garden or yard as well as fragrant functionality, lavender repels moths, fleas and flies, including mosquitoes. Dry it and use it in little cloth bags as sachets in your drawers, or fill a rectangular piece of cloth for a soothing eye pillow.

Lavender

 

8. Rosemary

Another hardy herb, once you plant it, it will grow nearly year round in milder climates, and then reappear each spring. Use it to repel cabbage loopers, carrot flies, slugs, snails and the Mexican bean beetle. Add some sprigs to flower arrangements (it means “rememberance“), and you can use the hardy stalks as skewers on the grill, in meat dishes (particularly lamb), and even throw some on hot coals for an aromatic grill.

Rosemary

 

9. Thyme

Shoo away the cabbage looper, cabbage maggot, corn earworm, whiteflies and tomato hornworm with this herb. Use it in poultry or seafood dishes when you want to take them in a Greek or Italian direction. It’s also great when making Provencal dishes like ratatouille.

Thyme

 

10. Garlic

Say goodbye to a host of pests when you plant garlic including aphids, the Japanese beetle, carrot flies, codling moths, snails, root maggots, cabbage loopers, the Mexican bean beetle, peach tree borers and rabbits. Use fresh garlic to add depth and flavor to just about any dish: soup stocks, sauces, crushed fresh for bruschetta and in marinades.

Garlic

 

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