What Are The Plants That Repel No-See-Ums?

Bill Swank
Last updated: February 27, 2024

Trying to enjoy your outdoor spaces but fed up with those pesky no-see-ums biting at every turn? Sure, commercial insect repellents are available, but what if you could strategically add some plants to your space and naturally keep these annoying insects at bay?

In this article, we’ll dive into the best plants to help you ward off no-see-ums, understand how they work, and explore other strategies to effectively control these unwelcome guests. Let’s join forces with Mother Nature to usher these pests out of your relaxing areas!

  • Various plants such as citronella grass, camphor trees, marigolds, lavender, lemongrass, catnip, mint, and others are effective in repelling no-see-ums due to their strong fragrances which the insects find unbearable.
  • The essential oils found in these plants like citronellal, geraniol, eugenol, linalool, nepetalactone, and terpinen-4-ol can effectively ward off no-see-ums by masking human scent and creating a protective ‘bubble’ that deters the pests.
  • Citronella, in particular, is effective at repelling no-see-ums. Its essential oil, citronellal, masks the human scent, making it harder for these pests to locate their targets. Various citronella products like plants, candles, and infused oils can be used.
  • Besides plants and essential oils, other commercial repellents and simple actions like wearing long-sleeved clothing, using window and door screens, limiting outdoor activities during dawn and dusk can help repel no-see-ums effectively.
  • Recognizing the most effective repellent can depend on personal preferences, the intensity of the no-see-um problem, and personal experiences. A mix of the methods listed can often provide greater effectiveness in repelling no-see-ums and other pests.

Table of Contents

What Are No-See-Ums, and Why Repel Them?

What are no-see-ums, and where are they commonly found?

No-see-ums, scientifically known as Ceratopogonidae, belong to a family of small midges (biting flies). As their nickname suggests, these pests are so tiny that they often go unnoticed until after they’ve bitten you. These creatures are widespread, yet, they are likely to frequent regions with warmer climates, such as Florida.

What problems are associated with no-see-ums?

The primary issue with no-see-ums is their inflammatory bite. Despite their small size, these insects’ bites can result in large, itchy welts that can turn your outdoor adventure into a discomforting experience. Unlike mosquitoes, which merely puncture the skin, no-see-ums have tiny jaws that effectively saw into your skin, ensuring a notably painful bite.

What attracts no-see-ums to certain areas or individuals?

No-see-ums are attracted to carbon dioxide and lactic acid that we exhale and sweat out, so otherwise probably delightful physical activities can turn sour quickly when these pests are in the vicinity. Moist, wet areas, especially with standing water or mud, act like magnets for these stinging pests.

Why is there a need to repel no-see-ums, especially in certain regions like Florida?

Retaining your peace and comfort when you’re outdoors is reason enough to want to repel no-see-ums. More so, in area like Florida where humidity and warmth offer a conducive environment for these pests to thrive. Their bites can lead to uncomfortable allergic reactions characterized by severe itching and long-lasting blisters, ruining your beach day, hiking trek, or just the casual garden relaxation.

It’s an even larger concern for people who are hypersensitive to insect bites as these reactions can be more intense. Therefore, repelling no-see-ums is crucial in rain-laden regions like Florida, and gardening there requires some planning with plants that are effective no-see-um deterrents.

What Plants Are Known to Repel No-See-Ums?

Let’s delve into the realm of nature’s own bug repellent: plants. The beauty of this solution not only lies in its effectiveness, but in its own dual function as a decorative piece in your homes and gardens.

What are the plants that repel no-see-ums, and what specific compounds in these plants are effective?

Several plants have been proven proficient in repelling no-see-ums. Here are some favorites:

  • Citronella Grass: The essential oil citronellal, creating the signature scent, makes this grass perfect for throwing no-see-ums off your scent.
  • Camphor Trees: Housing a strong, unmistakable scent of their own, these trees are fantastic deterrents.
  • Marigolds: Containing the insecticidal compound pyrethrum, marigolds don’t just repel; they can potentially wipe out insects.
  • Lavender and Lemongrass: Beautiful and aromatic, these plants contain linalool and citronellal respectively, both known for their insecticidal properties.
  • Lemon Thyme and Rosemary: Safe and effective, these herbs contain thymol, a compound that helps ward off the pesky no-see-ums.
  • Catnip and Mint: Hosting nepetalactone and menthol respectively, these herbs are great at insect repelling.
  • Petunias: Their fragrant scent is great for us, but not-so-much for the bump-causing bugs.
  • Garlic: The strong scent deters many pests, no-see-ums included.
  • Basil and Geranium: Both contain eugenol and geraniol respectively, known compounds for insect repelling.
  • Tea Tree: Contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol, excellent for pest control.

How do these plants work to deter no-see-ums?

Essentially, each of these fragrant plants emits a scent that no-see-ums and other insects find unbearable. Sometimes, as is the case with marigolds and lavender, these plants contain compounds that can kill bugs outright. This dual-functionality makes them an excellent, natural form of pest control.

How can these plants be utilized in different forms like sprays and essential oils?

These plants can be used in various ways. They can be planted in your backyard, pots around the house, or used as border plants in your flower or vegetable gardens. The essential oils of these plants can also be extracted and used in sprays, candles, or diffusers. You can even rub the crushed leaves of some of these plants directly on your skin for immediate repulsive effect.

What are the variations and similarities in plants that repel no-see-ums?

While each plant has its unique way of repelling insects, the common denominator here is their fragrant nature. No-see-ums are put off by strong, pungent smells which most of these plants offer aplenty. The variations, however, lie in their application methods, intensity of fragrance, flowering season, and maintenance needs.

Are there geographical differences in the effectiveness of these plants, such as in Florida?

Certain plants might be more effective in some geographical locations than others due to climatic conditions. For instance, plants that thrive in warm, humid conditions like Florida such as citronella grass or lemongrass, would be more effective in deterring no-see-ums than those suited to colder environments.

How can these plants be grown and maintained?

Most of these plants are easy to grow and do not require too much maintenance. Regular watering, adequate sunlight, and regular pruning to manage growth are the general requirements. Local nurseries or lean on online resources can aid you in specific plant care instructions, to keep your plants healthy, blooming, and bugs at bay!

How Can Plants Be Used as Natural Repellents for No-See-Ums?

How can these plants be planted in gardens or used in insect repellent sprays?

Once you’ve selected your plants, choose a suitable location in your garden that fits their sunlight and watering needs. If you don’t have a garden, you can grow these plants in containers or pots too.

To make a natural insect repellent spray, you can steep the plants in water and then strain it or dilute their essential oils with water or a carrier oil. This solution can be sprayed around your indoor and outdoor spaces.

What are some examples of using these plants directly on the skin?

Certain plants, like basil or lavender, can provide direct protection by rubbing their leaves onto your skin. However, it’s necessary to carry out a patch test before you do to avoid possible skin irritations. Alternatively, you can also use essential oils derived from these plants, mixing them with carrier oils and applying it onto your skin.

How effective are these natural methods compared to commercial repellents?

While commercial repellents often contain chemicals for immediate and potent effect, natural methods using plants can also be effective and present fewer health concerns. However, their efficiency might be relatively lower, and they may need to be reapplied more frequently.

It is essential to remember that their effectiveness can vary based on individual body chemistry and the specific species of no-see-ums you’re dealing with. You might have to experiment a bit to find which method works best for you.

Does Citronella Specifically Repel No-See-Ums and Other Insects?

Citronella is a popular natural insect deterrent but how effective is it against no-see-ums and other insects?

Does citronella repel no-see-ums?

Yes, citronella does repel no-see-ums. The citronellal oil found in citronella plants masks the human scent, making it harder for no-see-ums to locate their target. Hence, it is commonly used in outdoor areas to ward off these pesky creatures.

How does citronella work in repelling no-see-ums?

Citronella works by confounding the insects’ senses. The strong aroma emitted by the plant’s essential oil effectively disrupts the insect’s ability to detect potential food sources. In other words, the smell of citronella makes you ‘invisible’ to bugs, including no-see-ums.

What are the properties of citronella that make it effective?

The main active compounds found in citronella, citronellal, citronellol, and geraniol, are what make it an effective insect repellent. These substances mess with an insect’s sense of smell, therefore warding off unwanted pesky attention.

Do citronella candles repel no-see-ums? How do they compare to citronella plants?

Citronella candles can help repel no-see-ums, but they might not be as effective as live citronella plants due to the concentration of the essential oils. For best results, use citronella candles in combination with citronella plants and other forms of bug control.

How can citronella be utilized in various forms?

Citronella can be used in multiple ways to repel no-see-ums. Besides growing the plant and using candles, you can find many products infused with citronella oil, such as bug sprays, lotions, and diffuser oils. You can even make a DIY spray at home by combining citronella essential oil with water or a carrier oil.

Does citronella also repel other insects like gnats? How is it used in broader insect control?

Yes, the strong scent of citronella doesn’t just deter no-see-ums, it’s also effective against gnats, mosquitoes, and several other pesky insects. Besides creating an invisible shield around you and your space, you can also use citronella oil to treat bug bites due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

How Do Essential Oils from Plants Aid in Repelling No-See-Ums?

Essential oils are a powerful and natural tool in your no-see-um repellent tool kit, but how exactly do they work?

What are the key essential oils found in plants that are effective against no-see-ums?

Several essential oils are known for their insect repelling properties. Some of these include citronellal from Citronella, geraniol from Geranium, eugenol from Basil, linalool from Lavender, nepetalactone from Catnip, and terpinen-4-ol from Tea Tree. All these oils have been observed to be quite effective in repelling no-see-ums.

How do these essential oils function to repel no-see-ums?

These essential oils work by interfering with the no-see-ums’ scent receptors making it difficult for them to detect and latch onto their targets. By masking your natural body odor, these oils create a protective ‘bubble’ that deters no-see-ums.

What are the applications of these essential oils? How can they be used in sprays, diffusers, or direct skin application?

These essential oils can be mixed with water or a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut and applied directly onto your skin. They can also be added to diffusers or made into a spray for application on clothing or outdoor areas. When diluted appropriately, most of these oils can be safely applied to the skin, but it’s always recommended to conduct a patch test first.

Are there any considerations or precautions to take when using essential oils for repelling no-see-ums?

While essential oils can be safe and effective, they should be used with some caution. Always dilute the essential oil before application, as undiluted oils can cause skin reactions or irritations. It’s also advisable to do a patch test before fully applying it onto your skin. Pregnant women, children, and pets may also be more sensitive to these oils, so consider consulting a healthcare provider before use.

How does the use of essential oils compare with other methods of repelling no-see-ums?

The use of essential oils presents a natural, chemical-free method of repelling no-see-ums, which many prefer due to reduced health concerns. However, similar to the use of plants, these oils may need frequent reapplication for continual effectiveness.

Can these essential oils be used to repel other insects, and what is their broader application in insect repellent?

Absolutely. Besides repelling no-see-ums, these essential oils are effective against a wide array of insects including mosquitoes, flies, and ticks, making them a handy tool in a broader spectrum of insect control. With their antibacterial and antiseptic properties, they can also be used to treat insect bites.

What Other Methods and Products Help in Repelling No-See-Ums?

While plants and essential oils are fantastic natural options, they are not the only methods available for deterring no-see-ums. Here’s a short exploration of other options you might find helpful.

What are other commercial no-see-um repellents, and how do they compare with natural repellents?

Commercial insect repellents contain various active ingredients like DEET, permethrin, and picaridin, which have been proven effective in warding off no-see-ums. They are usually long-lasting and require fewer reapplications compared to natural counterparts. However, the synthetic nature of these ingredients can raise potential health and environmental concerns.

How can you naturally deter and keep no-see-ums away besides plant use?

Besides using plants and their derivatives, simple acts like wearing long-sleeved clothing, using window and door screens, limiting outdoor activities during dawn and dusk (when no-see-ums are most active), turning off outdoor lights, and removing standing water around your home can all work towards reducing your exposure to these biting midges.

How to repel no-see-ums naturally?

Combining various strategies can increase your effectiveness in repelling no-see-ums naturally. This can include using the right plants or their essential oils, applying homemade natural sprays, maintaining a clean, dry environment, using physical barriers, and making appropriate clothing choices.

What are some DIY methods to keep no-see-ums away?

DIY methods can include homemade sprays using essential oils, vinegar traps, and even installing bat and bird houses around your property – they are natural insect predators and can help control the population of no-see-ums.

How to combine plant repellents with other natural repellent methods?

Combination is the key here. You can grow the plants mentioned in your yard, use DIY sprays made from essential oils indoors and outdoors, install screens on windows and doors, and practice good yard hygiene to limit breeding spots for no-see-ums. Simultaneously, you can also attract natural predators of these bugs in your yard.

What is the best repellent for no-see-ums, both natural and commercial?

The best repellent often depends on your preferences, the extent of the no-see-um problem, and personal experience. Natural methods work best in combination and may be preferred for regular usage and mild infestations due to fewer side effects. However, for heavy infestations or if you’re visiting a heavily infested area, a commercial repellent might be more effective. By experimenting with different products and methods, you’ll soon find what works best for you.

How to Keep No-See-Ums Away in Different Settings (Outdoor and Yard)?

Handling no-see-ums goes beyond just your personal repellents; you can also optimize your environment to discourage these pests.

What outdoor plants can keep bugs away, including no-see-ums?

Many outdoor plants double as natural insect repellants. Marigold, lavender, basil, rosemary, geranium, and lemongrass, among others, are noted for their ability to repel various insects, no-see-ums included. Plant these in your yard or patio for a more enjoyable and less itchy outdoor experience.

How to use repellents for no-see-ums in yards and outdoor spaces?

Beyond planting repellent plants in your garden or yard, there are other methods you can use. Application of commercial or DIY insect repellent sprays around your outdoor areas, especially in the damp and shaded places where no-see-ums prefer to hang out, can be very effective. Installing screens around your porch or deck, using bug zappers, and ensuring your outdoor lights don’t attract bugs can also be beneficial.

How to prevent no-see-um bites naturally in various environments?

To naturally prevent no-see-um bites across varied environments, consider the following:

  • Incorporate insect-repelling plants into your landscaping.
  • Use natural bug sprays on your skin and clothing when going outside during peak bug hours.
  • Use citronella candles or other essential oil diffusers.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants during times when no-see-ums are active.
  • Keep your environment clean and dry, essential in removing potential breeding grounds.

Remember, the effectiveness of each of these strategies can vary based on conditions and individual reactions. Hence, it’s important to experiment with combinations and find what’s most effective in your specific situation.


The battle against no-see-ums isn’t one you have to fight alone. Nature offers a wide range of plant allies that can effectively deter these biting nuisances. By incorporating these plants into your surroundings and using their essential oils, you can comfortably enjoy your outdoor experiences, free from the worry of no-see-um bites. Pair these natural methods with other preventative strategies for all-round protection and take back control of your outdoor and indoor living spaces, no-see-ums-free!

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