Repelling Pests With Mint Plants: Can You Use Mint As A Pest Deterrent

Mint Plant
mint pests
(Image credit: Zakharova_Natalia)

Mint plants have a pungent and invigorating aroma that can be used for teas and even salads. The fragrance of some mint varieties doesn’t sit well with insects, however. That means that you can use mint as a pest deterrent. But does mint repel pests of the four-legged kind?

No scientific studies suggest that mint plants in the garden keep away domesticated animals like cats, or even wildlife, like raccoons and moles. However, gardeners swear that bugs don’t like mint, including mosquitoes and spiders. Read on for more information about repelling pests with mint.

Does Mint Repel Pests?

Mint (Mentha spp.) is a plant prized for its lemony fresh aroma. Some varieties of mint, such as peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata), also have insect repellent properties.

When you are searching for bugs that don’t like mint, remember that not every type of mint causes a reaction in the same insects. Spearmint and peppermint are reputed to work well against insects like mosquitoes, flies, and spiders, making them ideal for the backyard garden. On the other hand, pennyroyal mint (Mentha pulegium) is said to repel ticks and fleas.

Repelling Pests with Mint

It is nothing new to attempt repelling pests with mint concoctions. In fact, if you look at the ingredient list for some commercially available “safe” pest repellents, you may find that they have left out the harsh chemicals and replaced them with peppermint oil.

You don’t have to buy a product though; you can make your own. To use mint as a pest deterrent, all you need to do is rub peppermint or spearmint leaves against your bare skin when you are heading outside. Alternatively, create your own repellent spray by adding peppermint or spearmint essential oil to a little witch hazel.

Animals That Don’t Like Mint

Does mint repel pests? It is a proven repellent for insect pests. It is harder to pin down its effect on larger animals, however. You will hear about animals that don’t like mint, as well as tales about how planting mint keeps these animals from damaging your garden.

The jury is still out on this question. Since mint serves so many purposes in the garden, do your own experiments. Plant several types of mint in an area injured by animal pests and see what happens.

We’d love to know the results.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.