The Common Weed You'll Want To Keep In Your Yard To Repel Mosquitoes

Although less than 3% of the more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes worldwide are known to be disease vectors, these insects are generally unwelcome visitors in any kind of space — indoor or outdoor. Not only are their bites itchy and irritating, but they also pose significant health risks by transmitting diseases like malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus, and West Nile virus. It's no wonder people are constantly seeking effective ways to get rid of mosquitoes in their yards and indoor spaces. One natural solution that has gained attention is pineapple weed or Matricaria discoidea. Despite its name, pineapple weed is not related to pineapples at all but gets its moniker from the sweet, fruity scent its foliage and flowers emit when they are crushed. This humble little plant, often dismissed as a weed, possesses remarkable properties that can help keep mosquitoes at bay.

According to The Wildlife Trusts, pineapple weed is native to Northeast Asia but is now generally widespread globally. It is typically found in disturbed soils such as roadsides, fields, landscapes, nurseries, turf, and waste areas. It resembles chamomile (hence, its nicknames "false chamomile" and "wild chamomile") in appearance, with small, pineapple-shaped flower heads atop slender stems. This resilient plant is easily identifiable by its distinctive scent, making it easy to tap into for natural pest control.

Harnessing pineapple weed's mosquito-repelling power

The secret behind pineapple weed's ability to repel mosquitoes lies in its active compounds, particularly alpha-terpineol, spathulenol, and neryl isovalerate. These compounds possess natural insect-repellent properties that have been studied and confirmed by scientists. A 2018 study published in the National Library of Medicine verified the role of pineapple weed as a "biting-insect deterrent," identifying the said compounds as the most active in terms of repelling mosquitoes. In addition to these pests, pineapple weed has also shown efficacy against other pests like fleas and ticks. 

To harness the mosquito-repelling power of pineapple weed, start by harvesting fresh pineapple weed plants, ensuring they are free from pesticides and contaminants. Crush the pineapple weed leaves and flowers to release their aromatic oils, then apply liberally on your exposed skin before venturing outdoors, reapplying as needed. Alternatively, you can place fresh pineapple weed leaves around outdoor seating areas to naturally deter mosquitoes. However, note that some people may be allergic to pineapple weed, so always do a skin patch test to avoid a major flare-up. Besides repelling bugs naturally (specifically biting ones), pineapple weed is often used to alleviate insomnia, hasten wound healing, and provide pain relief, among others. Having pineapple weed in your outdoor environment can be truly beneficial, as it means you can enjoy the benefits of a natural and effective mosquito repellent while appreciating the beauty and resilience of this often-overlooked plant.