If Your Yard Is Filled With Mosquitoes, These 10 Plants Might Be To Blame

Sitting outside on a warm evening is one of life's simple pleasures — one that's quickly and rudely interrupted if you find yourself swatting repeatedly at buzzing mosquitoes who seem to have one mission in their short, disruptive lives: to leave you itchy and miserable. If your yard is infested, you might be searching for the usual causes such as standing water, but there are some fairly common plants that might be to blame.

When you find your home turf invaded by the mosquito (or Culicidae) family, of which there are about 200 species in the United States, you'll want to tackle them in a multitude of ways. It's bad enough that mosquitoes can elicit scratch-producing welts, but the insects also often carry a variety of icky parasites and diseases, including encephalitis and Zika, says the Environmental Protection Agency. The Illinois Department of Public Health adds that by virtue of the diseases they transmit mosquitoes have killed more people on earth than the total number of human beings killed in all known wars.

You might have to stop them by removing the things they like, whether it's an annual in a potted plant, a floater in a pond, or a favorite perennial. The culprits are usually plants that hold water or grow in water or are heavy nectar producers, but those characteristics alone aren't enough to condemn nor identify the greenery that mosquitoes gravitate toward. Any of the following plants might be to blame if your yard is attracting the nuisances.

You'll feel grim from many mosquito bites if you plant water lilies

When Walt Disney World bans a particular plant there must be a reason. The plant they keep out of the park is the water lily (Nymphaea genus) – all 46 different species of water lilies, any of which are likely to attract mosquitoes. People often mistakenly think that mosquitoes live on blood alone, but they also love to consume the nectar of plants like the water lily. Basically, these pond flowers are a mosquito magnet.

If your ivy grows, so do the mosquitoes

You wouldn't think something as lush and green and innocent-looking as English ivy (Hedera helix) would attract mosquitoes, but ivy (considered an invasive plant nearly everywhere in the United States) is a cozy abode that mosquitoes are happy to call home no matter where it grows. The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia notes that homeowners are catching on, however, and starting to make substitutions with plants that are local to their areas, like the easy-to-grow (and pretty) evergreen perennial Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) for anyone living in zones 5 through 10.

Mosquitoes love orchids

If you live in an area that the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) likes to inhabit, you'll want to avoid planting orchids, particularly the blunt-leaf orchid (Platanthera obtusata) that it pollinates. Attracted by the flower's scent, its nectar is a favorite for the irritating insects. While it's great that they fertilize the pretty flowers, when they're done, the females come looking for humans. Both male and female mosquitoes need nectar in their diets, but females require blood to reproduce. Get rid of your orchids, and mosquitoes will be less likely to see you as the main course.

I love you, bro(meliads), says the mosquito

Mosquitoes love bromeliads. These tropical plants are master water collectors, thus explaining their popularity among mosquitoes who love the puddles that collect in the center cavity and curved leaves of many bromeliads. One of the most well-known bromeliads — pineapple — is a food, so you shouldn't spray it with a pesticide. Instead, try the suggestion from Miami Dade Mosquito Control and give the collected water in your plant a spritz of cooking oil spray to keep mosquito larvae from breathing. This will kill them if caught at the right stage.

Some bugs have all the luck

The lucky bamboo plant (Dracaena Sanderiana, not the typically tall Bambusoideau) might be luckier for the mosquitoes than it's for you. It's like a Vegas nightclub for a particularly nasty mosquito. The Aedes genus (such as the yellow fever mosquito and the tiger mosquito) often lays its eggs on lucky bamboo stalks, and while the plant might be perfect for growing indoors, it isn't lucky for you once the eggs hatch. The World Health Organization affirms that all mosquitoes can transmit diseases; the Aedes species is known for yellow fever, Chikungunya, dengue, and Zika.

Wild taro, mosquitoes love you!

A plant with big leaves like wild taro (Colocasia esculenta) is dramatic in a landscape; or maybe that's what your builder or landscaper thought when they planted it. But according to Bioresource Technology the tropical plant that seems innocuously ornamental isn't just a space filler, it's a mosquito motel! Many environmental agencies warn that it can quickly become invasive and that it thrives in warm climates. Sometimes mistaken for another a plant known as elephant ear, the thick growths of taro are a favorite hook-up spot for frisky skeeters.

Au revoir, my little water hyacinth

The ethereal beauty of the water hyacinths (Pontederia crassipes), which might be floating on your pond or lake, belies its annoying characteristics especially the way it chokes out other plants with its dense and speedy growth and the clandestine cover it gives mosquito eggs and larvae as a result. An article published in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission noted that its compact growth provides a place for mosquitoes to breed and thrive. Removing stubborn water hyacinth from your yard is likely to require persistence, and ultimately you may need a water-safe herbicide.

In de Nile over the mosquito/papyrus connection

Highlighted as one of the perfect ornamental grasses for your yard, papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is striking and graceful, but unfortunately, it's still one of those mosquito-attracting sedge plants. Unlike nectar-filled flowers or water-logged bromeliads, papyrus just sways in the breeze, right? While it has no alluring scent, it is an aquatic plant with flowering heads that produce nectar. So, you may want to skip this plant if you want to avoid mosquitoes. 

Mosquitoes are stayin' alive among water lettuce

You don't add water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) to your salad. This lettuce isn't a food for humans, but rather the off-shore vacation hot spot for frisky mosquitoes, including the Mansonia genus who use water lettuce as a breeding ground. Developing larvae go for a swim, and once in the water, blend in with plant roots where hunters like mosquitofish can't get to them, states the Sarasota County Mosquito Management. Not content with playing hide-and-seek, once they're adults, they head for the disco, i.e., our artificial lights, according to The National Institutes for Health.

The smell of Amur honeysuckle charms mosquitoes

Mosquitoes might be charmed by the allures of your honeysuckle or completely disgusted by it depending on your yard's honeysuckle type. Mosquitoes adore the non-native Amur honeysuckle, which is great for their "babies." Strongly scented, naturalized Italian honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium), on the other hand, might work in your favor. Researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that its oils killed mosquito larvae. The easiest way to tell if the honeysuckle in your yard is invasive is to look for a hollow stem, which indicates that it's not a native plant.