Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bushcraft - Central Texas Style - Natural Mosquito Repellant


One of the main problems for anyone who has spent any amount of time outdoors is that pesky little critter known as the mosquito. Using some of nature’s own plants can help you solve this problem if you know where to look. Fortunately, nature has enabled this natural mosquito repellant to be found quite easily.

The beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana) is a native plant that is found quite easily due to its shiny purple berries that appear almost metallic in color. They are found growing along creeks and riverbeds in moist or dry conditions in areas of full sun, shade or partial shade.

The leaves and berries can be crushed in your hands and rubbed on your body for use as a fairly good mosquito deterrent. I would probably just use the leaves since the berries were also used in making a dye for fabric. You may have a hard time explaining the purple tint to your skin otherwise. This use dates back a couple of hundred years and branches of the plant were quite often used by farmers and ranchers to keep mosquitoes and horse flies off their livestock.

The berries of this plant are a favorite of mockingbirds (the State Bird of Texas), squirrels and other small mammals. Mockingbirds will quite often chase other birds away from a bush in an effort to protect their food source. The leaves are also a favorite forage item of white-tail deer.

Although the ripe berries are edible, they have a fairly bland taste but are quite often used to make jelly. Some even have a mild spicy flavor and the best tasting ones are usually found on plants growing on or near a riverbank or creek. The leaves and berries were also used for medicinal purposes by many Native Americans.

They make a great addition to your landscape and are disease and drought resistant.

Note: Wild plant foods can cause differing reactions among people and although beautyberries aren’t listed in any toxic databases they may still cause adverse problems or reactions for some people.

Got mosquito repellant?

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

I hate mosquitos and anything that helps repel them is a major benefit. Thanks Riverwalker - I had no idea of this plants existence. Looks like I should pick a few of these plants up - never know when or if our authorities will have to stop spraying during outbreaks.

Fwiw, those hunting net suits (camoflauge materials secured to net) do a pretty good job of keeping skeeters off of you themselves. Just a tip.

Thanks again - have a great day.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 7:14

I'm not very fond of mosquitoes myself and if my can of Deet bug spray winds up empty....don't want to wind up being an unwilling blood

Thanks anon.


kdonat said...

I'm on the central Florida gulf coast and our beautybush has just started to color up. Good to know it's servicible for mosquito control and a possible edible addition. Thanks for the post.

riverwalker said...

To: kdonat

Natural forms of pest control, especially where mosquitoes are concerned is a good thing...

Beautybush is quite common and fairly easy to propagate if you don't have ant growing wild in your area.

Thanks kdonat.


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