Relief from Mosquitoes and Gnats

By William T. Hathaway

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

The Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is commonly found throughout the lowlands and stream banks of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Often on hot summer days, when the mosquitoes tend to feast on your sweaty neck, grabbing a handful of Spicebush leaves can bring relief. After crushing the leaves in your hands, a spicy odor is released; this concoction of leaf juices repels the flying pests. During gnat season this application keeps swarming, aerial herds from homing in, not only on your neck but your head as well.

The truth is: I didn't believe this recommended procedure until I tried it — it really worked for me.

Also see these illustrations in larger format, and a discussion of the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly.