The Ultimate Guide to Snake Plants and Mosquitoes

Most story villains have a few redeeming qualities, like a heartbreaking origin, a devilish grin, or maybe just a cool getaway car. But not the mosquito. That insect’s crimes are irredeemable, so you’ll want to avoid bringing plants into your home that may attract them. A popular belief is that snake plants (Sansevieria) attract mosquitoes; lucky for snake plant growers, this is untrue!

Snake plants (Sansevieria) do not attract mosquitoes; they repel them. Snake plants naturally produce a chemical called Saponin, which is neurotoxic to mosquitoes and other insects, and saponins are also considered toxic to cats and dogs.

Before planting Sansevieria all around your house and yard, keep reading. I’ll cover everything you need about snake plants and mosquitoes!

Do Snake Plants Repel Mosquitoes?

Yes! Snake plants repel mosquitoes because they possess a chemical called Saponin, a naturally-occurring insecticide. Saponins have been identified in over 100 plant families, with varying insecticidal and toxic qualities.

Some common plants which contain Saponins include tomatoes, alfalfa, ginseng, potatoes, asparagus, and horse chestnut.

Note that snake plants are ineffective as a mosquito “barrier,” so don’t abandon your other insect defenses for just a porch full of snake plants! Mosquitoes will avoid snake plants but bravely fly close to any Saponin-bearing plant in exchange for a delicious and unsuspecting human meal. Mosquitoes will likely roost near a snake plant if an ample standing water supply for egg-laying is nearby.

Snake plants do not “secrete” Saponin into the earth and air. They do NOT work as an aerosol or underground insect repellent.

To me, there is nothing more soothing than the song of a mosquito that can’t get through the mesh to bite you.

Madison Smartt Bell

Can I Use Snake Plants Instead of Bug Spray?

No! Do not try to apply the sap of a Sansevieria directly to your skin to increase the insecticidal effect of the Saponin-rich snake plant. Not only will this be ineffective, but it could also potentially harm you. The sap of a snake plant is toxic to humans when touched or ingested; contact with the sap could cause inflammation and irritation.

My guide on the snake plant’s toxicity to humans goes into greater detail. Despite their toxicity, you shouldn’t consider snake plants “dangerous” to grow. Consider using gloves when repotting your snake plant if you have sensitive skin.

What is the Best Plant To Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Several plants possess oils and aromas that are effective at repelling mosquitoes.

Plants that can repel mosquitoes by fragrance alone include:

  • Marigolds
  • Lavender
  • Scented Geraniums
  • Citronella
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Bee Balm
  • Catnip
  • Plectranthus (Spurflowers)
  • Wormwood
  • Thyme (especially Lemon Thyme)

If you want to make the most of these plants’ mosquito-repelling properties, you’ll want to release their oils rather than stand close to them. To do so, crush their leaves and petals and apply the forthcoming oils to your skin. You will want to reapply every 30 minutes to protect yourself from mosquitoes.

You can also use the essential oils of these plants to make an effective homemade bug spray combined with water or a scentless carrier product.

What Bugs Do Snake Plants Attract?

Snake plants do not attract any bugs or insects in particular, and snake plants contain the insecticidal chemical Saponin, which will prevent most bugs from calling your snake plant home.

Despite this, snake plants are at risk of infestation from common houseplant pests like mealybugs, spider mites, scales, aphids, fungus gnats, and whiteflies.

Here’s a quick chart for identifying common snake plant pests:

PestDescription
MealybugIt looks somewhat like a tiny, white trilobite and leaves white, cottony residue in the nooks and crannies of the plant.
Spider MiteMiniscule, spider-like bugs weave fine, almost-translucent webbing around the plant.
ScaleAppear as small, brown bumps on the leaf and leaves a trail of “honeydew,” or white spots.
AphidBlack, green, or white. A minor, locust-like bug that swarms plants.
Fungus GnatAppear like a small fruit fly and lays an egg in overmoist soil. Flies around plants and crawls on the soil surface.
WhiteflySmall, bright-white fly. Swarm plants.

Proper watering is the best way to prevent pests on your snake plant. Muddy, overwatered pots are considered an invitation to stay by many common houseplant pests.

Snake plants, in particular, will NOT thrive in overly moist conditions, so properly watering your Sansevieria is your first step in pest prevention!

Do Houseplants Attract Mosquitoes?

Any houseplant can potentially attract mosquitoes if they are overwatered. Besides the sweet smell of humanity, mosquitoes are also attracted to standing water. If your houseplants are overwatered to the point of consistent puddles, or if the plate beneath the pot is never drained of excess water, you leave yourself at mosquito risk.

Mosquitoes need stagnant water in which to lay their eggs. Generally, they will not come inside your home to do so, but there remains a risk in the summer when windows and doors are open. Some plant parents like taking their babies outside to the porch or yard during the summer. If you do so, dump any remaining still water before bringing it back inside.

Mosquitoes feast on some plant nectar in addition to blood, so plants that contain such nectar may attract mosquitoes. Such plants are not expected as houseplants; examples include water hyacinth, taro, bamboo, and lilies.

Since snake plants do not generally require high amounts of water, they are not at particular risk of becoming a mosquito breeding spot.

Do Snake Plants Repel Snakes?

Believe it or not, Snake plants can work as a snake repellent. At the same time, snake plants repel mosquitoes due to their chemical properties and the simple physical appearance of snake plants that help them keep the real snakes away.

Snakes do not like the sharp, pointy shape of Sansevieria leaves, and snakes instinctually avoid sharp-looking objects that might puncture them as they move along the ground. Snake plants (more commonly called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) are widely used as snake repellents in gardens throughout India.

FAQs on The Ultimate Guide to Snake Plants and Mosquitoes

Are snake plants toxic to humans?
Snake plants are mildly toxic to humans if ingested, and ingestion can cause swelling in and around the mouth, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Snake plants can also cause contact irritation if you encounter the plant sap with bare skin.

What are the benefits of snake plants?
-Air purification
-Allergen reduction
-Pollutant mitigation
-Easy care and upkeep
-Space beautification

Are snake plants bad for pets?
Snake plants are toxic to cats and dogs, and they possess the chemical neurotoxin Saponin, which can potentially kill small pets that ingest a significant amount. Snake plants should be kept away from all pets, especially those prone to chew on plant matter.

What attracts mosquitoes?
Carbon dioxide released by human beings and other creatures most attracts mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also seek out prey by heat signature and body odor. Other things that attract mosquitoes include perfumes, increased body heat, blood type, high blood/alcohol content, and dark clothing.

How do I get rid of bugs in my snake plant?
You can remove bugs from your snake plant by applying any of the following:
-Neem oil
-Store-bought insecticidal soap
-Dish soap and water
-Rubbing alcohol
-Essential oils (for example, rosemary, lemongrass, citronella, basil, lavender)
These applications are most effective if applied as a spray. To make a homemade insecticidal spray, combine the main ingredient with water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. Be sure to thoroughly spray down the entire snake plant, including the soil and inside the “unfurled” portion of the snake plant’s leaves.

Conclusion on Do Snake Plants Attract Mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes have a knack for ruining everything, including the plants we love, by calling them home. Luckily for snake plant lovers, thanks to its natural defenses, you don’t need to worry about mosquitoes pestering your Sansevieria.

It doesn’t mean snake plants are not protected from every sort of bug. If you’d like more information on what your snake plant is susceptible to, read our article on common Sansevieria pests [Do Snake Plants (Sansevieria) Keep Bugs Away?].

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