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Soothe the Itch with Plantain

June 2nd, 2014

Now that the weather has warmed the insects have come out as well. Here in Maine they come in droves at certain times of the year, at the moment black flies are biting like crazy. They don’t stop my from working outside. For the most part insects don’t bother me too much, but I do get bit on occasion. When I do I grab a leaf off a broad leaved plantain, pop it in my mouth and chew it for a few seconds, then I put the poultice on my insect bite.
plantain 1
plantain 2
This works like a charm every time, it also works well for bee and wasp stings. If you’d like to read a fascinating collection of the historical uses of plantains head on over and check out this article.

Do you have a tried and true way to dealing with insect bites?

9 Comments to “Soothe the Itch with Plantain”
  1. Laura @ Raise Your Garden on June 2, 2014 at 6:49 am


    Plantains for an itch? This is epic. I want to say I can’t wait to try but I guess that’s kind of like saying I can wait to get bit.

    All bugs just love me! I am their favorite person. Ever. I get eaten alive and have actually had to use deet once, (how awful is that) so I could hike in the woods

    I have been told to shove dryer sheets down your shirt, both front and back and jam them in your socks. This works ok for me.

    Essential oils like tea tree work really well, but then I smell so awful I can’t tolerate myself!!

    My daughter had a bee sting and the red onion I used on her finger worked liked a champ.

    Reply to Laura @ Raise Your Garden's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on June 2, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Susy, bug bites. Yeah, you know that summer is here when bug bites begin. I rarely get bitten by bugs. For some reason they just don’t like me. I guess a tough old geezer is just not what they are looking for. What happened to the blue cup on the hat method for biting flies or has that season not started yet?

    We had a horrific wind storm blow through last night and power was off for about three hours. It rattled a few small sticks out of the sycamore tree in the front yard but other than that all is well. It flatten the potato plants but they will survive and knocked down the lettuce. All the caged plants like tomato and bell peppers made it through without damage. It’s good that I didn’t have the cucumbers out yet. All the potted plants waiting to be planted were in the back of my truck safely in the garage.

    Have a great itch soothing day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. Joan on June 2, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Yarrow is great for mosquito bites. Crush it in your hands then apply it to the bite. I didn’t know about this use of plantain and will have to give it a try – I sure have lots of plantain and lots of black flies. My horses are covered up head to tail in fly sheets to help protect them – they look like something from the crusades. I rely heavily on bug nets and covering up for myself as well!

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on June 2, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Have you tried White Mountain Insect Repellant for your horses? I have a friend in VT that highly recommends it. They even sell special spray bottles for horses. I’m headed out to the local feed store to get some for Tara and the pigs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Sara on June 2, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Ooh, I didn’t know about this, and I have lots of plantain growing our lawn (and yarrow in the garden too)! Thanks for the tip! We are having a warm rainy stretch and I’m sure the skeeters will be increasing soon.

    Reply to Sara's comment

  5. Jennifer Fisk on June 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Down here on the Island, Black Flies are never as bad as inland. I do have some bites though. You know in their favorite places such as behind ears, on neck at hair line, corner of eyes. In the evening in the spring, I do go for Deep Woods Off. This is the only time I do chemicals and I wash it off when I come in. As soon as I get my Gazebo cleaned up, I’ll spend time in there watching the bugs from the inside listening to all the bird calls.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  6. Chris on June 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Crushed Marigold blossoms work great for a bee sting as we don’t have black flies or mosquitoes, it’s really the only insect to watch out for. I’ve also used a crushed up aspirin, which worked well too! Right now my thyme lawn is in bloom and is alive with thousands of bumble bees and as long as I don’t accidently step on one, they are completely non-agressive. I can work right along side of them and it’s amazing how many different kinds there are!
    Thanks for the plantain tip though…I’ll pass it along to my folks that live in black fly territory!

    Reply to Chris's comment

  7. Aria on June 8, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    It works! Have tried it twice this weekend and am hooked! Thanks for the info!

    Reply to Aria's comment

  8. Wendy on July 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

    This reminder came right to mind yesterday when my 5 year old was stung by a bumblebee and we were a good distance from the house. I was able to quickly apply some plantain with minimal crying on my son’s part and by the time my husband arrived to get him back home he was pain free. When the plantain fell off awhile later the white “poison” area around the bite that we had seen earlier was gone–just a little redness and puffiness. I’m really interested to see how it looks today. Everyone (except the 2 year old) at our house can identify plantain and knows how to use it. Thanks so much!

    Reply to Wendy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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