Need for mosquito repellents:
We all know that mosquitoes spread many infectious diseases among human beings such as malaria, filaria, dengue, chikungunya, etc. Some of these diseases can be life-threatening. Mosquitoes get easily attracted towards certain odours and secretions of the human skin. They spread these infections by biting an infected individual followed by an uninfected person.
Commercially available repellents Vs mosquito repellent plants:
There are some chemical mosquito repellent creams and sprays available in the market today. Well, it is easy to purchase any of them and apply or spray them to keep away those awful creatures. However, most of these commercially available repellents are loaded with chemicals which may cause irritation of or rashes on your skin. Nature has a safe solution to this problem – mosquito repellent plants. Mosquitoes find the aroma of these plants too awful to be around them. Many of these plants are easy to maintain and keep away the biting insects.
The aroma from these plants (many of which can be kept indoors) must be in the air around you, and most importantly, on your skin. You may also use the oils of these plants added to your diffusers to destress and unwind at the end of a tiring day. This will be an added bonus!
Let us review each of these plants one by one:
Citronella is an efficient mosquito repellent. But did you know Citronella is a beautiful perennial clumping grass? Research has proved that diffusers placed 6m from the mosquitoes traps repelled female mosquitoes by 22%.
Citronella grass aroma masks other scents and can easily be grown in your yard or garden bed. Citronella candles are easy to make at home. Affix a wick at the bottom of a jar, add a few drops of citronella oil to melted wax in your favourite jar and let it cool. Your home-made mosquito repellent is ready to be used.
Mosquitos just hate the smell of lavender as much as most humans love it. Lavendula angustifolia is the scientific name for this soothing and calming plant which bears such lovely purple flowers. Keep a pot of lavender near a sunny window or anywhere in your garden to keep the blood sucking mosquitoes away.
Rosemary is a herb often used as food flavour or for garnishing. However, this herb cleans the air and also attracts the butterflies, besides keeping the mosquitoes away. Preparing your rosemary spray is easy too.
Add one cup of dried rosemary leaves to one-litre water and boil this mixture for 20-30 minutes. Add one litre of normal (temperature) water in a separate container, and strain the rosemary mixture into it. Store this water into spray bottles and use it directly on the skin and around the house.
- Neem oil
A study conducted in Malaria Research Centre in Ranipur, Hardwar, India (1995) tested a mix of 2% neem oil mixed in coconut oil. They found that neem oil was effective against Anopheles mosquitoes (provided 96-100% protection), and 85% against Aedes mosquitoes.
Neem oil has been widely used as a natural mosquito repellent to fight malaria in Asia and Africa. Neem oil incense sticks can be burned to repel mosquitoes naturally. Apply neem oil on the skin for creating a mosquito repellent zone around you.
Catnips are enriched with nepetalactone, the essential oil from which the plant derives its characteristic odour. The potential of catnips as a mosquito repellent is ten times stronger than DEET (chemical name: N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), a content of bug repellent.
Catnips are easy to grow in your garden. You may also use the commercially available catnip herbal oil, in your diffuser.
Marigold contains the compound called Pyrethrum which has a unique aroma that repels the mosquitoes. Marigold plants are very easy to grow in your garden, and they blossom pretty yellow flowers. You can prepare a spray or a few drops of oil in warm water oil infusion.
The fragrant flowers of Chrysanthemum contain a natural compound called pyrethrin. This compound prevents the female mosquitoes from biting humans. You can also prepare a homemade mosquito repellent which can be applied directly on the skin.
Chop a dozen Chrysanthemum flowers and tie them in a cotton cloth. Soak this cloth in some olive oil inside a jar. Store the mixture for two weeks in a dark place. After two weeks, filter the mixture and store it in a glass bottle.
Apply this oil on the exposed area of your skin whenever you are outdoors.
- Lemon balm
Lemon balm belongs to the mint family and is very easy to grow. According to a Botanist in Delaware State University, some forms of lemon balm contain 38% of Citronellal (a compound which mimics the well-known herbal repellent citronella oil). The leaves of this plant can be crushed and rubbed on the exposed skin to repel the mosquitoes. Growing the lemon balm in your garden, or in a pot can come handy whenever you want to use it to flavour your tea too.
It is also a curative compound for the insect bites.
Basil or the Holy Basil can provide protection from the mosquitoes too. Basil oil, when combined with lavender oil and applied on the skin, can provide about eight hours of protection against mosquitoes.
Although the scent of the garlic is a bit too strong to be used as a diffuser, hanging some cloves of garlic near the window can help to repel some insects. Peeled or unpeeled garlic may be used for this purpose. Garlic oil acts as a protective shield for our skin, against the mosquitoes.
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