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Updated: April 1, 2014 13:12 IST
GREEN SIGNAL

Second line of defence

Preethi Sukumaran
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Installing moquito nets on the windows is one way of tackling the problem. Photo: Sampath Kumar G. P.
The Hindu Installing moquito nets on the windows is one way of tackling the problem. Photo: Sampath Kumar G. P.

Here are some natural ways of warding off mosquitoes

After identifying the mosquito’s modus operandi, we must now create effective strategies to protect ourselves. The first line of defence is obviously the insect screen that one can fix on all the windows. However, other aspects can be looked into as well.

Do not make it easy for mosquitoes to breed or take shelter inside your home. Stagnant water and moist mud are ideal breeding spots. Cover the moist surface with dried leaves. Since mosquitoes have a short flight span and look for resting spots, remove clutter. In our home, we periodically recycle things that we do not need or use and keep to minimalist decor.

Clean and fragrant home

Cleaning your home is another way to repel mosquitoes and can be achieved without toxic chemicals. At our home, we mop the floor with an extract of soapberry (Sapindus Trifoliatus) and essential oils.

Soapberries are fantastic natural cleaners and also repel insects. Adding a few drops of any oil like neem, eucalyptus or citronella to the soapberry liquid provides a delightful fragrance and keep mosquitoes away. We get better results if we mop the floors closer to dusk.

Burning benzoin resin (sambrani) every evening is another way. Benzoin resin comes from the bark of an aromatic tree of the Styrax genus. Styrax resin has been used from ancient times in incense and medicines in India, Central Asia, Greece and Rome, and is said to have strong anti-bacterial and insect-repelling properties.

Benzoin resin appears to repel mosquitoes, and acts as a good cleansing ritual as well. It is an acquired smell, though, and can cause headaches, so start with small quantities.

Personal protection

An evening bath with a few drops of neem oil added to the water is highly recommended. Do not use synthetic soap, and stick to natural ones, which use essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances. Synthetic fragrances, especially those that are floral and fruity, use Octenol, which is a mosquito magnet. Regular shampoos could also be a source of Octenol, which is why we recommend a natural hair wash.

Deodorants are another source of Octenol besides being hazardous to human beings and the environment. Use an alum stick instead. Alum is a naturally-formed crystal, costs just a few rupees, and has very useful astringent and haemostatic properties.

At the end of this three-part series, we can conclude that there is no silver bullet that will magically eliminate mosquitoes. The answer lies more in how well we understand the root causes and how we design a sustainable and organic life for ourselves that can still be pest free.

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