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Updated: March 5, 2013 10:37 IST

One more weapon to add to anti-mosquito arsenal

Special Correspondent
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Herbal candles made by teachers of Mangayarkarasi Middle School that could keep mosquitoes away. Photo: G. Moorthy
Herbal candles made by teachers of Mangayarkarasi Middle School that could keep mosquitoes away. Photo: G. Moorthy

Teachers come up with dual purpose candle

Mosquitoes give sleepless nights to city residents, especially those living along the 11 drainage channels which criss-cross the city.

Many have their windows covered with nets and almost every household uses different types of repellents such as coils, creams, liquid refills and sprays. And the latest addition in houses and offices are swatters to kill mosquitoes.

But mosquitoes have proved to be resilient to all the gadgets and remedies the human mind has devised.

Nevertheless, a group of teachers of Mangayarkarasi Middle School here have come up with a herbal potion that is cost-effective and claims to have no side-effects.

Students keen to submit an entry at the science exhibition that was offbeat as well as relevant stumbled upon the idea of finding a solution to the mosquito problem.

They turned to traditional medicine and came up with herbal candles made of thumbai (leucas aspera). “This is a common plant seen in fields in any part of the city. It has high medicinal value,” said Pavithra, a teacher.

The leaves, flowers and roots of Thumbai give out an aroma that drives away mosquitoes.

The plant is dried and powdered. The powder is then mixed with wax to make the candles.

The candle, when lit, produces a pleasant smell that keeps mosquitoes away for a radius of at least 10 feet. “It does not produce any smoke which is allergic to asthma patients. Unlike chemical repellents, which cause respiratory problems in children, Thumbai helps cure respiratory problems,” another teacher, K. Ramalakshmi, claimed.

The thumbai plant is available in abundance in this region, which reduces the raw material cost.

The candle serves the dual purpose of giving light as well as driving away mosquitoes. “Wax can be reused for mixing with the herbal powder,” Ms. Pavithra added.

The teachers said that they have been using this candle for the past few months and claimed that it produced the desired result.

Repellent cream

Using the same herbal powder, they have come up with a substitute for mosquito repellent creams.

The cream was made by adding 50 gm of powder to 100 ml of boiling coconut oil. The cream can be applied on the limbs to prevent mosquito bites, the teachers claimed.

The powder can also be used with charcoal to make a type of mosquito repellent, the teachers said. Residents now have one more weapon to add to their anti-mosquito arsenal.

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