As raids by mosquitoes are giving sleepless nights, more and more households in the city are finding new ways to tackle the menace. Never mind the additional strain on the household budget. In the joint family of Das, living in Royapettah, five mosquito vaporisers, each for a room, are used a month when the mosquito season is at its peak. “You cannot think of sleeping properly at night without switching on the vaporiser. Every season, this is an expense that adds to our budget,” says R. Das. Last week, the family brought screens to be installed on all the windows, but is waiting to find a carpenter to undertake the work.

Over three years ago it was the hi-tech swat bats that was a must-see in most homes to fight mosquitoes, but now families are looking for a long-term investment. It was after being sick with dengue that Mohamed Arif, a resident of Moovarasampet, near Madipakkam, decided he had to look at something more than mosquito repellents. “The doctor had advised us not to use repellents when children are around. That's when I got three windows and a door covered with screens,” says Mr.Arif, who spent Rs.5,000 on the work.

From insecticide-based coils to mats to liquid vaporisers, the market has varieties such as application based as well as ones with organic components to suit peoples' requirements. According to Sanjeev Singhai, Business Director - Indian Sub Continent, Buchanan Group, the popularity of newer varieties, especially organic components, has been pretty high in metros and class I towns. But its weightage to the overall repellent pie is very small, he says.

For dealers and manufacturers it is brisk business. R. Senthil Kumar, authorised distributor of some insect repellents, who supplies to 600 retail outlets between Vadapalani and Porur, says, “In a month I sell 80 cases (each having 240 liquid vaporisers) of a particular brand and achieve sales worth Rs.12 lakh.” During the non-peak season, his average sales is Rs.8 lakh.Doctors say that while coils should be avoided and the use of application-based repellents restricted, vaporisers are safer. “As long as the chemicals used are reasonably safe and pose minimal risk to human health, the use of vaporisers are justified in view of the common incidents of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases,” says Ravi Ramalingam, ENT surgeon, adding that traditional nets are still the safest option.

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