Natural way to keep mosquitoes away

Mosquitoes really could be annoying and clearing them out is important for a good night sleep and the prevention of the many diseases they transmit. There has been a great deal of interest recently in the use of natural repellents for insects.

Replacing DEET, the most commonly used chemical-based insect repellent that is put on human skin with mosquito repellent plants have been seen as better alternatives due to its toxic effect. The great news is that ingredients for effective mosquito repellents are widely available.
Nature has its own way of keeping insects in check. Many plants have essential oils which they exude that have insect repellent qualities.  These essential oils, such as peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood, also come useful in making insect and mosquito repellents.
This repellency of plant material has been exploited for thousands of years by man, most simply by hanging bruised plants in houses, a practice that is still in wide use throughout the developing countries. Plants have also been used for centuries in the form of crude fumigants. Plants such as neem leaves were burnt to drive away nuisance mosquitoes and later as oil formulations applied to the skin or clothes.
Plant-based repellents are still extensively used in this traditional way throughout rural communities in the tropics because for many of the poorest communities, this is the only means of protection from mosquito bites that is available. In fact, to many communities, “natural” smelling repellents are preferred because plants are perceived as a safe and trusted means of mosquito bite prevention.
Scientists have discovered a range of plants that repel mosquitoes and several other interesting strategies that can be used to dissuade mosquitoes from lurking. These include:

Lemon eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora):
Lemon eucalyptus is a potent natural repellent extracted from the leaves of lemon eucalyptus trees. Discovered in the 1960s during mass screenings of plants used in Chinese traditional medicine, its essential oil, comprising 85 per cent citronellal, is used by cosmetic industries due to its fresh smell. However, it was discovered that the waste distillate remaining after hydro-distillation of the essential oil was far more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the essential oil itself.

Neem is widely advertised as a natural alternative to DEET, and it has been tested for repellency against a range of arthropods of medical importance, with variable results. Several field studies from India have shown very high efficacy of Neem-based preparations. For instance, one found that the neem/coconut oil mix provided between 96 and 100 per cent protection against several different species of mosquitoes.
However, the EPA has not approved neem for use as a topical insect repellent. Since it has a low dermal toxicity, when used undiluted, it can cause skin irritation, such as dermatitis.
 Due to the paucity of reliable studies, neem oil is not recommended as an effective repellent for use by travellers to disease endemic areas, although it may confer some protection against nuisance biting mosquitoes.

There is evidence that components of eucalyptus oil are as effective as DEET and in some cases more effective. Like citronella, which is present in lemon grass,  eucalyptus should be reapplied regularly to maintain protection.
Both Citronella and eucalyptus have a strong smell that is believed to confuse mosquitoes’ delicate sense of direction and taste, making it difficult for them to find a host. Both plants have the added bonus of doubling up as an antiseptic after bites.

Soybean oil
There is some evidence to show that soybean oil-based repellents provide long-lasting protection than citronella-based repellents. In some studies, a commercially available product called Bite Blocker provided complete protection against mosquito bites for as long as three to five hours.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine study found that Bite Blocker provided more than 90 minutes of protection against mosquitoes.
As with other natural insect repellents, soybean oil mixtures have a short lasting action than DEET – but then they are also safer and can be used by the whole family.

Basil repels house flies and mosquitoes. Aside planting basil in containers by the house doors to ward off mosquitoes, its fresh leaves can be used to make an insect repellent spray.

Lemon grass
Lemon grass has long been used in natural insect repellents which contain citronella oil. Native to Asia, the grass can grow up to six feet tall and is quite an attractive ornamental grass. To help deter mosquitoes with its strong fragrance, plant lemon grass along walkways and in locations close to seating areas.


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