This is a an updated version of an earlier narrative:
I have received a number of emails with queries from first time visitors to Tiruvannamalai (generally from overseas) asking for mosquito repellent advice. On browsing the internet, found a plethora of information about natural mosquito repellents, so thought it would be helpful to make a posting about how to protect yourself from pesky mosquitoes.
Nowadays all good hotels and apartments and most ashrams in Tamil Nadu will have quality mosquito screens on windows. However visitors often feel that they want additional protection with mosquito nets – generally facilities will NOT allow visitors to put up nets if it entails putting nails into the walls. So please assume that if you bring a mosquito net, it will be usually impossible to use at most facilities. However all facilities nowadays, if not having air conditioning, do have high speed fans – which is very effective in keeping mosquitoes away at night.
Natural mosquito repellents come in many forms. There are oils for your skin, plants to keep around, and even things you can eat. You can change your environment to make it less attractive to mosquitoes and you can even use foods to change your body’s chemistry.
A mosquito preventive that is quite common in Tamil Nadu is burning mosquito coils and increasingly more prevalent nowadays; electric mosquito repellent liquids that disperse through the air whenever the plug-in is switched on.
However both mosquito coils and electric plug-in mosquito repellents although very effective (especially in the case of the latter) are DEET-based. According to various studies DEET damages brain cells, causes behavioural changes, and can have harmful interactions with some medications. It was found that up to fifteen percent of DEET is absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream. The toxic effects of Diethyl-meta-toluaminde includes: reproductive disturbances, genetic material mutations, and central nervous system disorders.
|Nepeta Cataria: Catnip Plant|
So to keep healthy and also mosquito-free, below is a list of natural preventives that are both effective and safe. One cheap and easy mosquito preventive tip is to wear light clothing. Another is eat lots of garlic (mosquitoes hate garlic) either in your food or in the form of garlic capsules from your health food store. Another remedy straight from the kitchen is White Vinegar (two parts vinegar to one part plain water). This remedy is particularly effective if you plan on spending time outside (especially in the evenings). Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray skin and clothing before going out. As well as mosquitoes the solution also repels gnats, horse flies and ticks. For a good smell add a few drops of fragrant oil (e.g. lavender, citronella) to the bottle.
Below is a list of efficient mosquito natural repellents. Generally 3-5 drops of the various oil should be added to about a teaspoon of a base oil such as jojoba oil, sweet almond or coconut oil and placed on the exposed skin:-
Lavender Oil Lemon
Neem Oil or Neem Seed Oil
Organic Soy Oil
Black Pepper Oil
Blue Cypress Oil
A favourite natural mosquito repellent is the essential oil of the Nepeta Cataria (Catnip plant). This perennial herb is a member of the mint family and has many useful medicinal and household applications. One of which is being a very effective, natural mosquito repellent, which has been found to be ten times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes.
There are many preparations from naturally occurring sources that have been used as a repellent to certain insects. Some of these act as insecticides while others are only repellents. Check this link for a comprehensive list.
To view an excellent website which goes into detail about the various oils and gives information about how to make your own natural mosquito repellent. Go to this link here: