12 August 2013

Mosquito Repellent Advice Tamil Nadu


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:- 

Lemongrass Oil 
Lavender Oil Lemon 
Eucalyptus Oil 
Neem Oil or Neem Seed Oil 
Organic Soy Oil 
Black Pepper Oil 
Blue Cypress Oil 
Peppermint Oil 
Basil Oil 
Geranium Oil 
Clove Oil 
Thyme 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

8 comments:

Divya said...

What do you, personally, use to ward off the mosquitoes? When I was in India, I tried the local natural repellent Odomos but it didn't work for me. I have delicious blood for the mosquitoes! I could not tolerate the coil smoke and tried the electric mats for several weeks but they gave me massive headaches - thank goodness, because DEET sounds positively scary! I did not know about all those other cures and wonder, how available are those natural oils in Indian stores? I always ended up having my parents send "OFF" cream from USA.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

I used to use the liquid plug in type. But have stopped now after reading all about DEET etc. I am a big fan user, and find that if the fan is whizzing about at a nice speed, the pesky mosquitoes get blown off course.

Other than that, I don't take any anti-mosquito precautions. My posting with list of natural repellents, is more for the folk that mosquitoes go after.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

On reflection, I think the best anti-mosquito programme for me will be to eat lots of garlic -- love garlic. And also the application of white vinegar (as mentioned in the posting).

Pure vinegar is just brilliant. It has so many uses for health and safety. I even use it on my doggies for all kinds of ailments.

Divya said...

Since you love garlic and are probably already eating a lot, maybe that is why your troubles with mosquitoes are less! Whereas I don't like garlic and rarely eat it.

White vinegar is a good idea, though. However here in USA in the area where I am located, we don't have any mosquitoes so I cannot try out any ideas here!

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Yesterday evening noticed that the pesky mosquitoes were beginning to get out of hand -- must be the fluctuating weather we have been having at Tiruvannamalai these last few weeks -- AND used citronella oil (pure form) as a mosquito repellent. Seemed to do a good job and I smelled VERY NICE.

Divya said...

Thanks for the update! I had heard of citronella oil many times before, good to remember it WORKS!

Knight Fox said...

What is the tamil name for Nepeta Cataria?

Meenakshi Ammal said...

In Tamil Nadu this plant goes by its Latin name of Nepeta Cataria.