Mosquitoes are among Singapore’s most pesky bugs. Here are five natural mosquito repellents.
4 November 2022
“Mosquito” – Spanish for “little fly” and now used internationally to refer to the blood-sucking nuisance found almost everywhere in the world. Mosquitoes prefer warm, humid climates with available ground water for breeding: a recipe that makes Singapore prime real estate for the mosquito population. Mosquitoes are active in Singapore throughout the whole year, though June to October is the peak period of concern.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes are much more dangerous than mere annoyances. Mosquitoes are known across the world as some of the most prolific spreaders of disease (especially to human populations). Certain types of mosquitos have been known to spread diseases such as the West Nile Virus, Chikungunya virus, Zika virus, Malaria and Dengue fever. This means a mosquito bite can be very dangerous – even though at first it only seems a little itchy.
Singapore is actually in the process of testing a new method of controlling the mosquito problem. The Wolbachia project is a new approach to combating mosquito growth whereby infertile lab-reared male mosquitoes are released into the wild to mate with wild females and produce nonviable eggs.
This has already led to a great reduction of the mosquito population, by as much as 90% in some areas. However, this is not the time to let you’re your guard – especially with the rising cases of Dengue across the country.
There are a few standard ways to keep mosquitoes away from your home. The majority of them will require you to use some sort of chemical (usually picaridin or DEET) to kill or repel the mosquitoes. These are effective, but prolonged exposure to harmful chemicals could cause damage to your lungs. Another option is a mosquito trap or bug zapper. These are extremely effective, but can be quite costly. A neat middle ground is plants.
Certain plants have natural fragrances that will repel insects. Thankfully, this is the case for mosquitos. Planting or potting mosquito repellent plants in your outdoor areas (and even just around the house) can help protect you and your guests from mosquitoes without exposing you to any harmful chemicals. It is a great way to make use of the natural world, and gardening is rewarding enough on its own (not to mention the air purifying capabilities of some plants).
Where you place the plants is very important as they will not have the wide reaching effect that many chemical sprays do. You want to make sure that these plants are as close to your outdoor seating areas as possible, and in as great a number as you can manage. You should also be aware of the effectiveness of each plant – some plants that repel mosquitos only have internal oils that the mosquitoes do not like, so you would have to crush up their leaves to achieve the full effect. To inform your natural insect repellent curiosity, here is a list of the most effective plants that repel insects.
Lavender is a beautiful, low maintenance plant that is popular across the world for its smell. Lucky for us, it is also very effective at keeping mosquitoes away. Lavender contains a compound known as linalool, which humans find pleasant, and mosquitoes find overwhelming. Interestingly enough, lavender produces a similar effect in mosquitoes as DEET.
On top of this, dried lavender can help to repel moths and other insects from wardrobes. Lavender is often used in cooking (although be sure that you have the right type) and can be used to make an ointment which relieves the itchiness of mosquito bites. Lavender oil is particularly potent against mosquitos, with a 93% repellent rate inside and 53% outside.
Rosemary is another easy to grow, low maintenance plant with a smell that humans enjoy and mosquitoes despise. Rosemary oil is the most potent form of Rosemary for mosquito repellent purposes, but the herb itself emits a woody scent that can mask the smell of humans (mosquitoes may not even know to find you). Rosemary has a number of other uses but is especially popular in cooking. It will also repel flies, cabbage moths and other insects.
Rosemary is a fairly low maintenance plant. It will thrive in a sunny spot with direct sunlight for at least 6 – 8 hours daily. Rosemary does best with well drained soil in a place that is protected from cold winds.
Interestingly enough, the majority of bugs (and even rodents) seem to have something against peppermint. The major chemical compounds in peppermint oil include methanol (which is very soothing for human skin), and terpene. Presumably, the bugs and rodents can smell all of this whilst all we smell is a fresh, clean spice.
Peppermint is extremely easy to care for. In fact, it spreads so rapidly that most gardeners choose to keep it contained in pots. Peppermint performs best when placed in an area with filtered sun and relatively moist soil. It is a popular herb for cooking, flavouring, tea, ointment, and aiding health conditions.
Lemongrass contains citronella oil which helps to mask the scents that mosquitoes use to track down their hosts (lactic acid and carbon dioxide). Lemongrass can actually kill mosquitoes when applied directly to them. However, lemongrass is toxic to dogs – be sure to check out guide to plants that are safe for pets.
Lemongrass does best in rich, free draining soil with at least half a day of full sun. It is a popular herb in many different recipes and will be an asset to your home.
Citronella is another herb that helps to mask the scent mosquitoes follow. It will also repel the mosquitoes upon their arrival and can even help to sooth mosquito bites when applied to the skin.
Citronella needs a lot of moisture, about six hours of sun a day, and lots of drainage. It also has beautiful purple flowers which will make your balcony come alive during the blooming period.
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