Image: It's time to combat mosquito with repellent strategies
Nobody likes to have mosquitoes hanging around the house — not only are they irritating but some also carry viruses that are harmful to humans. There are some plants that repel insects, including mosquitoes, and although they may not have been proven effective, some people still have them around, hoping that they will help make their homes less friendly to bugs.

Shaan Lalwani, a young horticulturist and landscaping designer based in Mumbai, India, shares his top five favourite plants that can repel mosquitoes. These plants can be added to your garden, yard or balcony, although you may need a number of them to be effective. Their leaves can also be crushed and rubbed onto the skin to keep mosquitoes at bay. To avoid an allergic reaction, do try it on a small part of the skin first.

1. Peppermint/horsemint/spearmint
Oil from the peppermint plant has been evaluated for larvicidal activity against different species of mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Anopheles. In fact, it was found that mosquitoes are not the only insects that hate the smell of peppermint. Ants, spiders, cockroaches, ticks, mice and even lice will be repelled too.

Planting tips: Well-drained soil; partial to full sunlight (three to four hours); 30 to 50ml of water for a six-inch pot, avoid waterlogging.

2. Rosemary
This plant has been used for centuries to keep pesky mosquitoes away. Researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea have found that rosemary volatiles repelled mosquitoes as well as or even better than diethyltoluamide (DEET), and that the volatiles lasted as long as DEET.

Planting tips: Well-drained red soil, add coco peat or small stones to make it more permeable; partial to full sunlight (two to three hours); 30 to 50ml of water for a six-inch pot, avoid waterlogging.

3. Carnivorous plants
Nepenthes or pitcher plants and venus flytraps “eat” mosquitoes and other small insects rather than repel them. Insects are drawn into the pitchers by their attractive scent and sometimes colourful pigmentation.

Planting tips: Poor nutrient-free soil; generally likes bright sunlight without much direct sun; 30 to 50ml of water for a six-inch pot, use distilled, rain or well water only.

4. Citrosa
This is a popular natural insect repellent. Its qualities have been verified by research, including its effectiveness against Aedes mosquitoes. The plant is actually a variety of the scented geranium that produces the citronella scent when the leaves are crushed.
Planting tips: Well-drained soil; full outdoor sunlight; 30 to 50ml of water for a six-inch pot, avoid waterlogging.

5. Catnip
We all know cats love catnip, but not mosquitoes. The oil from the leaves has been proven to be 10 times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. Apart from its intoxicating effect on cats and repelling mosquitoes, the leaves make a very soothing tea as well.

Planting tips: Light, well-drained soil; can be kept both indoors and outdoors; 30 to 80ml of water for a six-inch pot.

I still have my faithful old electric bat that acts as terminator. But these mosquitoes keep coming back in droves. Maybe it is time for me to change my Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ strategy from corrective measures (killing) to preventive measures.

Image above: 'A mosquito bat.' If all else, revert back to the good old bat. I have one just like this beside my computer. So, you can expect to see dead mosquitoes on my table while I'm working at it. A lot of deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya are caused by the mosquitoes. So it is good to take this insect matter seriously or else if fate has it, we may be in serious trouble...

Shaan Lalwani

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