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Posted at: Apr 14, 2018, 12:55 AM; last updated: Apr 14, 2018, 12:55 AM (IST)GREEN HOUSE

Keep insects at bay

Keep insects at bay

Amarjeet Batth

As the temperatures rise in the region, different types of insects also become active. Green grass, flowers in pots and the regular watering of these areas generally lead to the presence of mosquitoes, flies, ants and other bugs. These insects can cause dangerous diseases like dengue and malaria and it is for these reasons that many gardening enthusiasts prefer to reduce their gardening activites during summer months. However, there are certain plants that can be used to repel some of these insects and help in keeping your home garden “healthy”. There is natural ability in plants to repel insects from eating them. When the plant is injured it emanates volatile oils which are offensive to insects. These are either toxic or repellent or confusing making it difficult for insects to find edible food sources. Lemon basil, sage, thyme, neem and marigold are some of the plants that can be planted in pots asnd kept near the windows and doors to reduce the number of mosquitoes entering the house. These pots can also be kept indoors on rotation basis to repel “troublesome” insects. 

Some such plants are:

Lemon basil

Basil plant releases scent naturally and it is this unique trait which makes it an excellent natural mosquito repellent . Lemon basil and cinnamon basil have the most potent mosquito repelling abilities. Planting these in pots and keeping those around living spaces can be very effecitve.

Wild sage

Latana camara, also known as wild sage, is also planted for its ornamental value. Rubbing its leaves on your skin can give relief from mosquito bites. 

Lemon grass

Oil of citronella is derived from the lemongrass plant, Cymbopogon. Citronella is a popular natural insect-repellent, and is used as a component in many skin-care products, such as balms, sunscreens and repellents.

Thyme

Thymol is the essential oil derived from thyme. Plants from this genus are used in several dishes and also have medicinal properties.

Neem

Azadirachta indica, commonly known as ‘neem’ is widely known as a natural insect repellent. Its leaves are also used as a natural pesticide. 

Lemon eucalyptus

Corymbia citriodora is a tall tree known for its aromatic essential oils. It contains p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) and other compounds which have quite remarkable mosquito-repelling qualities.

Marigold

The flowers and leaves of this plant have a distinctive fragrance which keep the mosquitoes away to some extent. This plant is also grown as a companion plant since it repels white flies, aphids, cabbage maggots among other pests.

A word of caution

However, merely planting these plants will not ensurecomplete freedom from mosquitoes. These plants do have deterring properties, but it is important to know when, for how long and how far these are effective. Repellent oils are not released continuously. Ratio of plantation volume to the area to be covered is important. Remember that these plants are good natural repellents, but do not provide a foolproof protection. 

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