With the condition of our neighborhoods today, talking about our tier 1 cities, garbage piled up at every corner and potholes at every few steps, mosquitoes are an integral part of our lives and their menace is inescapable, something that every Indian has to deal with. To shoo off mosquitoes, bugs and insects, a wide variety of things have been used since times past like smoke, ayurvedic oils, plant extracts and creams and of course the quintessential mosquito net.
The modernization of our society totally got rid of the humble mosquito net that was once found in every household and replaced it with a whole array of alternatives. The first to come on the scene was mosquito coils and mats and even before that was the cream Odomos. As a kid I remember having this cream smeared all over our hands and legs before getting to bed and for us kids its strong odor was asleep repellent too. So it never got anywhere close to the face of course.
Mosquito coils and mats had to be propped up on a metal stand and burnt the whole night. They became popular because the fumes they emitted kept the mosquitoes at bay effectively, even in a large room. It was in great use for a few years but due to the harmful effects of its smoke that led to breathing problems, especially in children, it got quickly replaced by oil diffusers. The first brand that comes to mind is Good Knight. It really was a knight in shining armor, a savior of sorts. The vapor of scented oils from the diffuser was very soothing compared to the burning coils and smoke. These oil mosquito repellents worked in electric machines and their limitation was the availability of an electric socket. So in an outdoor setting one had to use other alternatives like the coils again or creams or sprays even. Eventually non-electric diffusers also came into the fray but even these were again not good for health and doctors would advise to avoid using them.
Why someone should not use chemical repellents
DEET is the main chemical found in the chemical based repellents and it has been in use because of its effectiveness and ease of production. According to research, prolonged use of DEET has shown some adverse effects like redness, swelling, rashes and skin irritation and very rarely even neurological effects such as seizures have been reported.
Today hundreds of such products are available in the market for outdoor and indoor use, right from sprays, oils, candles, body sprays, clothing roll-ons, creams, lotions, baby oils and wipes and the famous brands topping the Indian charts are Odomos, Mortein, Good Knight, Baygon, Repel and BugOff.
Why Non-chemical repellents are the best
Non-chemical based repellents are made from natural oils like Citronella, Lemon Eucalyptus oil, Lavender and Neem oil. Since these are naturally available they are the safest to use on skin and clothing. Some of the brands most popular in the markets are Catche, RunBugz herbal patches for babies, and CamPure camphor sticks, Moskito Safe, AuraDecor and the list is endless. There are magnetic mosquito repellents, mosquito traps and ultrasonic repellents also available. These are nontoxic but a bit on the higher side cost and maintenance wise. Also most of these devices either work on electricity or a battery.
Natural and Safe ways to get rid of Mosquitoes Inside the house
1. Mosquitoes Repellent Oil for Babies
There are a lot of effective and safe mosquito repellents available for your baby. Check out this link for a list of products.
- RunBugz Smiley patches for babies. These patches are made from 100% pure essential oils like Citronella, Peppermint and Eucalyptus. They are chemical and DEET free. They are for external use only and should be applied on the skin. They can be stuck on to baby prams, cots, clothes, school bags etc and since they are waterproof they are ideal for outdoors.
2. Mangalam CamPure Original Camphor Cone doubles up as a room freshner.
3. Mamearth mosquito repllent gel is dermatologically tested and safe for babies, DEET and alcohol free. Its a blend of natural oils like Citronella, lemongrass and lavender oil. This comes in a 50 mL tube costing Rs. 99 only.
Mosquito agarbatti are quite effective but in a limited area and should be mostly used outdoors. Also they are a bit messy and cumbersome to use. Even though the smoke keeps away mosquitoes, the particulate matter inhaled does eventually harm the lungs. Hence these would not be at the top of my list or preference. A few names available would be Mostick herbal mosquito repellent, Sleep Well Mosquito Agarbatti, Citronella natural incense sticks.
There are mosquito repellents available that emit a high frequency sound, ultrasonic sounds, that is not caught by human ear as it is beyond our range of hearing frequency but the mosquitoes hear it and perceiving danger, keeps them away. It is claimed that these are effective and pollution free way of dealing with the mosquito menace but some say these are not as effective. There are even apps that when downloaded and run on your phone, make your phone emit ultrasonic sounds that repel mosquitoes. I have personally tried this and not found it effective. In fact the device broke on the first day of use itself. A few names are Peston Electric insect killer, Shakti ultrasonic pest control repellent, etc.
Also called as bug zappers, these devices emit light to which flying insects are attracted and get electrocuted by the electric grid surrounding the light source. Unfortunately mosquitoes are not attracted to light but to the carbon dioxide and water vapour in the breath of mammals. So they are not effective on mosquitoes. There are devices now available which also emits carbon dioxide, relatively new in the market, which may be effective in repelling mosquitoes.
Another type of mosquito lamps are those that emit UV lights attracting the mosquitoes and a strong wind from a built in fan then sucks them in and kills them. These devices look promising and should be tried.
These work on the same principle as the mosquito lamps, except they will some amount of exercise going behind the mosquitoes with your bat in hand. They run on a battery and were being widely sold when they were new in the market but not so anymore.
6. Mosquito Net
These are one of the oldest and safest ways to avoid a mosquito bite and ensure a good night’s rest. In earlier days, cots used to come equipped with rods to hang the mosquito net. Today there are foldable mosquito nets that are easy to open up and install and they are easy to maintain and store as well. They have a zipper on either sides for easy entry and exit. They come in all sizes, right from a baby’s crib size to a king size bed and since they are foldable, they can be easily carried with you eg. an outdoor camp or vacation. Once we get used to its installation, I think it would even give a cozy home feel when away from home. With a little care, they last long and are very economical.
It is inevitable to use one of these products to stay safe from mosquitoes and bugs especially during the rainy and summer seasons. There are a lot of products out there to choose from but in my opinion the most effective one would still be the humble mosquito net. It is safe, nontoxic and still the best way of ensuring an undisturbed, good night’s sleep.
So be wise and choose the best option for your family, stay safe from mosquitoes and enjoy this rainy season !