Fight the sting naturally

LUDHIANA: Monsoon is a season that charms all with the rain and keeps all mesmerized. Everyone seems to be in absolute love with the weather. However, besides the downpour, the cool breeze and the blossoming flowers, the season also brings with it tiring overnights wherein one has to fight with the mosquitoes. However, smart as Ludhianvis are, they have found herbal alternatives to the problem.

Some plants like marigolds, lemongrass, mint and citronella are believed to keep the blood-sucking insects at bay! These plants don"t just beautify your place but also helps prevent sleepless nights during the season. "Children usually play during the evenings since the afternoons are hot and they take their siesta. But the mosquitoes always tend to spoil their outdoor fun," says Monika Ahuja, mother of a five-year-old from Sarabha Nagar.

Harshita Gupta, mother of a 10-year-old from Civil Lines, says, "Mosquito bites often led to itching and rash. My son Arav itches badly and the skin often swells as well. They play in the open during the evenings and you can"t stop them. So if planting a few specific plants can help deter mosquitoes, then I guess there is no harm in doing so."

Going the natural way is always advisable. Chemicals used in mosquito repellants are not always good for the health and the environment. According to Dr J S Arora, retired head of department of floriculture department in PAU, the Nature has its own powers of healing and these plants are very successful in keeping mosquitoes away. "These are easy to grow and maintain and some of them are edible too. For instance, you can always put in some lemongrass leaves while making tea. It gives a added flavor," he adds.

Plants that repel mosquitoes

Citronella Grass: One of the main natural ingredients found in most of the mosquito repellents, citronella grass, grows best in hot climate. The citronella oil is put in candles and lanterns that can be burned in the yard to repel mosquitoes. However, if you simply have citronella grass in your garden, you can keep the mosquitoes away naturally.

Marigolds: This is the ideal time for planting marigolds so that they can start flowering in the coming months. The flower"s colours range from lemon yellow to dark oranges and reds. Their peculiar fragrance helps keep the humans and insects alike away. They help ward off insects that can attack vegetable plants and aphids and also keeps the mosquitoes away. Additionally, they are pretty and hence add colour to your garden place.

Lemongrass: Containing natural citronella oil, this grass-like plant smells superb. It has a great aroma and a dual taste of citrus-cum-ginger. With its botanical name as cymbopogon ciatrus, the plant is edible too. While some use it in tea, it is an active ingredient in Asian cuisines, especially Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese. It is a great mosquito repellant because of its aroma. Furthermore, you can even extract its oil by simply rolling it on your finger.

Neem: One of the strongest mosquito repellant plants, the neem plant has insect repelling properties. The market boasts off a number of mosquito repellents and balms with neem extracts. One can easily rub neem leaves on the skin to ward off mosquitoes. Neem can be grown in any open area and this plant also helps fight malaria effectively.