Science & Technology

Cocktail of plant oils can keep mosquitoes at bay

Researchers from the Indian Council of Medical Research have found a plant-based repellent which is as effective as chemical repellent

By Dinesh C Sharma
Published: Thursday 20 April 2017

Dr Nisha Mathew

Biting mosquitoes that generally thrive in hot weather are not only a nuisance but can also spread serious diseases. Now scientists say a simple cocktail of aromatic oils from plants like tulsi, pudina and nilgiri can keep mosquitoes away.

Among many ways of evading bites from infective mosquitoes, personal protection measures are very common. The most popular of them is the use of chemical repellents like DEET which is the main active ingredient of commercially available repellents. These products are generally considered safe but inappropriate use may cause irritation of skin.

Researchers at the Vector Control Research Centre of the Indian Council of Medical Research have found a plant-based repellent which is as effective as chemical repellent. The new repellent is a combination of essential oils from four common herbal plants – Ocimum sanctum or tulsi, Mentha piperita or pudina,Eucalyptus globules or niligiri and Plectranthus amboinicus or Indian mint.

Setup of the experiment

The blend of these oils has been found effective to prevent the bite of host blood-seeking Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. “Our study has identified potential of an essential oil blend made from the four plants as a botanical mosquito repellent against Aedes aegypti which is the vector of dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever,” said Dr Nisha Mathew, Deputy Director, Unit of Chemistry, ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre. The study results have been published in journal Parasitology Research.

The study compared effectiveness of the oil blend with chemical repellents based on DEET. In the case of the oil blend, no landing of mosquitoes was seen up to six hours and it could repel mosquitoes or prevent them from feeding as in the case of DEET even at a lower concentration of 5%.

Researchers said long-term studies with animal and human subjects need to be carried out with different concentrations and formulations for assessing exact protection time and effective dose of  the repellent blend. (India Science Wire)

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