Mosquito time is here again – oil of lemon eucalyptus to the rescue

Although not as bad as sandflies, mosquitoes are a major nuisance and especially irritating when you’re trying to get to sleep. The usual method of stopping them from getting you ranges from massively expensive screens to natural organic oils. There are also insect repellent products based on ultrasound but these have been shown to have absolutely no effect as a mosquito repellent.

Insect repellents help prevent and control the outbreak of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, Lyme disease, Dengue fever, bubonic plague, and West Nile fever. For this reason alone it is best not to ignore them and to let then dine on your blood.

Usually insect repellents work by masking human scent, or by using a scent which insects naturally avoid. Personally, I like to avoid chemical repellents and go for the natural one. Research has shown that, not taking into account killing ability, both chemical and natural repellents are effective. The main difference is the time of effectiveness.

“A test of various insect repellents by an independent consumer organization found that repellents containing DEET or picaridin are more effective than repellents with ‘natural’ active ingredients. All the synthetics gave almost 100% repellency for the first 2 hours, where the natural repellent products were most effective for the first 30–60 minutes, and required reapplication to be effective over several hours.”[1]

the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that oil of lemon eucalyptus to be the most effective plant-based treatments with a similar effectiveness to low concentrations of DEET[2] and a 2006 study found that a product containing 40% oil of lemon eucalyptus was just as effective as products containing high concentrations of DEET. Research has also found that neem oil is mosquito repellent for up to 12 hours and Citronella oil’s mosquito repellency has also been verified by research but requires reapplication after 30–60 minutes.

Citronella oil shows little or no toxicity and has been used as a topical insect repellent for 60 years although it may irritate skin and cause dermatitis in certain individuals. Unfortunately this cannot be said of the most common repellent, DEET.

The European Union has severely limited the number and type of insect repellents available to European Consumers. In general, only formulations containing Deet, Picaridin and Citridiol are available. Most “natural” insect repellents such as Citronella, Neem Oil, Herbal Extracts are no longer allowed for sale as insect repellents in the EU although they can be sold for “other” purposes, as long as the label does not say they are insect repellents.

So, its a thick coating of oil of lemon eucalyptus tonight.

Sources

[1] www.choice.com.au
[2] www.cdc.gov

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