By Hwaa Irfan
As we go into spring at top gear, with summer seeming to knock on the door a bit too hurriedly, one of the habits we might be inclined to re-initiate is that of zapping every life form that crawls and has wings. As we do that we not only compromise our immune systems, but we also prevent our homes being the relaxing place that it can as we take time out from the hustle and bustle of the world outside, we are spending more than we need to. Some of nature’s insect repellents can serve a double purpose, like the herbs we use for cooking, and others are pleasant to the beholder. Growing them in your home in a pot, or on a balcony would just add to the ambience of your home. Here are some natural insect repellents worth considering:
Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) – This is not only a natural insecticide disliked by flies and mosquitoes, but used fresh it has more flavour the dried stuff one buys in the supermarket. It goes well with any tomato-based dish, and it contains: calcium, iron, potassium and Vitamin C.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – with bright yellow flowers, Calendula is of the marigold family and left to germinate, they make a great insecticide. The petals were once used in cooking and added to salads, soups, and they also make a great substitute for saffron. Medicinal wise you can’t go wrong, because they are good for upper respiratory tract infections, and is a good anti-inflammatory.
Catnip (Nepata cataria) does not have beautiful blossoms like Calendula, but it is an effective insecticide, especially when it comes to cockroaches, , ants, aphids, and the flea beetle, and would you believe it rats don’t like it either! It makes a good tea if one has problems sleeping, and it also helps one to relax. Word of caution though, pregnant women, and those who suffer from epilepsy should not consume it!
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – with its attractive bloom, the Chrysanthemum repels spider mites, ticks, and cabbage worms. As a herb the blossoms can be used dried as a teas being rich in calcium, sodium, folates and Vitamin A.
Spearmint (Mentha viridis) – is popular in cooking, but growing a pot in the home, would allow the smell to life the spirits as it does. The only thing is mice do not like mint at all, even sprinkled on food, so there’s a thought! Equally mint is disliked by aphids and fleas.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – a woody herb that adds a distinct flavour to cooking and is much hated by all bugs! For those in the Southern Hemisphere, rosemary tea helps to take off the chill. It is also good for amenorrhea, exhaustion, poor digestion, poor memory and arthritic aches and pains.
Lemongrass (genus Cymbopogon) – This genus includes citronella which you might see on your supermarket shelves being sold as an insect repellent. It is obviously cheaper to grow a pot in the home.
If you are no so inclined, but would like a natural insect repellent check out the following essential oils that one burn in one’s home in the form of vapour therapy: