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Mosquito eradication is, especially since the advent of dengue fever, a priority and keeping these pests out of your living environment is more of a necessity than ever.

Natural mosquito repellents, in the form of plants and their extracts, are a great way of deterring mosquitoes from homes, gardens and from landing on human skin, when correctly placed or used.

Top of the list are all members of the mint family: apple mint, lemon mint, pennyroyal, spearmint and regular green mint are excellent examples. Mints are easy to cultivate, requiring medium soil, partial shade and regular watering.

Plants can be purchased at nurseries from Rs 35 upwards or grown from seeds which should cost about Rs 40 per packet. Mint flourishes in pots on windowsills, in bathrooms, kitchens, balconies and verandahs or can be grown directly in the garden. Hanging bunches of mint in doorways deters mosquitoes from entering the house.

Lemon balm and lemon grass are both top ranking mosquito deterrents and can be cultivated in pots or in the garden itself. Lemon balm is an extremely useful herb which is easily grown from seed – this should cost approximately Rs 40 per packet while lemon grass plants can be purchased at nurseries from Rs 100 upwards depending on size.

Lavender is another active deterrent but can be difficult to cultivate in the south of the country. Lavender plants are available in Islamabad, from Rs 100 per plant, where they flourish from autumn to spring. Marigolds, rosemary, sage and thyme are also claimed to have mosquito repellent properties.

Some plant extracts, in the form of costly essential oils, are renowned for their mosquito repellent properties, and the best of these are basil, eucalyptus, geranium and ginger. Essential oils can cost from Rs 250 to Rs 1,000. Depending on type, these can be burnt in special oil burners or applied directly on to the skin.

— Zahrah Nasir

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 16, 2012