3 Greener Ways to Combat Dengue

  • Mar 20, 2015
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You've heard the news and you've seen the government campaigns in the media. Dengue can and will occur in any area where the residents are not vigilant enough about getting rid of mosquito breeding grounds, so it's important to take the necessary measures for the protection of your family. We look at a few ways to get rid of the pests in an eco-friendly manner. Dengue is no joke. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), there have been over 14,000 cumulative cases since beginning of last year. There are fatal cases as well, such as the case of an 86-year-old man who died of dengue fever despite receiving blood transfusions and supportive therapy at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. So really, it's no longer a matter of "ignore and it'll go away" or "it'll never happen to me because I don't live in a hotspot". We have to be wary of the dangers and pain that dengue will inflict on our family members if we're not vigilant.  

What Has Been Done So Far

The government, for most part, has taken a tough stance against the dengue problem-adopting a multi-pronged approach to control the onslaught of dengue. Among the main focuses of its approach, is the preventive surveillance and active control via the removal of mosquito breeding grounds. This means routine outdoor thermal fogging by a pest control operator (PCO). However, there are concerns that this may not be eco-friendly because it pollutes the environment. On top of this, it creates pesticide resistance in the mosquitoes as well as kill the mosquitoes' natural predators. Aside from the usual practices to eliminate the mosquitoes' breeding grounds, some residents have also resorted to using mosquito traps that emit carbon dioxide to lure mosquitoes to their death. Since carbon dioxide is known to cause global warming, this measure is not good for the environment in the long run. The constant use of insecticide/chemical sprays or burning of mosquito coils is not advisable either, since they compromise indoor air quality. So what are we to do against the pesky bugs? Here are some eco-friendly measures you can adopt at home. - Rear Guppies What better way to get rid of mosquitoes than with their natural predators? One great example is the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), which feeds on mosquito larvae and is a hardy fish that can survive in a variety of water conditions. In fact, it's a common practice for people in Thailand to keep large pots containing a few water plants and some guppies on their properties. Guppies are not only beautiful, they are also easy to care for so why not consider rearing a few guppies instead of using chemical means to keep the mosquito population down? - Use Mosquito Nets In the olden days when air-conditioning weren't that prevalent, mosquito nets made an effective barrier against invasive mosquitoes. It has had a long history of usage across the world so you know that it's something that definitely works. However, sleeping under the net does tend to be warmer as it reduces air flow to a certain extent so it's best to have the fan on at the same time. - Apply Natural Insect Repellents To combat mosquito bites, NEA recommends the careful use of insect repellents. In Singapore, the 3 main repellent active ingredients registered are DEET, Hydroyethyl Isobutyl Piperidine Carboxylate, and Ethyl Butylacetylamino-propionate. But before you turn to a repellent that has one of the aforementioned ingredients, you might want to consider a more natural option instead. DEET, especially, has had studies noting its harmful effects on your health. We did a search and found several alternatives you can try out:  

3 Greener Ways to Combat Dengue

1. Catnip Who knew that this herb is so powerful? Not only does it drive your cat into throes of ecstasy, it's a highly effective repellent against mosquitoes. In fact, research done at the Iowa State University have also showed that the essential oil found in this herb is 10 times more effective than DEET. You can purchase catnip from pet stores or its seeds/plant from local nurseries. combat-dengue-catnip   2. Citronella The essential oil that you can obtain from its leaves and stems will mask the smells that will normally attract mosquitoes to you. Look for the true varieties if you want a plant: Cymbopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. It's often confused with the lemongrass, but they're not the same.   3. Lavender Its essential oil is an effective mosquito repellent, but do use essential oils with care if you have a medical condition or are pregnant. Consult your doctor before using. combat-dengue-lavender   4. Fresh Garlic Apparently it provides a mild protection against mosquito bites when you take it orally or apply it to your skin! combat-dengue-garlic   5. Neem Some people believe that it makes a great mosquito repellent when you mix its essential oil with coconut oil. combat-dengue-neem   6. Soybean There are evidence to suggest that the soybean mosquito repellent lasts longer than citronella-based ones. They're also much safer to use than DEET.   7. Eucalyptus Like Citronella, it's a natural repellent that is believed to confuse the mosquitoes' sense of smell. combat-dengue-eucalyptus If you're making your very own home-made mosquito repellent, be sure to use amber or cobalt glass bottles as this will help prevent the deterioration of your essential oils within the mixture. Avoid using plastic bottles as the essential oil will eat away the plastic. Interesting, right? Have you tried any of these eco-friendly measures and found them to be effective against mosquitoes? Do share with us on our Facebook fan page!
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