In a country (Thailand) where even so-called healthy restaurants will happily pop a mosquito coil under your table, I was surprised (but actually not) to see people afraid to even READ my mosquito coil post, Part 1. Missed it? Here it is Again.
Why? As one friend so eloquently put it, "I don't want to know!! It's bad enough dodging Dengue bullets for months on end, without feeling that nothing I use is safe!"
Mosquito coils AREN'T SAFE. Even the so-called natural ones with citronella and eucalyptus essential oils, because of the incredibly high levels of dangerous PM 2.5 particles they emit in enclosed spaces. One coil emits the equivalent of 73-131 cigarettes!! Not to mention the formaldehyde. If your 'natural' brand claims to be using musk, toss it immediately - LOL - natural musk is almost unobtainable and certainly unaffordable, even by perfumers; used commercially it is almost always synthetic and a serious endocrine disrupting chemical. Nothing natural about that, ever.
But my friend had a good point. It can be overwhelming to learn what you're using is dangerous if you don't know what else to do. This Part 2 post was always planned and is deliberately separate - there is a LOT of information and it matters that it's absorbed systematically.
OK. So you know how dangerous the mosquito coils are, you've tossed yours out and you're determined to ask for it to be removed anytime you can see or smell one in a restaurant.
How can you protect yourself, or your customers and guests?
When you understand the basics about mosquitoes, you can easily dramatically reduce the number in your own immediate environment, and you can protect yourself, your family and your customers & guests without resorting to harmful chemicals.
- mosquitoes rarely fly more than 200 metres
- mosquitoes HATE moving air
- mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours
- mosquitoes are attracted to the bacteria in stale sweat
- mosquitoes are attracted to people who eat high levels of sugars - alcohol, fruit and carbs all count as sugars - in fact, fruitarians are among the most vulnerable
- Vitamin B deficiency seems to make you more attractive to mosquitoes
- mosquitoes breed in still water
- mosquitoes are repelled by certain highly fragrant natural plant oils
- mosquitoes generally prefer to hang low
- mosquitoes like dark spaces
- mosquitoes attack ankles, lower legs and feet more than other body parts in hot climates - the blood vessels are closest to the surface when you're hot and they're inherently looking for an easy lunch.
So how do you put that all together into a PRACTICAL list of things you can do for little to no expense? My list looks like this:
Wear light, loose, cotton or natural fibers in LIGHT COLOURS. No dark colours. Cover up and always launder clothes after one wearing in a hot climate.
Shower OFTEN. 3-4 times a day is not too often in a climate where mosquitoes are feral and it's sticky-sweaty hot. Rinse your feet even more often. The 'inconvenient' wet Thai bathroom with the bidet spray suddenly becomes a plus. Change out of the sweaty yoga or sports clothes immediately and take a shower. Running a yoga studio? Install a shower for everyone to use!
Rid your home and surrounds of unwanted still water - plant saucers and still ponds without fish are a big no no, as are old tires, tins and junk laying about. Change the water in flower vases daily.
ATTRACT mosquitoes deliberately to pretty still ponds (with larvae eating special little fish) to BREAK THEIR BREEDING CYCLE. 2 or 3 around your home makes a world of difference. They also attract dragonflies, who eat an estimated 1000 mosquitoes a day. Water plants such as lotus and papyrus encourage dragonflies.
Make some dietary adjustments. More salads, less fruit. Cut your alcohol intake if you're especially vulnerable. Black or dark red rice instead of white or brown (much higher Vitamin B content). Eat whole organic eggs (best bio-available form of B complex).
You can make LOVELY mosquito-repellent plant pots using local herbs and flowers. Lemongrass, basil, citronella, lemon-scented geraniums, thyme, peppermints.... there are SOOO MANY mosquito repelling plants! Check it out using #ecosia or another great search engine. Scatter a few interesting plant pots around the perimeter of your outdoor sitting area or next to windows and doorways. PRO TIP: marigolds and peppermint work well together and are both abhorrent to snakes as well.
Choose the well ventilated restaurant table at the front on the street, instead of the private but dark, mosquito-infested one at the back.
Putting cheap salt down bathroom drains at night and keeping plug holes covered when sinks and baths are not in use discourage swarms of them breeding and flying out of your plumbing - that S bend has a LOT to answer for!!
Use an electric mosquito zapper. We have a couple of small ones purchased at Makro locally for under $15. They work great. It has a small fan inside: the light draws the mosquito close (especially in dark corners) and the fan sucks them in. I use mine under the bed for 30 mins in a dark bedroom while I'm getting ready for sleep. It has a small drawer in the bottom for easy cleaning and you will be AMAZED at how many of the tiny mosquitoes it removes in a day.
Most importantly, STAY in moving air. Ask for a fan. But here it gets a bit tricky. SOOO OFTEN in Asia, the fans are placed far too high, so they are not effective. Education is everything. Have your fans at floor level and be amazed at how mosquito free the whole place suddenly becomes.
Please, don't place your fans like this:
All that does is push them to fly down lower (to avoid upper moving air) - you are MORE LIKELY to get bitten when the fans are positioned like this, as the mosquitoes take refuge under tables and desks where they are closer to your yummy ankles.
As a LAST RESORT and when you can't control your environment use a great, natural insect repellent. Why not use DEET? Apart from being classified as carcinogenic by the USFDA (as in cancer causing) it can make you sick with flu like symptoms (often mistaken for jet lag), causes tummy upsets (often misdiagnosed as 'some bad street food I ate'), causes infertility issues, and has been shown to cause 3rd generation birth defects in animal lab studies. Why isn't it illegal? You tell me. The citronella sprays DO work, but only for a very short period of time, and only for some varieties of mosquito. The two most effective anti-mosquito plant extracts are Neem extract, and clove essential oil. They have a particularly long efficacy and are effective across ALL varieties of mosquito. My business, Pure Thai Natural Co. Ltd combines both of these, together with basil essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, citronella essential oil and phlai essential oil.
We use an ethyl alcohol base for a very specific reason, which you'll see in this super-sweet and amazing little video from NHKworld:
No need to cover yourself all over with mosquito repellent - if you are freshly showered and in light coloured clothing, a few squirts to the lower legs, feet and ankles should be plenty.
Travelling with a mosquito net is SMART, and recommended. If you get to Thailand, they're available in every local market for under $20 and can be donated to a refugee support agency when you leave.
SO BE SMART. Protect Yourself Naturally. FORGET the wretched and dangerous mosquito coils (and incense!). And enjoy all that glorious rainy season days and long tropical nights have to offer - minus the mosquitoes.
Enjoying to share my natural Thai world with you.
Originally published on my own blog, Natural Thai Life - come find us there for more about the natural Thai world - travel tips, destinations, products, food, plants and herbs, and cool places to visit.