Cruelty free ways to repel insects

STOP PESTS: Mal Cullen from Boyd’s Bay Garden World with a lemon-scented geranium, which is a natural mosquito repellant.
STOP PESTS: Mal Cullen from Boyd’s Bay Garden World with a lemon-scented geranium, which is a natural mosquito repellant.

IF YOU fancy a virtually mosquito-free life without all the chemicals, a green thumb may be the thing to help.

Boyd's Bay Garden World nursery spokesman Mal Cullen said insect-repelling plants had become quite popular.

"A lot of people want to stop bugs from eating other plants or from biting them," he said.

Mr Cullen said any strongly scented plant would help, as their perfume often distracted bugs, but he warned most mosquito-repelling plants wouldn't work unless the oil was released.

He said placing plants like the citronella geranium along paths where their leaves could be lightly crushed by activity would make for an effective mosquito deterrent.

"You should definitely plant them around any outdoor seating area," he said.

And there are other natural options.

Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers bat co-ordinator Rhonda Miller said microbats ate 40% of their body weight in insects each night - and they're quite fond of mosquitoes.

Ms Miller said if your garden looked safe and comfortable, microbats were more likely to visit.

She said protected spaces like nesting boxes or peeling tree bark could encourage them to stay.

"If you have loose bark on your trees, don't pull it back," Ms Miller said.

Ms Miller said nesting boxes should be made from natural materials like timber and sheltered by a tree or the eaves of your house.

"They have to have something to grip onto," she said.

Ms Miller said it was important not to touch a microbat with bare hands.

If you find a microbat in danger, call Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers hotline: 02 6672 4789.

A spokesman for NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service said a native garden would be more inviting for mosquito-hungry critters.

Kill-free mozzie solutions

  • If you have a pond, install a fountain. The constant water movement won't appeal to mosquito mums. Native fish will eat mosquitoes and larvae while adding life to your pond.
  • Put sand in the saucer of pot plants to soak up excess water.
  • Clean out bird baths regularly.
  • Clean your gutters.
  • Tyre swings or anything else that holds stagnant water is a mosquito risk. Drill holes to let water drain.
  • If you have a rainwater tank or septic tank, make sure there are no openings for mosquitoes to enter and lay eggs.
  • Visit and sign up for the newsletter.

What is a vector-borne disease?

A vector-borne disease is transmitted by a carrier; for example, mosquitoes pick up the virus which causes Ross river fever or the barmah forest virus, then transmits it on to humans when feeding.

2011 NSW Health statistics show Ross River Fever was the most common vector-borne disease in the state (577 cases), followed closely by Barmah Forest Virus Infection (459 cases).

In the 2012-13 financial year, the Tweed-Byron health district had 44 reported cases of Ross River fever and 74 reported cases of Barmah Forest Virus.

Deputy director of Public Health Greg Bell said while there's not usually a huge threat, Australians still need to be cautious of mosquito-transmitted diseases.

"Although vector borne diseases are down - they still persist - people still need to protect themselves against mosquito bites," Mr Bell said.

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