Guatemala /Oct 13, 2016

Mosquito Repellent – The Natural Way

As someone who contracted malaria many years ago, all and any methods of avoiding mosquitoes has always been a subject of strong personal interest.

Of course one can pop into almost any chemist and load up on insect repellent and most, especially those containing DEET, will do an effective job. However, concerns about the chemicals used in these products, and their effect on the environment, has led to a growing interest in more natural methods of protection.

A trawl of the internet will provide a wide number of entirely organic options, most drawing on knowledge and ingredients that populations in affected areas have long been aware of. Neem, citronella and eucalyptus oil are all commonly used ingredients.

On a trip to the Mayan sites of Ceibal & Aguateca in Guatemala mosquitoes were a major problem (indeed I advise avoiding this specific area in September & October). A liberal dousing of insect repellent meant that I wasn’t bitten, just continuously buzzed, but what was noticeable was what the local workers were using.

Ceibal, through the smoke

The area around both sites is surrounded by dense jungle, including palm trees. The nuts from these palm trees, smaller versions of coconuts, have an oil that acts as a natural deterrent to mosquitoes. In order to release these oils, every worker carried with them a small metal pot, with long handles, and then filled the pot with palm nuts which they then lit; the resulting smoke (and they do give off a lot) didn’t clear the immediate vicinity of mosquitoes but it certainly helped.

Although primarily used by the local workers, visitors can pay a small consideration and rent their own little pot to carry around with them. The actual nuts can be found scattered on the ground throughout the site so it is easy enough to top-up on ‘supplies’, a free and environmentally friendly resource right at your feet.

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