Inexpensive tip to ward off mosquitoes...naturally - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Inexpensive tip to ward off mosquitoes...naturally

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

There are three confirmed cases of West Nile statewide; one of those cases is in East Texas.

Cities are already beginning to spray to prevent the spread of the disease as people stock up on mosquito repellent.

"Mosquitoes are attracted to one or two different things. One is carbon dioxide concentration. The other thing they are sensitive to is heat as well; body heat," explained Dr. Srini Kambhampati, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology for UT Tyler.

"The blood is what allows the female mosquito to actually lay the eggs. Only female mosquitoes feed on blood, male mosquitoes do not. So for once, the males are the good guys," laughed Kambhampati.

And it is those female mosquitoes that have us worried about West Nile.

However, Kambhampati said certain herbs and plants found at your local nursery can help ward off those pesky insects.

"Citronella and horse mint and lavender and plants like that that have a fairly strong smell; they work by simply overwhelming the smells around you. So, the mosquitoes are not able to zero in very easily to get to us so they are confused basically by the strong smells," said Kambhampati.

Sharon Lee Smith owns Blue Moon Gardens. She said those herbs and plants are becoming more and more popular among her customers.

"The most famous is the lemon-scented geranium called Citrosa that got so popular on t.v. years ago," Smith said.

She also recommends lemon balm, lemon verbena, catnip, catmint, rosemary and lavender. 

"The nice thing about Texas is when it heats up during the day, all the oils volatilize and you can smell all of these things which is why they kind of work for the mosquitoes because mosquitoes smell them, too, and go I think I'll go somewhere else. It's nice to be able to sit out in the evening without spraying chemicals on your body," Smith said.

Kambhampati said plants like mums and marigolds also contain a natural insecticde which can help keep those mosquitoes away.

In addition to this extra tool in fighting mosquitoes, experts still say the best defense is to remove standing water, use insect repellent and avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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