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Natural repellents

Dawn Gibson
Monday, March 03, 2014

CONSTANTLY purchasing repellents so you can comfortably sit on your balcony without the annoyance of insects can be pricey — particularly if, like me, you have a large family who all need to use it.

By the time you've all sprayed yourselves, the repellent is almost finished and you need to buy another one.

Using a more natural approach to the insect issue however, could well be the way to go — and it's literally a matter of using leaves.

Sigatoka-based craftsperson Tessa Miller is a big believer in the use of natural, often herbal remedies for all sorts of things — from sicknesses to insect repellents and even the removal of hair lice, and she advises people to use the neem tree as a natural repellent.

"I know the neem tree to be a fantastic natural repellent for mosquitoes, flea insects and all sorts of nasties," Ms Miller said. "It even works on kutu (hair lice), it really works wonders."

Ms Miller, who is also heavily involved in Fiji's art industry, said it was the presence of natural oil in the tree that repels the insects.

"You can even purchase neem oil from a shop, it's very reasonable — something like $2 for a little plastic bottle which you can use straight away.

"We use it for our dogs because we live in a farming area, so they tend to get ticks from horses and cows."

She said to use the tree leaves most effectively, it was wise to burn a few leaves and place them around the house or balcony area.

"With the neem tree, it's basically using the natural oil in its pure form. When the leaves fall off the tree — if you rake them up and burn them, it'll take care of all your mosquito problems.

"Neem works for us and it's readily available if you've got a Gujarati friend you can just go and pick the leaves from their house — or grow a tree. I know that burning leaves is good, I hear that if you mix them up with water you can spray it too, which makes it easier."

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