Basil as a Natural Remedy for Mosquitos

05 March, 2021
In addition to adding taste and smell to food, basil is an excellent natural remedy for mosquitos. In this article, we'll tell you in which ways you can use it as an ecological repellent.

It’s not surprising that many of us use basil in cooking to prepare different meals. With a recognizable and delicious aroma, it’s very commonly used in pasta dishes, pizzas, and aromatic oils. However, did you know that you can also use basil as a natural remedy for mosquitos?

The natural repelling function is one of the many attributes this aromatic herb has and, in this article, you’ll learn how to use it at home.

Characteristics of basil

Basil originated in Asia and, with time, people began to cultivate it all over the world. Today, we know that there are more than 40 different species, of which the Ocimum basilicum or sweet basil is the most well known.

It’s a perennial herbaceous plant whose leaves are wide and an intense green color. It can barely grow past a foot and a bit tall and its leaves hold the scent. Generally, it’ll produce flowers in the summer, and small groups of white and lilac flowers bloom.

The plant is known for its high content of essential oils that boast different medicinal properties. Among those, we note its use for gastric, respiratory, and urinary problems.

According to a study published in the Cuban Journal of Pharmacy, basil is used in medicine to treat the following:

  • Gastrointestinal affections like diarrhea and parasitism
  • Respiratory illnesses like bronchitis
  • General dermatological problems
  • Altitude sickness: as it contains eugenol, it has anticoagulant properties that improve blood circulation
  • Basil’s essential oil has antifungal characteristics and acts against bacteria and fungi
Basil on a chopping board.
Basil has culinary and medicinal properties but also works as an effective repellent.

Keep reading: 4 Essential Oils to Soothe Bee Stings

Why is basil a natural remedy for mosquitos?

To understand why this herb wards off mosquitos, it’s necessary that we know how these insects detect their prey. Aside from being tedious and painful, mosquito bites can also carry serious illnesses. As you may know, they’ve unleashed dengue and yellow fever epidemics, through Aedes aegypti.

This type of insect uses thermal and chemical sensors that allow them to detect their food. Every part of its tiny body works together to locate the next victim:

  • Its legs notice the difference in temperature between their prey and the environment.
  • Its antennae sense the water vapor and carbon dioxide present every time we exhale a breath. Furthermore, our skin emits certain substances, like lactic acid through sweat, which also attracts mosquitos.

When we use a repellent with chemical substances, what we actually do is attack the mosquito’s natural sensors. This then causes the mosquito to lose its ability to detect prey, forcing it to move away in order to recuperate it. Basil contains four substances that are natural replants: estragole, citronellol, limonene, and trans-nerolidol.

You may also be interested in: The Science-Backed Health Benefits of Citronella

How can we use basil as a natural repellent for mosquitos?

Basil is a plant that offers us a sustainable, simple, and economic way to repel mosquitos. Just placing a little plant on your windowsills, balcony, or in your garden will reduce the presence of insects, and here we give you some more ways to use it.

To create a natural insect repellent based on basil, we’re going to need the following ingredients:

  • 0.25 pints of water
  • Basil leaves
  • 0.25 pints of vodka or 96% alcohol

Prepare a tea with the leaves and the water, and then strain it. Mix the leftover liquid with vodka or whichever alcohol you choose, and put it into a spray bottle. Later, spray your plants whenever it’s necessary.

Another alternative would be to buy basil flavored essential body oil. In addition to perfuming and hydrating the skin, this keeps the mosquitos away. You can also use it to add a pleasant scent to the place.

A mosquito ready to bite.
Mosquitos can transmit serious illnesses like dengue. For this reason alone, it’s important to keep them under control.

Basil as a natural remedy for mosquitos compared to synthetic products

The synthetic products that we use as repellents aren’t always as efficient as we think. For example, studies have proven that only those that contain no less than 25% of DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) are effective.

Regarding natural essential oils, when using them as repellents, we must keep in mind that they evaporate more easily. It’s for that reason that pharmacist Dr. Beatriz Badilla warns that we have to reapply them more often because their effects wear off after a shorter amount of time.

Finally, in addition to natural remedies like basil, we should take some extra measures to keep the mosquitos away:

  • Use mosquito nets on your windows and doors, and over baby cots.
  • Take a look at the labels on the products that you’re going to use to see if they’re synthetic or natural. Here it should indicate the time of effectiveness, and the age and skin type it’s suitable for.
  • Shake your pajamas before you get into bed to check that there are no mosquitos in your bedroom.

We hope that you try these natural repellents for mosquitos like basil, and that with these recommendations you can keep insects well away from your home and family.

  • Sánchez Govín, E., Leal López, I. M., Fuentes Hernández, L., & Rodríguez Ferrada, C. A. (2000). Estudio farmacognóstico de Ocimum basilicum L.(albahaca blanca). Revista Cubana de Farmacia34(3), 187-195.
  • Sam, O., de la Luz, M., & Barroso, L. (2002). Caracterización anatómica de las hojas de la albahaca blanca (Ocimum basilicum L.). Cultivos tropicales23(2), 39-42.
  • Py, N. F. M. M. S., & Corona-Cruz, A. Repelente Natural para el Mosquito Aedes Aegypti a base de Albahaca (Ocimun Basilicum) y Eucalipto (Eucalyptus globulus) para apoyar problemas de salud en comunidades del municipio de Yaxcaba Yucatán. COMPENDIO DE PONENCIAS, 114.
  • Grisales Galindo, M., Tellez Salamaca, D. M., & Gómez Vanegas, M. Evaluación De La Eficacia De Los Extractos Naturales De Citronella (Cymbopogoncitratus), Albahaca (Ocimumbasilicum) Y Lavanda (Lavandulaspp.) Como Repelente Natural Contra Mosquitos Adultos De La Especie Aedes Aegypti.
  • Querales, J. (2002). Dengue: causas, características clínicas y prevención. Gaceta Médica de Caracas110(3), 328-332.
  • Uc-Puc, V., Herrera-Bojórquez, J., Carmona-Carballo, C., Che-Mendoza, A., Medina-Barreiro, A., Chablé-Santos, J., … & Manrique-Saide, P. (2016). Efectividad de repelentes comerciales disponibles contra el mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.) en Yucatán, México. salud pública de méxico58, 472-475.
  • Badilla, B. (2016). Uso racional de repelentes contra mosquitos.