Use discipline, not nature, to fight mosquitoes

The use of insect-repelling plants to combat mosquitoes is an intriguing concept, but it cannot provide sufficiently holistic protection (Use nature to fight mosquitoes, by Dr Snigdha Sharma; Forum Online, July 1).

Just as nature always strives to preserve an equilibrium, planting basil, marigold, and citronella in strategic locations will merely drive mosquitoes to breed in other locations.

Indeed, many breeding sites are artificially created by human carelessness, and the mere presence of plants can do little to mitigate this.

Another popular solution is fumigation, which is intuitive and visually impressive, but ultimately more destructive than beneficial.

Insecticides kill not only mosquitoes, but also their natural predators such as dragonflies and spiders.

Continued exposure to insecticides might also create biological resistance among new generations of mosquitoes.

This is even before we consider the adverse impact on the health of people.

Many breeding sites are artificially created by human carelessness, and the mere presence of (insect-repelling) plants can do little to mitigate this.

The introduction of genetically engineered mosquitoes designed to render whole populations infertile has led to concerns over their ecological impact.

The most lasting solution, therefore, remains vigilance and discipline.

The battle against dengue starts with preventing larvae breeding in stagnant water . No water, no mosquitoes.

Households must continue to seek and eliminate areas of stagnant water.

If mosquitoes are unable to find suitable havens in the urban environment, they may very well be contained within the natural habitats from whence they came.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2017, with the headline 'Use discipline, not nature, to fight mosquitoes'. Print Edition | Subscribe