March 03, 2019

Why Repellents Can Be The Better Option

Why Repellents Can Be The Better Option

Fogging, aerosol, mosquito nets,vaporiser, citronella candles, lemongrass, pandan leaves, ultrasonic devices, lotions, window screens – and the list goes on.

Here’s one hard truth: There is no silver bullet for mosquito control. If there were to be one, WHO, CDC, MOH, NEA and other organisations would have signed on to that silver bullet and deregister everything else off their lists. There would be no need for shops to stock more than 10 products for mosquitoes and our houses, bathroom cabinets and even our handbags would need only one product ready on standby.

There is a myriad of mosquito products or solutions available out there because different scenarios require different mosquito products or solutions.

What about enjoying the outdoors? Being surrounded by flora and fauna?

Should our pursuit for comfort in outdoors trump over preserving nature as how it is?

There is a lot argument for and against applying pesticides in our backyards and parks. Here is why this is one scenario where using repellents is the best way forward when it comes to outdoor activities.


  1. It still protects us from disease-carrying biting insects

Let’s face it. The risk of dengue out there is too real to ignore. Nobody likes being bitten by mosquitoes and other blood suckers.

Both repellents and pesticides certainly help by removing biting insects from our immediate surroundings. However, when we are outdoors where nature is teeming with flowers, trees, plants, animals and insects, it is always better to opt for repellents instead of pesticides.

Just make sure you apply repellents correctly. We have a good guide on repellents here.


  1. We don’t kill beneficial insects

Bees, butterflies, beetles, wasps – there are so many types of beneficial insects. We need these beneficial insects to pollinate our plants, decompose organic waste, recycle nutrients, prey on other insects and maintain balance in local ecosystem.

When we spray pesticides in nature just to get rid of mosquitoes, we actually kill many good ones as well. Sometimes, we even end up killing only the beneficial insects while some mosquitoes escape unscathed because in nature, the beneficial insects do not build up tolerance against pesticides as much as mosquitoes do.

By using repellents in our outdoor activities, we repel both good and bad insects away from us but without unintentionally killing the beneficial ones.


  1. We avoid introducing pesticides into the nature

When we are outdoors, we are putting ourselves in nature’s place, not putting nature in our place. Subjecting other inhabitants of nature to pesticides just because of one insect is akin to visiting somebody else’s house and spraying your perfume all over.

The story doesn’t end there after pesticides are applied in natural environment. Depending on the type of pesticides, the residues can linger, waiting to be picked up by unsuspecting non-target insects and animals. Or a rainfall can run off the residues into the soil where beneficial soil organisms such as earthworm may be affected, or into groundwater and rivers.


With this in mind, we should savour nature in its entirety. Let’s choose repellents and enjoy our backyards and parks without subjecting the nature to pesticides.


© Jo-Lynn Teh, BCE


Jo-Lynn Teh is ESA Board Certified Entomologist based in Singapore. While her specialisation is on tropical insects that affect public health and agriculture, Jo-Lynn’s passion is also to help people understand insects. Find her on LinkedIn.



Suggested meta description: Have backyard? Going to parks? Before you start packing aerosol into your picnic basket, consider using repellents instead. Read on more to find out why.

Suggested keywords: repellents, pesticides, nature, insects, mosquitoes, beneficial, parks, backyards, pollinators, ecosystem

Leave a comment