Mosquitoes are the worst and the most disgusting insects of the world which belong to the fly family. These insects can be seen through our naked eye. The males and the females can be detected clearly through their antennae. The male antennae is more feathery to sense the females around while the female antennae is less feathery. The other difference of these two gendres is that the lifespan of males is only for about a week and the females is upto two months.

Although these annoying creatures possess a lifespan which ends up very quickly, they can make ours a living hell. Female mosquitoes feed on human blood and the nutrients of the human blood enable them to produce eggs. Most of the people are not aware of that, the female mosquitoes feed on blood in order to enable their reproduction. Besides making us itchy on the spots of bites, they are well known carriers of diseases. They are able to transmit diseases like malaria which are deadly to the human kind.

This is the reason why we are in need of mosquito repellants.

Mosquito repellents

Natural ingredients are used in producing various kinds of mosquito repellants and recipes. When they do not use natural ingredients for productions, they use an ingredient known as picaridin or DEET. Even though the mosquito repellants made of DEET are safe for both children and adults when it is used accurately, it is advisable to use natural based repellents. People are on the wrong belief that the mosquito repellents kill off the mosquitoes. Though they do not understand it correctly, the name itself defines that it does not kill the mosquitoes, but repel.

Following are some of the widely used mosquito repellents:

–  Greek catnip oil

–  Lemon eucalyptus oil

–  Lavender

–  Thyme oil

–  Cinnamon oil

–  Tea tree oil

–  Soybean oil

Even though we can find many kinds of plant-based mosquito repellents, Citronella oil is the best most popular out of all which is commonly known as lemongrass oil.

What is lemongrass?

Lemongrass plants (Cymbopogon citratus) are called by many names such as Citronella, Geranium Grass and Camel’s Hay. It is a tropical grass which grows tall and gives a citrusy aroma. This oil can be found in fresh leaves and stalks which is found in the peel of lemon. The leaves are on the top part of the grass and the root end is several inches in length.

This is a tropical plant which is grown in Southeast Asia. There is a flower in the lemongrass which blooms very rarely.

Thai dishes usually contain this lemongrass as an ingredient. In addition to that this is used to prepare tisanes or tea prepared used herbs. The lemongrass can be found in four forms such as fresh, powdered, dried or oiled. Sri lankan, Indian and Indonesian dishes are other dishes prepared by using lemongrass. These dishes only require a small portion out of the entire plant.

How to grow and store

Lemongrass is there in your garden but you are unaware of it! It can be easily mistaken for an ornamental grass since it adds beauty to your garden as well. This grass makes your garden/house appear bluish. Even though they do not require direct sunlight, it advisable to place them in an area of warm and lit.

If you are in the plan of planting lemongrass, January to March is the ideal time since you can sow the seeds to grow the sprouts. 68 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimum temperature to sprout. The seeds can be sown in the garden or in the pots if you wish to keep them in the balcony or patio. The ground for sowing should not be wet, instead it should be moist. 20-40 days are required for seeds to develop. Occasional watering is also required.

Although the lemongrass requires warmer weather, colder climates in warmer summer months can also grow them better. If you wish to keep them outdoors, it is good to keep them in a cool place which is not not open to winter elements.

The plant needs years to get thicker shoots, it doesn’t have any importance until then. But when the plants get the fall from low-growing stems, it should be trimmed.

The lemongrass can be stored in the refrigerator by wrapping loosely. The plant is ready to use in a few weeks. Freezing stalks are also good. If you need to store dry or powdered lemongrass, it is ideal to store them in airtight containers preventing heat and light.

How to cook with lemongrass

Different dishes such as poultry, savory dishes, seafood, vegetable curries and other kinds of meat can be prepared by using lemongrass. Cooking seafood or chicken with lemongrass remember to use coconut milk.

Make sure to remove the hard outer cover of the lower bulb of the fresh lemongrass before using it in your dishes. Thai dishes are made using the yellow part of the cover or the main stalk of the plant. Cut the stalk into pieces of 2-3 inches and bend them many times before use. Slice the stalk of the bent pieces with a knife to get their lemon flavour in order to prepare your delicious dish. Remember to remove the pieces before eating the dish.

But if you wish to have the pieces in the dish, the best way is to cut the slices thinner. Then the pieces should be placed in a food processor to be blended well.

If dried lemongrass is used, don’t forget to select a wet dish or a dish with enough gravy for rehydration. This adds lemony flavour to the dish. Powdered lemongrass can be used for cooking at any time more conveniently than the dried ones.

When cooking with lemongrass, the dish should be well cooked since it is of fibrous texture. Remember to boil the broth from 5-10 minutes if you’re making soup. This will help the lemongrass to get softened.

Advantages of lemongrass

A strong citrusy aroma is contained in lemongrass. Due to this reason it becomes a wonderful insect repellant. Although we humans like the aroma, mosquitoes hate it.

Besides insect repellency, lemongrass has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Some of the ingredients which it contains such as terpinolene, citrollal and myrcene are very beneficial. In addition to these, it contains vitamins B1, B2. B3, B4, B5, B6 and folate. Lemongrass contains manganese, iron and calcium minerals.

The following 9 benefits can be obtained by using lemongrass as a plant and an essential oil:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties that will help with heart diseases and strokes.
  2. Antimicrobial properties that will help to treat oral infections and cavities.
  3. Regulates cholesterol
  4. Helps in healthy digestion while acting as a diuretic
  5. Can be used to lose weight
  6. Lessens the risk of cancer
  7. Helps to get rid from the pains such as headaches, menstrual cramps and stomach aches
  8. Anti-oxidant properties that fishnets free radicals in the body which can result in several diseases.
  9. Helps in reducing high blood pressure

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