> I lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years where Neem trees
> were introduced in one of the waves of miracle trees, and out in the
> south-west where I lived, they grew very well and were popular mostly
> due to the belief that the mere precence of these trees is an insect
> repellent. As far as I can tell, the insecticidal qualities of this
> tree are only achieved by some form of processing of either leaves or
> seeds. I can only tell you that hanging out under Neem trees never
> seemed to discourage the ferocious mosquitos that found me. I
> believe the Neem-tree-alone-as-insecticide to be a myth.
I agree with you entirely about the neem tree alone as insecticide being a
myth. However the issues are quite complex. The original poster wanted a
solution for mosquitos in India, and therefore I mentioned neem. I do not
know if it would have the same effect elsewhere. Excessive use of
antibiotics and pesticides have made many species tolerant to most
pesticides and drugs. They may have developed resistance to neem also.
A more important point is that neem has religious significance for most
Indians, it is a sacred tree. (This seems to be changing especially in the
cities). People would rather a neem tree fell on their houses rather than
cut it down. Sacredness of a plant also means that people would keep the
surroundings clean. Many posters on this thread have said that in the
absence of cleanliness and sanitation, nothing will keep away mosquitos.
There is much work being done in India now on the concept of sacred groves
and sacred trees. Designating a tree or a clump of trees as sacred by a
community has several advantages.
1. It preserves biodiversity: trees which would otherwise have been lost
are preserved solely for their sacredness.
2. It has acted as barriers to deforestation.
3. It has led to the preservation of several trees having medicinal value.
4. The site is well looked after.
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology, Powai
Mumbai, 400076, India
Phone: 091 022 576 7372
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