Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 13(1): January 2020
ISSN 0974-3618 (Print) www.rjptonline.org
Formulation and Development of Polyherbal mosquito Repellent Incense
Aditi Bahadur1, K S Chandrashekar2, Vasudev Pai2*
1Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, MAHE, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2Department of Pharmacognosy, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, MAHE, Manipal, Karnataka
*Corresponding Author E-mail: email@example.com
Currently the use of synthetic mosquito repellent chemicals has several issues related to environment and human
health. This project was formulated and developed to have safer mosquito repellent free from carcinogenic
chemicals and are significantly cheaper and simple to develop. Dried powdered herbs like acorus, pyrethrum
flower head, camphor, benzoin, neem leaves were used to make mosquito repellent formulation. The powdered
blend were mixed with binders and additives like joss powder, charcoal powder. The solid formulation was
rolled in the form of incense sticks. Further to add value, it was later scented with essential oil like lemongrass
oil and dried. The incense sticks when ignited releases vapours with a pleasant fragrance and herbs which repels
the mosquitoes. The incense sticks was tested for its potency by burning near the mosquito net cage with
sufficient mosquitoes. The sticks also distributed to random peoples for feedback and were deemed to be very
effective in controlling the mosquitos.
KEYWORDS: Mosquito repellent, Incense sticks and Essential oil.
Mosquitoes are most irritating and blood sucking insect
disturbing human beings1. Some of the mosquito species
which belongs to genera Anopheles, Aedes and Culex are
known to be vectors for the most of the disease
pathogens like malaria, dengue fever, Myiasis, yellow
fever, encephalitis etc. Protozoan diseases- In Malaria
the female Anopheles mosquito carries the malarial
parasite. The four different species of protozoa causes
Malaria, namely Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium
vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae. It is
the leading cause of premature mortality and caused
more than half a million deaths according to the WHO
report in 2012 and the death rate has increased to one
million as of 2018, according to the American
Association of Mosquito control. Symptoms are high
fever and chills.2-4
Received on 06.06.2019 Modified on 04.07.2019
Accepted on 01.08.2019 © RJPT All right reserved
Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 2020; 13(1): 124-128.
Dengue fever is an acute mosquito transmitted disease
which is characterized by fever, body ache, headache,
joint and muscle pains, skin rash, nausea followed by
vomiting. The causative organism of Dengue Fever is
arbovirus and is spread by genus Aedes mosquitoes.
Some of the infections in Dengue are Haemorrhagic
Fever, Shock Syndrome which can threat the patient’s
life by increased vascular permeability which leads
shock. Over the past twenty years, there has been global
increase in the frequency of Dengue Fever incidence.
Several factors which are responsible for the resurgence
of dengue epidemic are: (i) Uncontrolled population
growth; (ii) Urbanization; (iii) Improper waste
management; (iv) Improper water supply (v) Increased
mosquitoes (vi) Improper mosquito control and (vii)
Public health deterioration.5-7
Botflies are parasites which feed on human tissues, such
a phenomenon is called myiasis. The Human botfly
dermatobiahominis attaches its eggs to the underside of a
mosquito, when the mosquito takes a blood meal the
parasitic larvae is injected in the blood stream of a
human being, and it hatches due to the warm temperature
of human blood. This causes rapid necrosis of the
tissues. This is very rare now days due to the better
Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 13(1): January 2020
sanitation in our societies but it still occurs in developing
or under developed countries.
Viral diseases - Viral diseases like yellow fever,
chikungunya, dengue, etc. is transmitted by the
Aedesaegypti mosquito symptoms range from swelling,
edema, high fever to coma to death.
Helminthiasis - Some species of mosquito carry the
filariasis worm that causes extreme swelling (hence also
called Elephantitis) of the body parts. Mosquitoes are
dangerous, humans over the years have tried many ways
to keep them away from entering spaces and spread
Anatomy of mosquitos:
Mosquitoes are very small insect and has three major
parts namely head followed by thorax and abdomen. The
head of the mosquitos consists of sensors which helps
the mosquitos to find the host for feeding. Mosquitos has
eyes two in number with tine lens which can feel even
little movements. The mosquito antennae are feathery
and are located on head and are highly specialised
sensitive capacity which can detect the human carbon
dioxide from breath from around 100 feet. The maxillary
palp near the antennae catches the odour of ocentol and
other prime chemicals released from humans sweat. In
the middle nearly between antennae proboscis which is a
mouth part used to pierce in the skin and suck blood out.
The thorax is continuation of the head and has a pair of
wings. Mosquitos has six legs with tiny claws which
help to keep intact to the surface. The abdomen hangs on
the thorax and has stomach and lungs.8 Both male and
female mosquitos feed plant juice. Male mosquitos will
not bite human beings whereas female mosquitos suck
human blood only after mating because they need some
proteins for their maturation of eggs.9 Therefore the
mosquitos act as a vector for many deadly disorders
which transmits virus or parasite from person to person
Prevention of Breeding and Creating Safety Nets:
The methods to limit breeding of mosquitoes are to make
sure there is no stagnant water in our respective locality
as mosquito larvae grow and hatch in stagnant water. If
in case there are ponds or lakes with fresh water, we
should make sure that we let the fish Poecillia reticulate
which is commonly known as the ‘Guppy’ fish grow and
breed in them as they consume mosquito larvae as food.
In our houses, we can attach nets to our windows and use
a mosquito net while sleeping in order to limit the
amount of mosquitoes that enter our houses. However,
though these methods are very effective to limit the
amount of mosquitoes in our environment, they are still
not able totally prevent mosquitoes from entering our
homes and workspaces. There is still a change of a
mosquito entering our house and biting us and even one
bite is enough for the transmission of deadly diseases,
which were previously discussed. It is especially difficult
in India to reduce the amount of mosquitoes in our
environment due to the monsoon season, when stagnant
water collect in every nook and cranny. Hence, here
enters the role of mosquito repellents.11-13
Mosquito repellents are substances that prevent
mosquitoes from being in an environment. There are
various types of synthetic mosquito repellents used in the
market; these are manufactured on a large scale by
industries. They are widely used and are very popular.
However, there are various drawbacks to these mosquito
repellents. The ingredients used in them are harmful for
the humans as well as the environment.
Harmful ingredients in synthetic herbal repellents
Synthetic herbal repellents have a number of harmful
ingredients, which are harmful to the health of human
beings when inhaled or ingested, and are harmful to the
environment either during the process of manufacture or
during the use of these mosquito repellents in the
average Indian household.
DEET (N, N Diethyl-Meta-Toluamide)-This is a
standard additive in mosquito repellents; it is used as a
very popular pesticide. However, it has several very bad
effects on the health and environment. It is toxic for
pregnant women and can cause foetal abnormalities; it
has neurological effects and olfactory effects. It is also
very bad for the environment, particularly fresh water
fish and zooplankton.
Synthetic pyrethrins- such as Allethrin, Transfluthreine
are the synthetic derivatives of naturally occurring
Pyrethrins derived from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium.
They are fast acting Pyrethrins which have many side
effects like anxiety, tremor, convulsions and some
individuals are allergic to them.
Octacholrodipropylether is also used as a synergist and it
is a very potent lung carcinogen. It is banned in the
United States but not banned in India. It may be listed as
S-2 in the ingredient list.
Deodorized kerosene - It is used as the suspending agent
or solvent for any mosquito repellents. It has toxic
effects for the respiratory system, cardiovascular system,
nervous system. It is a confirmed carcinogen for animals
and has been suspected to have carcinogenic and
mutagenic properties for humans as well. It is very
harmful for the environment.
Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 13(1): January 2020
Aerosols- many mosquito repellents are in the form of
aerosols that release their content in the air when the coil
of the machine of the repellent is heated. Aerosols can be
toxic to the cardiovascular system and can have several
nervous system side effects such as tremors and
convulsions. In addition, aerosols with a pleasant
fragrance can contain several harmful chemicals like
xylene and formaldehyde that are carcinogens. Aerosols
are also known to harm the environment.
Butylated Hydroxy Toluene (B.H.T) - is used as an
antioxidant, it can cause hepatic or renal toxicity if
ingested or inhaled.
Apart from these terrible drawbacks on our health and
environment, the commercially available are also very
expensive and difficult for the common person. This is
what led to developing a safe herbal mosquito repellent.
Development of safe and herbal mosquito repellent
As we now that mosquitoes are very dangerous and the
commercially available mosquito repellents contain
certain dangerous chemical ingredients, which are potent
carcinogens and are extremely harmful for the humans
and environment as well. They are easily accessible only
to the urban population. Considering all this, we
developed a product that contains herbal ingredients with
no known side effects. The herbs are easily available and
since there are no synthetic ingredients. The production
and cost of these incense sticks are very economical.
Several herbs that have been used in India for
generations to repel insects have been used and
combined, making a strong and effective product.
Herbs and additives used in the formulation:
Dried Pyrethrum flower head-This is the dried flower
head of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium. It has potent
insecticidal activity and has been used for generations. It
targets the nervous system of insects by blocking the
voltage gated sodium ion channels that extends nerve
firings; this causes paralysis in the mosquito. This is due
to the compound called Pyrethrin that is present in the
Neem (Azadirachta indica) - This is a widely available
plant with many beneficial properties, neem is an
effective mosquito repellent and has been used for
generations. There are published studies stating that
neem is a very effective mosquito repellent. This is due
to the compound Azadirachthin, which irritates the
mucous membranes of the mosquito and is used an
anantifeedant (stops the feeding of the mosquito and it
cannot consume human blood meal).
Lemon grass oil- Lemon grass oil or Citronella oil is the
essential oil obtained from Cymbopogon nardus plant.
Its strong scent irritates the mosquitoes and other insects
and hence the mosquito usually stays away from the
scent and cannot sense the presence or scent of a human
being. Thus is very effective as a mosquito repellent and
has a very pleasant scent.
Camphor - Camphor is originally a white and oily resin
of the tree Cinnamommum camphora. Its crystals are
also widely available in the market. It has been used for
generations as an effective repellent of mosquitoes and
Acorus calamus - This herb contains the compound β-
asarone which has anti-feedant and larvicidal properties
which also like neem prevents the mosquito from
feeding on the blood meal of humans as well as prevents
the mosquito larvae from growing and maturing in the
Benzoin- Also known as Sambhrani in Southern India, is
the resin obtained from the aromatic tree Styrax genus.
Its odour also repels mosquitoes and it has been used for
generations in India, China, etc. as a mosquito repellent.
Joss/Jigat powder- This is the bark powder of the Persea
marcantha tree used as an adhesive and binding agent in
Charcoal powder- This is used as a binder obtained from
partially burnt husk of coconut shell.16-19
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Method of preparation of Incense sticks:
• All the dried herbs were finely powdered in a mixer
and then passed through a sieve (mesh no.80). The
powder should be very fine or else there will be
problems in the binding and burning. Total 100
grams of powder premix taken to prepare 20 incense
sticks. The quantity of plant material taken is listed in
• Water was gradually added to the fine powder until it
attains dough like consistency. It should be well
mixed and not too watery dough otherwise it creates
problem in making sticks.
• The dough was divided in portions and was rolled by
hand in small quantities on plain bamboo sticks. This
can be done by a machine in large scale production.
• The sticks were dried for 24 hours under shade. Tray
dryer can also be used to dry the sticks faster.
• The dried incense sticks were then scented with
lemon grass oil.
• Finally sticks were packed in a suitable packing
material preferably plastic.
Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 13(1): January 2020
Table 1. Quantity of material taken for 20 Incense sticks
Lemongrass oil Q.S
Testing mosquito repellent activity of incense sticks
using mosquito net cage method:
The mosquitos used in this experiment were caught by
big plastic cover and transferred carefully in the net cage
with approximately 60cm X 60cm. About 30 mosquitoes
are transferred in the net cage between 7pm to 10pm
since most of the mosquitos bite at that time. The three
full incense stick were burned in the room with sufficient
ventilation and the mosquito net cage is kept at the
center of the room and duration of exposure is 3 hours.
The behavior of the mosquitos was assessed. The
behaviors of the mosquitos were given in Table 2 and
Figure 1 mosquitos with no movement after 3 hours of
exposure. Figure 2 shows the mosquito net cage.
Table 2: Behaviour of the mosquitos when incense stick were
Behaviour of the
7 pm to
8 pm to
9 pm to
Mosquitos freely moving
in the net
Number of mosquitos
aligned on the net
Mosquitos struggling for
No movement and lying
Figure 1: Mosquitos with no movement.
Figure 2: Mosquito net cage with mosquitos
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION:
The mosquito net cage method was used to assess the
behavior of the mosquitos when the incense sticks were
burned near the net cage for about 3hrs. Around 3
complete incense sticks were burned near the net cage
from 7 pm to 10 pm. The results are given in Table 2.
and the mosquitos with no movement lying on floor
number noted every hour, the first, second and third hour
result shows 6, 17, 25 respectively, whereas 4 mosquitos
aligned on the net after 3 hours. The figure 1 shows that
mosquitoes with no movement after 3 hours of exposure.
Feedback of the mosquito repellent incense sticks taken
from 20 people and asked to evaluate the formulation.
The feedback results are given in table 3. The prepared
mosquito repellent incense sticks and sticks ignited in
the area outdoor where mosquitos crowded shown in
Table 3: Feedback of questionnaire report
Odor of the incense
Allergy related issue
rating out of 1 to 5
Figure 3: Final product of mosquito repellent incense sticks and
ignited for testing potency
Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 13(1): January 2020
A through literature survey was carried out before the
development of mosquito repellent incense sticks. Plants
have mosquito repellent activity like neem, camphor,
acorus calamus, benzoin, pyrethrum and lemongrass oil
was selected, powdered and made the incense sticks by
adding binders. The incense sticks are subjected for
evaluation by using mosquito net cage method and the
results were very satisfactory in repelling the mosquitos.
The feedbacks of the product were also satisfactory
when given to 20 people and the product satisfaction
rating score given was 4 out of 5. The product also tested
for any allergy symptoms when used and there is no such
allergic symptoms like discomfort, sneezing, wheezing
were reported. Overall the product is safe to use and
have significant mosquito repellent activity.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST:
Funding: No funding
Competing interests: None declared
Ethical approval: Not applicable
The authors are thankful to Manipal college of
pharmaceutical sciences, MAHE, Manipal for providing
the infrastructure and lab facilities to carry out the work.
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