Repelling Bugs With The Essence Of Grapefruit

Tests so far indicate that nootkatone is highly effective as an environmental insecticide, and not just against mosquitoes. “A single application of a 2 percent solution of nootkatone will control ticks for up to 42 days at greater than 97 percent efficacy,” Dolan says.

Excerpted from  NPR ( Posted: 04/18/2011 ) 

It’s bug season again. And once again, most people won’t bother spraying or slathering on repellents.

That bugs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because biting insects are more than an itchy annoyance. Tick bites cause 30,000 Lyme disease infections every year. Mosquito-borne West Nile virus causes 600 potentially fatal brain infections a year.

People’s lackadaisical attitude is due to two things, says Marc Dolan of the CDC’s vector-borne infectious diseases laboratory in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“It’s hard for people to remember to use a repellent,” Dolan says. “You know, they don’t put a repellent on every time they leave the house.”

Beyond that, most repellents are a hard sell. That’s because they contain a 60-year-old chemical called DEET.

“People really dislike a lot of the repellents available now,” Dolan says. “They don’t like the odor they have, they don’t like the greasy feel they give. And a lot of people are just concerned about putting man-made chemicals on their skin.”

Safe Enough To Drink

That’s why the CDC is pushing hard to develop a completely natural insect repellent made from a chemical called nootkatone, which is found in Alaska yellow cedar trees and citrus fruit.

Dolan says nootkatone “is non-greasy, dries very quickly, and it has a very pleasant, citrus-y grapefruit odor to it.”

He recently demonstrated its effectiveness as a mosquito repellent – rubbing some on his hand and then sticking it into a cage containing 50 hungry mosquitoes. When he holds the treated hand near mosquitoes they try to get away in the opposite direction as fast as they can.

Even after five minutes, Dolan has no bites on his nootkatone-treated hand.

Nootkatone is also effective against ticks, and scientists think it will work against bed bugs, head lice and other insects too.

For the complete article:

~ by Rob on April 18, 2011.

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