April 19, 2011
A Bug Spray You Can Drink? CDC Promotes Grapefruit Extract "Nootkatone"
By Chad Love
This must be a good year for insect repellant research. First it was a new type of pre-treated clothing. Now researchers at the Centers For Disease Control say they're working on a new all-natural insect repellant made from a citrus extract.From this story on NPR.
"...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. (CDC researcher Marc Dolan) says nootkatone "is nongreasy, 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. Moreover, nootkatone is so nontoxic you could drink it. In fact, it's already an approved food additive, officially classed as "Generally Considered Safe." It's also a natural ingredient in some foods. "If you've had a grapefruit, you've consumed some nootkatone," Dolan says, "or drank a Squirt, for instance." Dolan, who is leading a CDC team to develop nootkatone, says it could be put into soaps and sunscreens, so people wouldn't have to apply a separate bug repellent. But that's not all ˜ it turns out that nootkatone could be both a repellent and an environmentally friendly pesticide. That's because it doesn't just repel bugs ˜ it kills them.