Survival Gear photo

Judging from the number of responses to the blog post on the potential dangers of DEET there are quite a few of you out there who have concerns about its effects on the human body.

The problem is, DEET works better than just about anything else out there. And let’s face it, when you’re on a riverbank being torn to pieces by biting insects you just want some relief and to hell with what that relief might, may, perhaps, possibly be doing to your body.

But researchers have discovered a chemical that just might give DEET a run for its money without all those pesky questions about damage to your central nervous system, because it’s made from the same kind of stuff found in black pepper.

From the story:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A chemical that resembles natural products from black pepper can deter mosquitoes four times longer than DEET, the world’s most widely used bug repellent. The new substance could be used to protect people who live in the developing world, or to shield soldiers from insects when they deploy to countries with pest problems. “Our goal is to reduce disease transmission,” said USDA synthetic chemist Maia Tsikolia, here at the American Chemical Society meeting. “It’s very important for the American military, actually for mankind, to have effective repellents.” The announcement of these potential new repellents comes on the heels of news earlier this month from a team of French researchers that reported DEET affects cells in a manner similar to nerve gas, and enhances the toxic effects of a common pesticide. The study was preliminary and was conducted on unprotected cells in petri dishes, so it may not be relevant for humans. But it became fodder for dozens of cautionary headlines leaving the public looking for alternatives.

No word yet on how it tastes sprinkled on eggs or homegrown tomatoes…