A natural, alternative insect repellent to DEET

February 5, 2009

Isolongifolenone, a natural compound found in the Tauroniro tree (Humiria balsamifera) of South America, has been found to effectively deter biting of mosquitoes and to repel ticks, both of which are known spreaders of diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease.

Derivatives of isolongifolenone have been widely and safely used as fragrances in cosmetics, perfumes, deodorants, and paper products, and new processing methods may make it as cheap to produce as DEET. The results of this research are presented in the latest issue of Journal of Medical Entomology in an article by Aijun Zhang et. al titled "Isolongifolenone: A Novel Sesquiterpene Repellent of Ticks and Mosquitoes."

The authors found that isolongifolenone deters the biting of the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti (L.) and Anopheles stephensi Liston more effectively than the widely used synthetic chemical repellent N,N-diethyl-3-methyl benzamide (DEET) in laboratory bioassays. Furthermore, it repelled blacklegged ticks and lone star ticks as effectively as DEET.

Since "isolongifolenone is easily synthesized from inexpensive turpentine oil feedstock," the authors write, "we are therefore confident that the compound has significant potential as an inexpensive and safe repellent for protection of large human populations against blood-feeding arthropods."

In addition, a new, patented method developed by the authors to efficiently produce isolongifolenone would make it even more cost effective.

Source: Entomological Society of America

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1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2009
"In addition, a new, patented method developed by the authors to efficiently produce isolongifolenone would make it even more cost effective."

Ooops! The kicker is obvious. Money!
4 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2009
Yes, but does it repel all of the over 600 species of mosquitoes known to harbor and spread human disease? DEET has been established as effective against all arthropods and has supplanted the more damaging DDT. If this stuff works as well as DEET then I'm all for it, otherwise a more comprehensive solution will be needed before DEET comes off the market.

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