February 9, 2009

Natural alternative to DEET effective

A compound of the Tauroniro tree in South America has been found to be effective in deterring mosquitoes from biting and to repel ticks, researchers said.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology found that isolongifolenone deters the biting of the mosquitoes -- known spreaders of diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus and Lyme disease -- more effectively than the widely used synthetic chemical repellent N,N-diethyl-3-methyl benzamide, known as DEET. It also repelled blacklegged ticks and lone star ticks as effectively as DEET.

Aijun Zhang said derivatives of isolongifolenone have been widely and safely used as fragrances in cosmetics, perfumes, deodorants and paper products, but new processing methods may make it as cheap to produce as DEET.

Since isolongifolenone is easily synthesized from inexpensive turpentine oil feedstock, 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, the study authors said in a statement.