While watering the garden last night, we swatted at the season's first mosquitoes, and wound up with the bites to prove it. We garden organically, and it goes without saying that there's no DEET allowed in our yard—let alone on our bodies. So when we read about nootkatone, a natural chemical found it cedar trees and grapefruit, we were intrigued.
While nootkatone is still in the early testing stages, it's looking pretty promising, according to NPR. Not only does it go on smooth, dry quickly, and smell pleasant; it's also safe enough to drink (and being a natural chemical in grapefruits, as well as an FDA-approved food additive, chances are we have all had a little nootkatone anyway) and better yet, it acts as an extremely effective mosquito and tick repellent. It's so good, in fact, that it could be used as an all-natural pesticide! (Are you reaching for that grapefruit and heading out to the garden right now like we are?)
Basically, nootkatone is an essential oil that breaks down quickly and completely, meaning it doesn't alter the soil if applied in a garden. There's an even bigger future planned for nootkatone: if all goes as planned, the hope is that it can be "impregnated into bed nets to reduce malaria transmission."
Sounds pretty promising—definitely a repellent and pesticide we'd feel comfortable using in our own homes and yards. What do you think?
Learn more about nootkatone and the CDC's process of testing it at NPR.
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(Image: Flickr member XANHandkor, licensed under Creative Commons.)