Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a new active ingredient for use in insecticides and insect repellents. Nootkatone, discovered and developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helps repel and kill ticks, mosquitoes, and a wide variety of other biting pests. The CDC’s licensed partner, Evolva, is working with pest control companies for possible commercial partnerships, which could be available as early as 2022.
Unlike some insecticide active ingredients, nootkatone is all natural and smells good enough to eat - because it is! It’s currently a food additive and classified as “generally considered safe” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “If you drink Fresca or Squirt, you’ve drunk nootkatone,” said Ben Beard, Ph.D., deputy director of the division of vector-borne diseases at the CDC. While nootkatone itself is food safe, eating any nootkatone-based pest control product is (obviously) not recommended. Food-grade nootkatone products will be very different from pest control ones.
Joel R. Coats, a specialist in insect toxicology at Iowa State University, said his lab found nootkatone to be “an impressive repellent but a weak insecticide.” It repels ticks better than synthetics like DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. And it is their equal at repelling mosquitoes.
Unlike citronella, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil and other repellents based on plant oils, nootkatone does not lose its potency after about an hour, but lasts as long as the synthetics.
According to The New York Times, proposed uses for nootkatone-based repellents include soaps for people in tick-infested areas and insecticide-fused mosquito nets.
What do you think of trying to implement more natural pest control ingredients? Let us know on social media!
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