Magazine article USA TODAY

Safe, Effective "Natural" Insect Repellent

Magazine article USA TODAY

Safe, Effective "Natural" Insect Repellent

Article excerpt

PEST CONTROL

After 15 years of tests on more than 3,900 compounds, Jerry Butler, an entomologist with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, has developed a safe, natural insect repellent that can protect people against everything from mosquitoes and ticks to tiny no-see-ums. "It's the first effective alternative to products containing DEET [N,N-diethylmeta-toluamide], the most widely used active ingredient in insect repellents now on the market. After relying on DEET-based products for more than 40 years, this is a breakthrough that should revolutionize the market." The new repellent is a "green" product because it is an oil extracted from plants that have a natural ability to protect themselves against feeding insects.

The active ingredient in Butler's herbal repellent is geraniol, derived from lemon grass and other plants. The repellent has been labeled "generally regarded as safe" by the Environmental Protection Agency. Applied to the skin, it provides almost four hours of protection against a wide range of insects that bite, including flies, mosquitoes, fire ants, ticks, and midges, often called no-see-ums.

Safety concerns over DEET prompted Butler's search for natural, nonchemical alternatives. …

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