Coconut oil compounds repel insects better than DEET

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Scientists examined coconut oil compounds and found that the fatty acids of coconut serve as a better repellant for insects and flies as compared to DEET.

Repellants are increasingly used to prevent disease transmission and discomfort associated with insect bites. DEET has been used as the most authentic and commonly used insect repellant, and is considered as the gold standard in insect repellents. However, scientists were searching for a natural insect repellent as synthetic repellents and insecticides have caused environmental concerns.

Researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service found specific coconut oil fatty acids that has potential for string repellency and lasting effects against various insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and bed bug. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists that was led by led by entomologist Junwei (Jerry) Zhu, with the ARS Agroecosystem Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Nebraska. They found that coconut compounds repelled biting flies for over two weeks while resisted ticks for at least one week during laboratory analysis. Moreover, when the team applied the compound topically, they observed that mosquitoes showed strong repellency to the compound. The compounds derived from coconut consisted of lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid as well as their corresponding methyl esters, which carry a high strong repellency against blood-sucking insects.

Moreover, it was observed that DEET lost its repellency properties for bed bugs and ticks after about three days, however, coconut oil compound showed its repellency effect for about two weeks. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports in September 2018.

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