Coconut-Derived Insect Repellent More Effective Than Hazardous DEET

Coconut-Derived Insect Repellent More Effective Than Hazardous DEET

Coconut-Derived Insect Repellent More Effective than the Hazardous DEET

Via Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2018

Scientists working for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Lincoln, Nebraska have discovered natural compounds derived from coconut oil that are more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, bed bugs and other insects. Given the long-lasting efficacy of the compounds researchers tested, commercialization could make the regular use of toxic insect repellents, like DEET, obsolete. Advocates are praising USDA researchers for the results, indicating that this is exactly the type of research government agencies should be funding and promoting.

It is important to note that USDA scientists did not find coconut oil itself to be an effective repellent. Lab equipment was used to analyze and isolate medium chain fatty acids within coconut oil for their repellent properties. Scientists zeroed in on a blend of C8 (caprylic acid), C10 (capric acid), and C12 (lauric acid) fatty acids as the most effective repellent mixture. Individually, only C12 exhibited anywhere near the same efficacy as the specific blend identified. The study indicates that more research is needed to understand why coconut oil itself was ineffective, and how the synergy between the fatty acid combinations resulted in such effective repellency.

To verify their hypothesis on the efficacy of the fatty acid blend, scientists tested the compounds on range of well-known pests that threaten public health and the agricultural economy. They began with a focus on biting flies (the stable fly and horn fly), which can reduce meat and milk production in cattle, and spread disease to humans. For the horn fly, researchers formulated the fatty acids in a starch blend and found it effective for up to four days, when used on cattle in the field.  While the prevailing treatment against stable flies, catnip oil, provided 24 hours of protection, the coconut fatty acid blend showed effectiveness in the lab up to two weeks. Compared to DEET, which provides 50% control against stable flies, the coconut oil compound is 95% effective.

Researchers then looked at the effect of this blend on bed bugs. Both DEET and the fatty acid blend displayed roughly the same effectiveness after 24 hours, but the coconut-derived blend retained efficacy for much longer. After seven days, the coconut fatty acids were still 80% effective against bed bugs, while DEET lost much of its repellent activity after three days.

The dog and lone star ticks tested by scientists exhibited a response similar to bed bugs. The coconut oil blend was found to be nearly 90% effective for both tick species up to seven days. According to EPA’s insect repellent search tool, the longest effective time for a tick repellent currently on the market is the 14 hour protection provided by the picaridin-based Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion. The closest DEET-based product only provides 10 hours of tick repellency.

Scientists last tested their coconut-derived fatty acid blend on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can spread yellow fever, dengue fever, chickungunya, and Zika, and are increasingly prevalent throughout the United States due to a warming climate. While the fatty acid blend was effective at repelling these mosquitoes, the concentrations needed to be much higher than DEET in order to be effective. However, at concentrations above 25%, both substances exhibited the same ability to provide 90% repellency against Aedes aegypti.

It is not an understatement to characterize this research as groundbreaking in its implications for the future development of insect repellents. DEET, which is widely recommended by government agencies and even some well-intentioned non-profit organizations, has been linked to a range of health impacts, with particular concern for children.  Symptoms of DEET exposure in humans can include headache, exhaustion, and mental confusion, together with blurred vision,  salivation, chest tightness, muscle twitching and abdominal cramps. It is often applied to clothing in combination with synthetic pyrethroids, causing potential synergy that has been linked to brain damage and Gulf War syndrome. A 2009 study found a mother’s use of insect repellents, like DEET, during the first trimester of pregnancy to be associated with the birth defect hypospadias in newborns.

Most natural alternatives provide nowhere near the same length of efficacy as that displayed by the fatty acid compounds. The blend that researchers tested are also very cheap to produce and can be isolated through other plant compounds. Researchers estimate that cattle ranchers switching to this formulation could see significant savings on cattle fly repellents, as the cost of the coconut-derived fatty acids would only be roughly 10 cents per cattle.

USDA indicated in a press release that it has filed a patent application for this new technology, and is working with companies to develop formulas that replicate their work. This underlines the critical importance of the U.S. government investing in pest research and technology. As the Agricultural Research Service notes, “each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.” This is not government waste, but a successful method to develop new, safer products for the consumer and commercial market. Beyond Pesticides will continue to monitor and update its readers should a coconut-oil fatty acid based natural product be approved for use.

In the meantime, continue to avoid DEET-based products. Currently, given that the efficacy time for natural and least-toxic insect repellents is similar to DEET, there should be no reason to opt for the compound that could put one’s individual health at risk. See Beyond Pesticides’ least toxic mosquito repellent fact sheet for more information on safer, alternative repellents. See, also, Beyond Pesticides mosquito management webpage and Public Health Mosquito Management Strategy for Decision.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

New Mosquito Spraying “Events”: Toxic Pesticides to be Sprayed by Truck August 22 & 23 in Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn (2X)

New Mosquito Spraying “Events”: Toxic Pesticides to be Sprayed by Truck August 22 & 23 in Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn (2X)

Bronx map of areas for pesticide spraying[/caption]Yet again, New York City will be spraying dozens of neighborhoods across three boroughs with toxic pesticides on Wednesday, … Read more

Staten Island to be Sprayed with Toxic Pesticides This Evening, August 16th; In Four Boroughs Larvaciding by Helicopter Aug. 16, 17, 20

Staten Island to be Sprayed with Toxic Pesticides This Evening, August 16th; In Four Boroughs Larvaciding by Helicopter Aug. 16, 17, 20

New York City has scheduled pesticide spraying by truck this evening, Thursday, August 16th between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. in Staten Island. Areas to … Read more

New York City Spraying Harmful & Carcinogenic Pesticides in Brooklyn Tonight | Unchecked Spray “Program” Now in 19th Year

New York City Spraying Harmful & Carcinogenic Pesticides in Brooklyn Tonight | Unchecked Spray “Program” Now in 19th Year

When will this toxic pesticide spraying end? Large sections of Brooklyn will be sprayed this evening, August 9th. The pesticide spraying program for West Nile … Read more

Rachel Carson on Malathion, “Dangerous Interactions” between Pesticides

Rachel Carson on Malathion, “Dangerous Interactions” between Pesticides

An important note from Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, released in 1962: A NOTE FROM RACHEL CARSON Malathion, another of the organic phosphates, is … Read more

No Spray Coalition Condemns De Blasio Admin for Toxic Pesticide Spraying; 18th Year of Harmful Spraying for West Nile Virus

No Spray Coalition Condemns De Blasio Admin for Toxic Pesticide Spraying; 18th Year of Harmful Spraying for West Nile Virus

Pesticide Spraying Harms Human Health, Animals, Beneficial Insects, Entire Eco System   The New York City Department of Health began its 18th year of pesticide … Read more

SPRAY VS. NO SPRAY: Comparative Analysis of 14 Cities Which Spray Pesticides for West Nile Virus Vs. Those That Don’t

SPRAY VS. NO SPRAY: Comparative Analysis of 14 Cities Which Spray Pesticides for West Nile Virus Vs. Those That Don’t

Analysis shows no Increase in Occurrence of West Nile Virus in Cities That Do Not Spray Pesticides The No Spray Nashville group analyzed data based … Read more

Victory! Oregon County Votes to Ban Aerial Pesticide Spraying

Victory! Oregon County Votes to Ban Aerial Pesticide Spraying

Lincoln County (Oregon) Bans Aerial Pesticide Spraying Voters vote YES on Measure 21-177 in narrow victory over pesticide companies First electoral ban of pesticides in … Read more

“Beneficial” Insects act as Alternative to Harmful & Toxic Pesticides

“Beneficial” Insects act as Alternative to Harmful & Toxic Pesticides

At the No Spray Coalition, we try to be inclusive to all beings while recognizing that there are instances where some are more “wanted” than … Read more

NYC STILL USING PESTICIDES DESPITE LAW BANNING THEM

NYC STILL USING PESTICIDES DESPITE LAW BANNING THEM

City Still Using Pesticides Despite 2005 Law Banning Them By Elah Feder | August 10, 2015 City Limits JJ Harrison Anvil 10+10, the insecticide used … Read more

Remembering Valerie Sheppard, co-founder of NoSpray Coalition

Remembering Valerie Sheppard, co-founder of NoSpray Coalition

VALERIE SHEPPARD August 24 1953 – July 16, 2004 Valerie was a founding member of the No Spray Coalition — that’s how I first met … Read more

How Essential Oils Keep Mosquitoes Away in a Non-Toxic, Natural Way | Alternative to Harmful Pesticides

How Essential Oils Keep Mosquitoes Away in a Non-Toxic, Natural Way | Alternative to Harmful Pesticides

Via GreenMedInfo, some great information on Essential Oils as a way to keep mosquitoes away in a non-toxic, natural manner: Essential Oils Proven to Send … Read more

Fact Sheet on NALED Insecticide Being Sprayed for Zika

Fact Sheet on NALED Insecticide Being Sprayed for Zika

NALED Insecticide Fact Sheet [Original page on this site can be found here – go there to see many comments.] Naled is an insecticide in … Read more

Dr. Jeffrey Dach: Is it Zika Virus or Glyphosate Exposure?

Dr. Jeffrey Dach: Is it Zika Virus or Glyphosate Exposure?

Is It Zika Virus or Glyphosate Exposure ? by Jeffrey Dach MD The news media has been reporting the Zika virus as the cause of … Read more

From Dr. Mercola: Zika: Brazil Admits It’s Not the Virus

From Dr. Mercola: Zika: Brazil Admits It’s Not the Virus

Zika: Brazil Admits It’s Not the Virus, August 16, 2016 By Dr. Joseph Mercola Amidst growing fear-based propaganda warning of the threat of Zika virus … Read more

Site: New York City sprays the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans for “Zika prevention” and West Nile virus

Site: New York City sprays the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans for “Zika prevention” and West Nile virus

From the War Against All Puerto Ricans site, New York City sprays the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans for “Zika prevention: At 3:20 a.m. on August … Read more

GOATS IN BROOKLYN’S PROSPECT PARK – ALTERNATIVE TO HERBICIDES!

GOATS IN BROOKLYN’S PROSPECT PARK – ALTERNATIVE TO HERBICIDES!

PHOTO BY JULIE LARSEN MAHER Not kidding around: Prospect Park-goers can watch these goats gobble up invasive species in Brooklyn’s backyard until October. Enabling goats … Read more

Anti-Pesticides Activists Release Interactive Map Showing Where New York City Sprays Monsanto’s Cancer-Causing “RoundUp” | Action February 16th at Parks Department HQ

Anti-Pesticides Activists Release Interactive Map Showing Where New York City Sprays Monsanto’s Cancer-Causing “RoundUp” | Action February 16th at Parks Department HQ

Anti-Pesticides Activists Release Interactive Map Showing Where New York City Sprays Monsanto’s Cancer-Causing “RoundUp” Action TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2016 2:30 P.M. Stop Shopping Choir and … Read more

Stop the Poisoning of New York City Parks [Petition Against Glyphosate/Roundup]

Stop the Poisoning of New York City Parks [Petition Against Glyphosate/Roundup]

A new petition has been started to get glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup, out of New York City Parks by NYC-based The Black Institute. Despite … Read more

Sign the Petition: Stop Spraying toxic pesticides! Decrease cancer and asthma rates and save the pollinators!!

Sign the Petition: Stop Spraying toxic pesticides! Decrease cancer and asthma rates and save the pollinators!!

To sign the petition, CLICK HERE We, the undersigned, sincerely request an end to the use of harmful pesticides, Anvil 10+10 and Dibrum. These are … Read more

In the News: Fighting West Nile Virus Shouldn’t Mean Poisoning People (Newsweek)

In the News: Fighting West Nile Virus Shouldn’t Mean Poisoning People (Newsweek)

From this week’s Newsweek: Fighting West Nile Virus Shouldn’t Mean Poisoning People by Kristin Wartman On September 21, at around 9 p.m., Keegan Stephan was … Read more

NY City to spray toxic pesticides over Brooklyn & Queens again, tonight. Is the spraying under Mayor de Blasio worse than under Bloomberg?

NY City to spray toxic pesticides over Brooklyn & Queens again, tonight. Is the spraying under Mayor de Blasio worse than under Bloomberg?

Tonight (Monday, September 21, 2015), the City will be spraying (from trucks) the pyrethroid pesticide Anvil 10+10 in the Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, … Read more

Children’s Picnic Area in Central Park to be Sprayed with Toxic Pesticides [Update: Planned Large Picnic Cancelled]

Children’s Picnic Area in Central Park to be Sprayed with Toxic Pesticides [Update: Planned Large Picnic Cancelled]

Where in the world is Mayor Bill de Blasio? On Wednesday night, Sept. 9th 2015, New York City’s Central Park will be sprayed with the … Read more

Toxic Pesticide Spraying to Hit Three NYC Boroughs Plus Central Park: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island Wed. September 9th

Toxic Pesticide Spraying to Hit Three NYC Boroughs Plus Central Park: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island Wed. September 9th

If you have followed NYC spray program over the last 16 years, you know that typically one borough is sprayed at a time. But on … Read more

Watch: How NYC Sprays Neighborhoods by Truck with Pesticides – You Won’t Believe It

Watch: How NYC Sprays Neighborhoods by Truck with Pesticides – You Won’t Believe It

It is hard to believe this dangerous pesticide spray program is still being conducted in New York City after more than 16 years. Although there … Read more