Tick and Mosquito Repellent Can Be Made Commercially
from Pine Oil
June 23, 2008
A naturally-occurring compound prepared
from pine oil that seems to deter mosquito biting and repels two kinds of ticks
has been found by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.
A patent (US 7,378,557 B1) was issued on May 27 for the compound,
isolongifolenone, and partners are being sought to bring this technology to
In laboratory tests, ARS chemist
Zhang in the
Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., and his
colleagues discovered that the naturally occurring compound deters the biting
of mosquitoes more effectively than the widely used synthetic chemical
repellent DEET. The compound also repelled two kinds of ticks as effectively as
Insect repellents are used widely to prevent bites from mosquitoes, sand
flies, ticks and other arthropods. For the most part, people apply repellents
just to avoid discomfort, but there is a more serious side to the use of these
products. Human diseases caused by blood-feeding ticks and mosquitoes represent
a serious threat to public health worldwide.
Malaria is the chief threat, killing approximately two million people per
year and threatening billions. Other diseases include dengue fever,
chikungunya, Lyme disease and typhus. Some segments of the public perceive
efficient synthetic active ingredients as somehow more dangerous than botanical
compounds, giving additional importance to the discovery of plant-based
Zhang's team also developed an easy and efficient method to prepare this
repellent. Many natural-product chemicals isolated from plants and essential
oils have proven to have repellent effects. Most often, such compounds never
attain commercial development and their use is limited or impractical because
they are expensive and not available in pure and large quantities.
In contrast, this newly-discovered repellent can be prepared inexpensively
from pine oil feedstock in ton quantities for large-scale commercial
applications, giving it a significant advantage over many of the other
natural-product repellent chemicals.
ARS is a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.