New mosquito repellents keep bugs at bay for over 8 hours
Mosquito repellent is an everyday weapon to keep those biting bugs at bay, but it can be frustratingly fickle. Now researchers in Italy have developed new formulations that they say can last as long as eight hours, are odorless and boast other advantages.
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying – they’re some of the most dangerous disease carriers in the world. The go-to repellent reached for by the military and barbecue-goers alike contains DEET, an active ingredient first developed in the 1940s that blocks the ability of mosquitoes and other biting insects to sniff out humans to snack on.
But it has its problems. Many people find the smell as repellent as mozzies do, and it feels like you have to keep applying it every few hours or it stops working. At high concentrations it can irritate the skin, eyes or lungs, and damage fabrics.
Alternatives are in demand, and now researchers at the Universities of Pisa and Firenze have developed some promising new formulations. The team created novel varieties of compounds called cyclic hydroxyacetals, and tested their chemical properties and, of course, how well they could repel mosquitoes.
While several of the compounds were found to be as effective as DEET at repelling mosquitoes, some performed far better, preventing over 95% of bites for more than eight hours. Meanwhile, DEET’s effectiveness began to drop in as little as two hours.
The alternatives had other advantages, too. They were all found to have much fainter odors, some even smelling quite pleasant. They dissolved in water more easily, which could reduce the alcohol content required. And they all had toxicity comparable to or even lower than that of DEET, with some less likely to trigger immune reactions.
Whether or not these specific compounds are developed into commercial products, the team says that the study opens a new class of potential mosquito repellents.
The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Source: American Chemical Society