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Future Bug Repellent: Grapefruit?

All-natural chemical sends mosquitos, ticks fleeing
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2011 5:53 PM CDT
Future Bug Repellent: Grapefruit?
Grapefruit could hold the key to a new wave of bug repellents.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Repelled by bug repellent? The answer to your bug-blocking needs may be found in a grapefruit. A chemical called nootkatone found in citrus fruit and certain Alaskan trees works wonders against mosquitos, ticks, and probably bedbugs—and it’s likely safe enough to drink, NPR reports. “If you've had a grapefruit, you've consumed some nootkatone,” says a scientist.

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In a demonstration, the researcher stuck a ootkatone-coated hand into a jar full of mosquitos for five minutes, and didn’t get a single bite. Instead, the mosquitos flew in the opposite direction. Indeed, the substance can actually destroy them: “It kills very, very quickly, usually within a matter of about 15 seconds,” says the scientist. The Centers for Disease Control are working hard to get the product on the market; trouble is, it currently costs some $4,000 per kilogram. (Read more mosquito stories.)

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