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The first new insect repellent approved in 11 years smells like grapefruit



A new kind of disgusting insect will be going on the shelves of pharmacies – and it smells like grapefruit.

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it had approved a new ingredient, called nootkatone, that repels and kills mosquitoes and ticks. The naturally occurring ingredient – which is responsible for the characteristic grapefruit aroma – was discovered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and developed into an insecticide. It’s also found in Alaskan yellow cedar trees and is widely used in the cosmetics industry to make perfumes and columns.

In registering the new ingredient, EPA is acknowledging that it is safe and effective, and officially gives the green light for companies to use nootkatone to develop new products for humans and pets.

“Studies show that when products are formulated from the new ingredient, nootkatone, they can repel and kill ticks, mosquitoes and a variety of other bite pests,” the EPA said in a statement. Diseases transmitted by these insects include Lyme disease, malaria and Zika virus.

CDC has worked with Evolva, a biotechnology company, to develop and research the ingredient.

Studies have shown that nootkatone can work as well as other insect repellents, such as DEET. Protection against insect bites is expected to last several hours with nootkatone, the EPA noted.

The introduction of a new chemical – the first since 2009 – may also help combat resistance to many common insect repellents seen by insects today. (When insects develop resistance to an ingredient, the product is less effective.)

Mosquito and tick-borne disease are a growing threat in the US According to the CDC, the number of cases of infectious disease has doubled from 2004 to 2016.

“I think it’s a big contribution to our arsenal of repellents,” Dr Brian Fallon, director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Research Center at Columbia University in New York City, told nootkatone.

Companies interested in developing nootkatone products will be able to submit them for review by the EPA, and the products may be available to consumers starting in 2022.

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