October 6th, 2009 by BugGuy
Mosquitos are not just annoying pests; they can carry deadly diseases such as West Nile, malaria, dengue, etc… For years humans have been trying different substances to repel mosquitos but bug spray wears off and citronella candles aren’t very effective for the patio.
Well things may be changing. At the end of August several articles were published about mosquito research being performed by Anandasankar Ray PhD and his assistant Stephanie Lynn Turner at the University of California Riverside. A new, more effective and environmentally friendly mosquito repellent may be on the horizon.
Researchers have discovered mosquitos and other blood sucking flying insects are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale. So this new repellent is based on that principle. Fruit flies were the beginning in this study. Researchers were curious why fruit flies used carbon dioxide as a danger sign but were attracted to ripening fruit even though it emits carbon dioxide. It turns out odors released from the fruit blocked the fruit fly’s carbon dioxide receptors; the same holds true for the mosquito.
So far Ray has discovered two compounds, 1-butanal and 1-hexanol, that mimic food odors and show some promise in blocking those receptors that lead mosquitos to humans.
Possible benefits of the new mosquito repellent:
- Small amounts of the chemical proved effective
- Chemicals used for the repellent are easy to manufacture
- The chemicals may be used to repel mosquitos from entire backyards
Of course this new repellent is in the beginning stages but Ray hopes to see a marketable repellent in five years; some say it will take as long as a decade.
Are you a magnet for mosquitos? Some researchers are saying genetics may play a large part in why mosquitos seem to favor some people over others.