NIFA Funds Lab to Develop
Natural Pest Repellent
With the increasing public concern about
insect-borne diseases such as West Nile virus
and the use of artificial compounds in insect
repellent, better insect control methods
are needed. There are a number of effective
repellents available, including those containing
DEET, but some people are reluctant to use
them because they contain artificial chemicals.
Also, some commercial DEET-based repellents
can be unsafe because their formulations
can accidentally ignite when applied to clothing
or skin. Consequently, there is need for
a natural repellent which is as effective
and safe as DEET repellants.
Dr. R. M. Roe, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of entomology at
North Carolina State University, has discovered a natural repellent from the
tomato plant effective against a wide variety of pests including mosquitoes,
ticks, flies, and agricultural insects. The commercial product, sold under the
trade name BioBlock UD, has been shown to be as effective as DEET for mosquito
control and more effective than DEET for tick control. Since the public may be
more accepting of all natural BioBlock UD than current DEET-based products, they
may use it more and therefore be better protected from insect- and tick-borne
The product is formulated as a water-based emulsion, is safe, and non-flammable.
The repellent has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
as a biological and will be sold as all natural. EPA registration in the United
States is scheduled for 2006.
In addition to the use of BioBlock UD as a repellent on humans, the material
should have a number of other applications, including: in livestock and animal
production; protection of dogs, cats, and horses; area-wide control of mosquitoes
and flies around decks, swimming pools, and other outdoor areas; organic gardening;
and the production of repellent cloths.
Funding for this project comes from the North Carolina Agricultural Research
Service. Dr. Roe’s laboratory has also been almost continuously funded
by NIFA since 1983, through programs like Hatch and National Research Initiative.
His current NIFA NRI grant is to continue working on the Trypsin modulating
oostatic factor (TMOF) chemistry which led to this discovery.
For more information contact Dr. R. Michael
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