New bug repellant renders humans invisible to mosquitoes

New bug repellant renders humans invisible to mosquitoes

By Samantha EdwardsSamantha Edwards

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Photo by Maridav/Shutterstock.com

Mosquitoes and cottaging go together like campfires and s’mores, Muskoka chairs and beer. But thanks to a new ultra-effective repellant, those pesky bloodsuckers might no longer be a problem.

American scientists have created a natural chemical repellant that makes humans invisible to mosquitoes.

Heralded by creator Dr Ulrich Bernier, a research chemist at the United States Department of Agriculture research service, the repellant contains a blend of natural chemicals that mask the scent of humans.

The majority of repellants on the market contain DEET, a yellow oil that creates an unpleasant odour for mosquitoes. DEET-based repellants need to be reapplied frequently and dissolve types of plastic, synthetic fabrics, and painted surfaces. Worst yet, evidence suggests that flies and mosquitoes are developing a resistance to the repellants.

Bernier created the initial formula back in 2000. Since mosquitoes find their human victims based on various chemicals and bacteria on the skin, Bernier’s repellant contains several chemicals already found in small doses in humans. Years later, he added a new cocktail of chemicals found in the body, including homopiperazine and 1-methylhomopiperazine. Amazingly, Bernier found that the repellant camouflaged the scent of humans that mosquitoes find so appetizing.
 
As Bernier explained to Australian Geographic, “We took a cage of mosquitoes and gave them two ports to fly into: one with human hands inserted into them, and the other one with nothing.” At first, Ulrich explained, the mosquitoes were attracted to the container with the human hands. After the repellent was sprayed, however, they approached the containers with equal interest.”
 
Rather than spraying the repellant directly on the skin, it will take the form of a vapour that’s sprayed in the air, creating a protective bubble.

Although the repellant is not yet commercial available—more field andtoxicology tests are needed—the new formula represents the future of bug repellants.

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Michael Dickinson

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