New ingredient may keep bugs at bay

Research we're watching

Published: November, 2020

A new type of bug spray may hit the market in the next few years. The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved a new ingredient for use in these products. Called nootkatone, this ingredient, which smells like grapefruit, is hoped to safely kill and drive away mosquitos and ticks. Studies show that it's about as effective as other ingredients used in insect sprays, and it can provide protection against bugs for several hours at a time.

Nootkatone is found naturally in Alaska yellow cedar trees as well as in grapefruit skin and has long been used in perfumes. Now that the ingredient is registered with the EPA, companies can use it to develop commercial insecticides, something that could happen as soon as 2022, according to the CDC. This will expand the options for insect control and may be particularly useful in areas where insects have become resistant to existing products, says the CDC.

Image: © Adisak Mitrprayoon/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.