Mosquitoes and ticks are not just a nuisance, they can transmit life threatening diseases. Tick and mosquito-borne illnesses have been rising in recent years across the country.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discovered and developed a new active ingredient to be used in insect repellents and insecticides.
“Insecticide resistance, of course, is a problem that we have to constantly tackle, and so when we use different things and they become less and less effective, we need to come up with novel ways of doing so. And this is something that helps us to do that,” said Dr. Kristy Murray, a professor of pediatrics, molecular virology, microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.
"Nootkatone" is a naturally occurring substance found in cedar trees and grapefruit skin, according to the CDC. It's responsible for the smell and taste of grapefruit, and it's currently used to make fragrances. Research shows it may protect from bites as well as products that are currently available.
Diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks including West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease are an increasing health threat. Experts are especially concerned this year with so many of us spending more time outdoors because of the pandemic.
“We're moving all of our events outside, and people are being more active outdoors as well. They're going to have more mosquito exposure, they're going to have more tick exposure, and so there's a lot of things that we need to do to prepare people and help to protect them as well,” Murray said.
She said to prevent bites, choose an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of these active ingredients:
Also wear long sleeved shirts and long pants and do not spray repellent under clothes.
If you need to apply sunscreen and insect repellent, experts recommend applying sunscreen first and insect repellent second.