All-natural bug repellant swats DEET

Janet Babin Apr 5, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: You know what else happens when the weather gets warm? The bugs come out. So does the bug spray with chemicals like DEET. But there’s a new product that might give Deet a run for its money. And it’s all-natural. Janet Babin reports from our Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.

JANET BABIN: Dr. Michael Roe was just trying to find another insecticide.

But during his research at North Carolina State, he stumbled upon a naturally-occurring substance that ticks and mosquitoes hate. It’s on the stem hairs of wild tomato plants.

MICHAEL ROE: The compound itself smells like a tomato plant. The actual repellent that’ll be sold commercially, of course, is gonna have some different scents in it to make most people accept the smell better.

Tomato plants make it to keep bugs off of them.

And now, the government has approved the stuff — called BioUD — as safe and effective, even for children. That could make it more popular than DEET.

Biotech firm HOMS is adding BioUD to its Bite Blocker repellent. Wal-Mart has already signed on to sell it. HOMS expects its sales to soar well above $1 million by 2008.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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