Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mosquitos and Repellent Made from Breadfruit

I have tried organic mosquito repellents before, and I thought they were a big waste of time.  DEET, diethyl toluamide, is the usual one. DEET is a weak neurotoxin, and it numbs the noses of mosquitos, so they can't find you.

Yesterday, I was hauling bricks out of the woods, and I had DEET on my face. When I got some on my lips, I could feel them getting numb. Sometimes infants are harmed by an over-protective mother slathering DEET all over baby.

Breadfruit is a prolific crop grown in southern Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and other tropical areas.  The flowers of the tree reputedly repel mosquitos and now researchers Maxwell and Jones at U of British Columbia have proven it.

They have separated out all the individual substances and found the three responsible ones---all fatty acids, capric acid, undeconoic acid and laurie acid that have ten to twelve carbons.  

Undecanoic acid is one of the ingredients in breadfruit blossoms.
The flowers are a good spot to find the fatty acids.  

No one thinks that C-10 to C-12 fatty acids are neurotoxins, so I wonder how it works.

My DW believes that coconut oil is a balm for all illnesses, and one that coconut oil is touted for is mosquito repellency. It is interesting coconut oil has a lot of C-6 to C-12 fatty acid, so rancid or over-processed coconut oil might work as a mosquito repellent.  Cooking up coconut oil to degrade it, especially with acid or base would make it work better. I did not find any commercial mosquito repellants like that.

There is a slightly geekier version of this on my other blog.