• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note/Natural Insecticide

Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Living on Earth’s Jessica Penney reports on a new mosquito repellent that’s derived from tomatoes.


PENNEY: Just as the summer pest season gets into full swing, scientists have found a new natural weapon against bugs. Researchers at North Carolina State University discovered that a substance from tomatoes repels insects better than the old standby, the chemical commonly known as DEET.

Many Americans use DEET every year. But the chemical can cause irritation and neurological problems in some people. And the EPA does not allow products containing DEET to carry a "safe for children" label.

This new tomato-based repellant is believed to be part of the plant’s own defense system. And the EPA gives it the safest pesticide rating. Researchers discovered the chemical years ago when studying ways to control tomato-eating worms. Then they realized it was similar to synthetic chemicals being developed to control mosquitoes.

In tests, they found the tomato substance repels mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, and other pests such as cockroaches and aphids. Researchers hope to market the new repellant by next year. But in the meantime, don’t go spreading yourself with tomato juice. The chemical repellant is only found in wild tomatoes, not those perfectly ripe, red, round ones at your local market. That’s this week’s Health Note. I’m Jessica Penney.


TOOMEY: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.




Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth