Development of Melaleuca oils as effective natural-based personal insect repellents

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Entomology, 2010, 49 (1), pp. 40 - 48
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For many decades effective insect repellents have relied on synthetic actives such as N,N-diethyl-. meta-toluamide. Increasingly, consumers are seeking natural-based alternatives to many everyday products including insect repellents. While many studies have been published detailing the potential of essential oils to act as insect repellents, few oils have been identified as viable alternatives to synthetic actives. This study details the process involved in the selection of Australian essential oils effective as repellents and the subsequent testing of natural-based insect repellents using the selected oils. Using a combination of laboratory-based and field-based testing, oil from Melaleuca ericifolia was identified as being an effective insect repellent. When formulated into three different bases: an alcohol-based spray, an emulsion and a gel, these Melaleuca-based repellents were shown to be as effective at repelling mosquitoes Aedes vigilax (Skuse) (Diptera: Culicidae) and Verrallina carmenti (Edwards) (Diptera: Culicidae), the bush fly Musca vetustissima (Walker) (Diptera: Muscidae), and biting midges Culicoides ornatus (Taylor) (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) and Culicoides immaculatus (Lee & Reye) (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) as a synthetic-based commercial repellent. This study has shown that effective insect repellents based on natural active ingredients can deliver repellency on par with synthetic actives in the field. Three Melaleuca-based formulations have been registered as repellents and are now commercially available. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Australian Entomological Society.
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