Coconut Oil Compounds Repel Insects Better than DEET
Compounds derived from coconut oil are better than DEET at repelling blood-sucking insects, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.
In recent research published in Scientific Reports, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists identified specific coconut oil fatty acids that have strong repellency and long-lasting effectiveness against multiple insects—mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and bed bugs—that can transmit diseases to humans and animals.
Coconut oil itself is not a repellent. However, the coconut oil-derived free fatty acid mixture—lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid as well as their corresponding methyl esters—provides strong repellency against blood-sucking insects. By encapsulating coconut fatty acids into a starch-based formula, field trials showed this all-natural formula could provide protection to cattle against stable flies for up to 96 hours or 4 days. DEET was only 50 percent effective against stable flies, while the coconut oil compound was more than 95 percent effective.