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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359266

Research Project: Improved Utilization of Low-Value Oilseed Press Cakes and Pulses for Health-Promoting Food Ingredients and Biobased Products

Location: Functional Foods Research

Title: Development of new coconut oil-based biting fly repellents

item Kenar, James - Jim
item Cermak, Steven - Steve
item Zhu, Junwei - Jerry

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/6/2019
Publication Date: 5/8/2019
Citation: Kenar, J.A., Cermak, S.C., Zhu, J.J. 2019. Development of new coconut oil-based biting fly repellents [abstract]. American Oil Chemists Society. p. 86.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Many blood-sucking insects such as flies are capable of transmitting human and animal pathogens worldwide and can be serious pests of humans and animals. For example, stable flies (Stomoxys calcitran) alone can cause over $2 billion annually in losses to the U.S. cattle industry. Repellents are an important tool for reducing the impact of biting insects on humans and animals and plant- and botanical-based derivatives have been used against insects in agricultural and urban settings for at least two millennia. However, most plant-based repellents are short-lived in their effectiveness, primarily due to their high volatility. We recently discovered that inexpensive coconut oil-based fatty acids are an excellent insect repellent and active against a broad array of blood-feeding insects. The C8 to C12 medium-chain fatty acids represent >65% of total fatty acids present in coconut oil and were shown to be the predominant repellent compounds. Laboratory bioassays showed these compounds repel biting flies for two weeks after application with stronger repellency and longer residual activity than that of DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), the most effective and long-lasting repellent currently available commercially. The coconut fatty acids were also formulated into an inexpensive aqueous starch formulation that showed significant protection (may be the longest lasting repellent reported to date) against biting flies for cattle treated with this formulation. These promising results suggest these compounds may be easily adopted for livestock animal producers as well as other public health applications for preventative repellent protection.