Scientists have identified that a folk remedy plant used in India and Africa to ward off bugs, has mosquito-repelling compounds, a finding that may help develop potent insect-repellants.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have identified components of Jatropha curcas seed oil that are responsible for mosquito repellency.
Researchers from USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), learned that people in India burn J curcas seed oil in lamps to keep insects out of their homes and other areas.
They extracted smoke from the plant in a laboratory and analysed its properties. Free fatty acids and triglycerides were among a number of active compounds found to be effective at preventing mosquitoes from biting.
Scientists have known for some time that fatty acids repel insects, but this was the first known report that identified triglycerides as having mosquito repellent activity, researcher Charles Cantrell said in a USDA statement.
Researchers are now exploring additional promising compounds from other plants. By combining these or similar compounds from other plants with those in Jatropha species, scientists might be able to develop a more effective product.