Dr. Ben Beard, the Deputy Director of the Cdc’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, on the Epa’s Approval of Nootkatone, a Naturally Occurring Pesticide Found in Grapefruit that Both Repels and Kills Insects.

August 10, 2020

If you drink Fresca or Squirt, you’ve drunk nootkatone.

  • Nootkatone is found in grapefruit and contributes to both its smell and taste.
  • It was discovered and developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and has been used for many years in fragrances and flavoring.
  • Now it’s registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meaning that it can be used as the active ingredient in bug repellents and insecticides as soon as 2022.
  • The CDC said that “providing new alternatives to existing bite-prevention methods paves the way to solving one of biggest challenges in preventing vector-borne diseases—preventing bites.” (vector-borne disease = disease like malaria – “human disease caused by parasites”).
  • Why It Matters: Illnesses from mosquito and ticks doubled in the U.S. from 2004 to 2018, according to the CDC. In many parts of America, mosquitoes have become resistant to existing pesticides and the EPA hopes nootkatone will help prevent mosquito borne diseases, like Zika and West Nile.

by Jenna Lee,