Experts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, say that a chemical compound found in grapefruit essential oil is proving to be an effective tick repellent, even against the ticks that carry Lyme disease.
The USDA’s work with grapefruit essential oil for ticks goes back to at least 2008. But the researchers there quickly realized that it simply wasn’t potent enough to kill ticks in their nymph stage, which is the stage in the development at which they are most likely to transmit Lyme disease.
But by isolating and chemically encapsulating a component known as nootkatone, researchers say, they were able to create a spray that, in field tests, demonstrated a near-100% effectiveness. And it did it without harming the plants it was sprayed on.
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