Jatropha curcas is a folk remedy plant used in India and Africa to ward off bugs. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have found that it contains insect-repelling compounds.
USDA scientists have identified components of Jatropha curcas seed oil that are responsible for mosquito repellency.
Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Natural Products Utilization Research Unit (NPURU) in Oxford, Miss., often find effective plant-derived compounds to deter insects by gathering plants in the wild and investigating those used in traditional folk remedies. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
Researchers 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, according to Cantrell.
Working closely with colleagues at ARS and the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, Cantrell is 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.
The study was appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.