Creating a DEET-free mosquito repellent that actually works

August 13, 2015, 8:51 PM UTC
Anopheles Minimus
This close-up photograph shows the Anopheles minimus mosquito, a malaria vector of the Orient, feeding on a human host. An. Minimus is one of the mosquito species responsible for spreading the drug resistant P. falciparum parasite in Thailand and Vietnam.
Photo by Media for Medical UIG—Getty Images

Enjoying time outside might just get a lot better. A mosquito repellent technology is in the works that could make us practically invisible to mosquitos. No more will products that don’t fully work, or the effective, yet very toxic DEET be the only options for us to defend against mosquitos.

With a growing presence of research, the dangers of mosquitoes are being more realized. As the New York Times cites, “According to the World Health Organization, mosquitoes remain the deadliest animal on the planet, carrying diseases like West Nile, chikungunya, and malaria that kill more than a million people a year.”

The need for a real solution to the perennial problem of those winged vessels of disease is consistently relevant. But mosquitoes do have a positive impact on the ecosystem like providing food for animals so inclined to consume them. So while we can’t just do away with them, we can—and need to—look for a way to live with them.

That’s where Kite comes in. Kite is “an international team that assembled to develop a new system for transforming mosquito-fighting innovations into disease-defeating products and applications.”

The advances at the Kite facility boast promising results to help us live in bite-free harmony. With an Indiegogo campaign that drew in over $500,000 with 11,254 contributors in just one month, the demand and anticipation is apparent.

The New York Times writes that when using a Kite patch, “no mosquitoes landed anywhere near it,” citing, “the new compound works by confusing a mosquito’s senses, hindering its ability to target us based on the carbon dioxide we exhale, and confounding its capacity to locate us up close.”

While its creators remain tight-lipped about its ingredients, it is reportedly “made of fragrances and other compounds that don’t require E.P.A. approval. A second version is awaiting regulatory approval for 2017.”

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