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CDC Says Lemon Eucalyptus As Effective As DEET

mosquito on finger

Companies such as Cutter add Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus to current product lines.

Image: No Deet

There is a new reason for those living in mosquito territory to rejoice this summer!  The Centers For Disease Control (CDC), located in Atlanta, GA, has recently approved a non-toxic, plant-based insect repellant called Oil Of Lemon Eucalyptus.

image; FUNKY MOSQUITOIn two recent CDC publications, when oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the US, it provided protection similar to repellents containing DEET,  (N,N-diethyl meta-toluamide). Until now, DEET was the only repellent recommended by the CDC, and approved for individual use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Recent increases in the number of cases of West Nile virus and reports of toxicity in animals and children have prompted consumers to seek DEET alternatives, but until now the CDC has not endorsed any other plant-based product.

cutter bottleOil of lemon eucalyptus is similar in make-up to menthol and can be extracted naturally from eucalyptus leaves and twigs.

Another plus, lemon eucalyptus doesn’t have the oily feel and unpleasant smell of DEET products.  Look for products that contain the active ingredient p-Menthane-3,8-diol, such as Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Pump 4oz, $7.95 which can repel mosquitoes and ticks for up to 6 hours.

About Sebrina Zerkus Smith

Professional writer, foodie. Lupus survivor. Loves pugs, wine, days at the beach and good movies. Takes recycling seriously, but not much else. Sebrina Zerkus Smith is a Southern Gal that has been scratching the writer’s itch for nearly 30 years. Her career began in Washington, D.C., in 1987, fresh out of collage and full of ideals. While plying her trade by day on congressional reps and senators, at night she burned the candle writing features for local newspapers and national magazines. She quickly realized that her southern upbringing gave her a unique and humorous voice that resonated with her readers. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her dream of becoming a novelist and screenwriter. She paid her bills by working as a freelance writer for major marketing projects from studios such as CBS, NBC and Disney. Realizing that the future of writing lay with the internet, she was bitten by the blogging bug back in the 90’s, back before it was even called “blogging.” Then it was still just writing and trying to make a living. Through those early blogging years, Sebrina found passion and purpose. Over the past 10 years she has written articles for clients such as LightCues.com, MatterMore.com, Greenopolis, MacAddict, Yahoo, CNN and more. Today, Sebrina writes about a variety of topics including the Southern Experience, sustainability, clean water, food, gardening, sleep and her obsession with pugs. She is a regular paid contributor to WildOats.com as well as other entities. She now lives in Houston with her husband Jeff and their pug Newton. She hopes one day to complete her opus, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.


21 thoughts on “CDC Says Lemon Eucalyptus As Effective As DEET

  1. Good Stuff! Is it less toxic? just because it was plant-generated doesn’t make it non-toxic to humans! Think poison ivy! even some mushrooms – deadly toxic to us all! I’m thinking a mega-molecule mix of absolutely terrible carcinogens here! Nicotine anybody? Toxic? Causes cancer!Hemlock? not recommended in baby food that’s damn sure!
    Test this crap on animals first, then a test-group of Guatemalans or somebody, like we always do! Then publish the results for all to see – references, papers, scientists, Universities listed, named.

    Posted by Uncle B | May 7, 2011, 8:10 pm
  2. I want to point out that lemon and eucalyptus have a long history of contact with human skin without ill effects- Cutter’s is smart to rely on these natural substances that have long been “field-tested” – before there was such a thing as insect repellent.

    Posted by greenopolisjoe | May 11, 2011, 2:21 pm
  3. We’ve been making eucalyptus bug spray for a couple of years. If it’s the eucalyptus and lemon that are effective, why does Cutter and other products have p-Menthane-3,8-diol, and why should I look for products that have it?

    Posted by Betsy | May 16, 2011, 5:07 pm
  4. This may sound really stupid – sorry – but could I help with these buggers in my yard by planting lemon eucalyptus??

    Posted by Lesli | May 17, 2011, 2:41 am
  5. How do we know if the companies are using natural or synthetic oil in their product? Synthetic oil is apparently much less effective. Second, deforestation is obviously a concern, but also if there’s very little oil per leaf, is it really cost-effective and environmentally friendly to produce natural oils? I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon until I have these questions answered.

    Posted by jm | May 19, 2011, 12:14 pm
    • jm, I suppose an email or letter to Cutter could shed light on the kinds of oils they are using. Or look at the package- if it says eucalyptus oil, then it’s from the tree. Also eucalyptus is widely planted and managed, even invasive in some places so I don’t think overharvest is an issue. Now rainforest hardwoods is a different issue. Pass on the teak lawn chairs and buy the eucalyptus oil.

      Posted by greenopolisjoe | May 19, 2011, 2:38 pm
  6. I actually have that stuff and it works like a beast. I was on camping trip from hell and lost my like 90% deet spray, and had to rely on my fallback (this stuff) and it worked way better. It smells really good too! I got one bite while my friends got a ton. However, I generally do not get very many bites, so someone who gets molested by bugs might want to try a combo of this and deet.

    Posted by Haley | May 25, 2011, 7:04 pm
  7. Let’s go back into nature.

    Posted by Jteph | June 4, 2011, 2:07 pm
  8. Searching for Oil of L. E. now… if it works that’ll be such a treat to ditch the deet! *grin*

    Posted by Maria | June 5, 2011, 3:47 pm
  9. Good luck with spreading the news, it will be a hard sale, going against the profit margins of many multinational entities……..

    Posted by paul | July 4, 2011, 9:16 am
  10. I will walk into walk into Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest brightest colored bottle of bugspray in the endcap like I always do.

    Posted by joe cool | July 12, 2011, 1:12 pm
  11. There’s nothing like a good mosquito bite every now and again…

    Posted by jeet | July 14, 2011, 8:05 pm
  12. “p-Menthane-3,8-diol” there is nothing nontoxic about this ingrediant at all…it is a biochemical pesticide!

    Posted by Linda | August 3, 2011, 9:55 am
  13. “lemon eucalyptus” I believe, is simple cintronella oil…which you can buy almost anywhere..dab a bit on your cloths here and there and walla…far less bug bites if any! Why bother with the mixed concoctions with harmfull additives?

    Posted by Linda | August 3, 2011, 9:59 am
  14. While surrounded by swarms of mosquitoes that were biting relentlessly, I put this on and not a single mosquito bite.

    Posted by Dave | September 11, 2011, 10:26 am


  1. Pingback: To Deet or Not to Deet? « Camping Information - August 18, 2011

  2. Pingback: Lemon Eucalyptus Oil As Effective As DEET, Confirms CDC AnonHQ - May 7, 2016

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