Video: This Small Patch Could Make You Invisible To Mosquitoes

Mosquito defense may have a new secret weapon.

It looks like a nicotine patch, but the little diamond-shaped Kite Patch is laced with a very special sauce that its developers claim can DEET, which works by confusing these sensors. But some research suggests it can be toxic, especially to children. It is also a bit too expensive for everyday use, especially in the poorer countries stricken with mosquito-borne diseases. Oh yeah, and it melts plastic. Yikes.

Chemical mystery

The Kite Patch developer, Olfactor Laboratories, says that their product works in much the same way as DEET — blocking mosquitoes’ carbon dioxide receptors. But, the Kite Patch uses chemicals that are so safe they are considered “food grade flavors” by the Food and Drug Administration.

Presumably the patch would be safer than repellents made from chemicals like DEET, PMD, and Picaridin.

The magical compounds are based on research done by Anandasankar Ray‘s laboratory at the University of California, Riverside, which owns the intellectual property on which the formula is based. They aren’t releasing the actual ingredients in the patch, but we can guess about its contents from previous research from their group.

Scientist Stephanie Turner and colleagues observed that fruit flies were attracted to ripening fruit in spite of the fact that it emits carbon dioxide — a chemical the flies use to warn each other of danger. They found that fruit also emits odors that prevent the flies from detecting the CO2, allowing the flies to locate the fruit.

Building on this research, the team identified several compounds that block mosquitoes from sensing CO2, including 2,3-butanedione, 1-hexanol, 1-butanal, and 1-pentanal. These could very well be the secret ingredients in the Kite Patch.

Testing the patch

Olfactor Laboratories has been raising money to test the patch in Uganda, which Kite co-founder calls “one of the toughest proving grounds there is” because of its huge mosquito population and high rates of malaria infection. If that works, they expect — with EPA approval — to market the three-square-inch patch in the EPA.

Kite is a “spatial” protectant. You put a tiny square somewhere on your shirt and it emits a chemical signal that protects a larger area of Cameron Webb, a researcher at the University of DEET stopped 100% of landings.”

70% still is not bad, you might think, and it is enough to Olfactor Laboratories is hoping the Kite Patch will succeed where others have failed.

Robert Ferris - Business Insider