Alaska Seabird May Provide Insect Repellent

by M.D. on September 27, 2006

auklet.jpegThe crested auklet (photo credit: Hector Douglas), a seabird located north in Alaska, may hold the key for repelling ticks and mosquitoes, as efficiently as current synthetic bug repellents. A researcher, Hector Douglas, a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, spent time studying the auklet’s years ago. He noticed that the birds smelled like a “citrus grove” when they passed him by.

Eventually, Mr. Douglas was led to do research on the birds, and the specific odor they produced. The scent of chemicals found in the crested auklet’s odor was composed of aldehydes. To reproduce this scent as a potential bug repellent, Douglas used a combination of synthetic chemicals. Two tests were conducted using lice and mosquitoes.

In the first test with lice, a can was stuck on a record player. The record player provided movement, and the can was heated to simulate the human body. When the can contained none of the synthetic bug deterrent, the lice would cover the can. When the repellent was added, the lice would stay away.

The second test was done with a very aggressive species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito. Douglas placed his hand in a cage full of female mosquitoes. He covered his hand with filter paper, and mosquitoes would swarm his hand. When the mosquito repellent was added, the similar scent of the crested auklet repelled mosquitoes up to a range of 99 percent effectiveness. These very impressive results are similar to the effects DEET has on mosquitoes. Results of these tests were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. More tests and safety precautions must be taken before this repellent can be used commercially however.

It seems that while our purpose for the crested auklet’s scent is to find a better mosquito repellent, their’s is more primal. The bird uses this citrus smelling scent in courtship.

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Squirrel Repellent | Squirrel Proof

by M.D. on September 12, 2006

squirrel-repellent.jpgUnfortunately, Squirrel Proof has been discontinued. Anyone who has had a squirrel problem knows they’re a difficult animal to repel. The squirrel in the pic by fuzzcat is such a problem. Squirrels may look and act cute at your local camp site. Get one or more in your back yard, and they can become a pest quickly. Our editor, Mike, made the blunder of feeding one of our little friends some pumpkin seeds. Big mistake. The squirrel wouldn’t leave, and started robbing the two bird feeders. It took a while, but Mike found a product that works to protect the seeds in his two bird feeders: Squirrel Proof.

Squirrel Proof is a non-toxic, all natural repellent against the squirrel population. This deterrent works by taking advantage of the biology of both birds and squirrels. The reason most squirrels hang around an area is because they’ve found a food source. It’s highly likely that food source is your bird feeder. Squirrel Proof works by treating the seeds you put in the feeder.

Biologically, squirrels are like humans. They can taste hot sensations. Studies conducted by Dr. Blumberg at the National Institute of Health determined birds can’t. Studies showed that birds either don’t have capsaicin receptors, or ones that aren’t sensitive to heat. Humans have these receptors, like squirrels, which produce the pain you receive when eating something spicy. Birds do prefer some tastes to others, but are not affected by the trademarked chili pepper ingredient Squirrel Proof uses.

Squirrel Proof was easy to use. The directions on the bottle are simple to follow. You basically mix it with the bird seed you put in your feeder. A bottle will treat 35 lbs of seed and costs less than $10.

The company also sells pre-treated bird seed, but it was so inexpensive and easy to use that Mike went with the bottle. This squirrel repellent worked. The squirrel soon stopped eating the bird seed. Here’s the best part though. Once the squirrel has been conditioned to associate with the bad taste and smell of the mix, you can spread the seed around your garden, or other areas the squirrel may be acting as a nuisance. Sprinkle Squirrel Proof around your bulbs before they’re stolen.

The Squirrel Proof squirrel repellent is a winner because it is used on a natural attractant. Usually bird seed is covered, so you don’t have to worry about it washing away. It worked for Mike, we hope it works for you. Unfortunately, Squirrel Proof has been discontinued.

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