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To test the mosquitoes’ aversion to the oil, the researchers filled small vials with a red-colored feeding solution that mimicked human blood and covered the vials with a thin membrane. Then, they coated the membranes with different substances: the sweetgrass oil, alternative sweetgrass extracts obtained without steam distillation, the gold-standard insect repellent N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) or the ethanol solvent control. Then, the bugs got the chance to either bite the membranes to get to the blood or pass them by. The researchers observed what the insects did, counting how many mosquitoes went for a bite of each type of “blood” vat.
“Then you take the mosquitoes and squish them on some paper,” says Cantrell. “If they have the blood mimic in them, you see it right there on the paper.” Of the sweetgrass extracts, the steam-distilled oil got the fewest mosquito bites, matching the repellent potency of DEET.
The next step was to figure out the exact chemicals that give the sweetgrass oil its anti-mosquito power. The researchers purified the oil into 12 fractions and again checked their ability to ward off the bugs. They found three fractions that repelled mosquitoes as well as the oil. Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry, the researchers identified two chemicals in these active fractions that seemed to be responsible for putting off mosquitoes: phytol and coumarin.
originally posted by: Caver78
a reply to: rickymouse
Believe it or not I've been to plenty of Pow-Wow's and never heard that, which is why this surprised me so much!
Plus it's been so expensive it's not like anyone was burning it willy-nilly.