Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, proven insect repellant!
Barbara Pleasant wrote for Mother Earth News April/May 2009, Beautyberry Banishes Bad Biting Bugs: Researches are finding evidence that beautyberry, long used as a folk remedy, really does deter bugs such as ants, ticks and others.
In 2006, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, Miss., found that extracts from beautyberry leaves could match DEET for repelling mosquitoes. The next year, experiments showed that the active ingredients from the leaves (callicarpenal and intermedeol) provided 100-percent repellency of black-legged ticks for three hours. In 2008, the four-person research team, headed by chemist Charles Cantrell in Mississippi and entomologist Jerome Klun in Maryland, published research that added fire ants to the list of pests repelled by essential oil distilled from beautyberry leaves....
Fresh green leaves, crushed and rubbed on people or pets, often repel insects for a couple of hours.
- Synthesis of (-)-callicarpenal a natural arthropod-repellent terpenoid - (Peer Reviewed Journal)
- Ling, T., Xu, J., Smith, R., Ali, A., Cantrell, C.L., Theodorakis, E.A. 2011. Synthesis of (-)-callicarpenal a natural arthropod-repellent terpenoid. Tetrahedron. 67:3023-3029.
- Structure-Activity Relationship Studies on the Mosquito Toxicity and Biting Deterrency of Callicarpenal Derivatives - (Peer Reviewed Journal)
- Cantrell, C.L., Klun, J.A., Pridgeon, Y.W., Becnel, J.J., Green Iii, S., Fronczek, F.R. 2009. Structure-Activity Relationship Studies on the Mosquito Toxicity and Biting Deterrency of Callicarpenal Derivatives. Chemistry and Biodiversity. 6:447-458.
- Repellency of Callicarpenal and Intermedeol Against Workers of Imported Fire Ants Reprint Icon - (Peer Reviewed Journal)
- Chen, J., Cantrell, C.L., Duke, S.O., Allen, M.L. 2008. Repellency of Callicarpenal and Intermedeol Against Workers of Imported Fire Ants. Journal of Economic Entomology.101(2):265-271 (2008).
I wonder if leaves ground up and mixed with vinegar would make an insect repellant that would keep for later use. We've got plenty of beautyberry bushes and plenty of mosquitoes and fire ants out here in the piney woods, so I think I'll try it.