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Natural Relief from the SC State Bird!

May 1, 2007

The Post and Courier printed this story on the repellent qualities of wild tomatoes today:
TUESDAY, MAY 01, 2007 7:08 AM

Tomato a day keeps mosquitoes at bay?
Bio-friendly repellent could be key to bug-free, DEET-free summer

The Post and Courier
RALEIGH – The summer biters are coming – jabbing mosquitoes, knifing blackflies, ripping no-see-ums and surreptitious ticks.

Don’t scream. Get tomatoes.

Entomologist Michael Roe stuck his swabbed arm into a laboratory cage full of mosquitoes and pulled it out unscathed. With that, he discovered a human use for his research into an insect-repelling compound found in wild tomatoes that he planned to introduce to cultivated tomatoes.

BioUD repellent is expected to be available for sale in South Carolina in about three weeks. That should be just in time, with the gnats beginning to appear and the thermometer well past the 62-degree mark that gets mosquitoes popping. Roe said tests in the lab and a skeeter-infested swamp in the North Carolina Piedmont suggest BioUD works as well as, if not better than, DEET, the ubiquitous, toxic chemical pesticide in lotions and sprays.

Natural repellents are nothing new; the citronella candle might be the best-known. But one that stands up to biting bugs like DEET? That’s news.

Cypress Gardens naturalist Lori Sheridan Wilson and Director Dwight Williams sprayed themselves with a sample batch of BioUD on a recent afternoon, then went outside to talk to a group of unsprayed tourists. The visitors said the biting flies that had been flying around before the staffers sat down were gone. But after the staffers left, the flies returned.

As to whether it is better than DEET, “I’d have to try it when it’s really buggy,” Sheridan Wilson said. “It smells much better than DEET products. It doesn’t have the warnings. If it’s anywhere near as good, I’d use it.”

BioUD is being marketed as a natural, bio-friendly repellent. It just won federal Environmental Protection Agency registry as a biopesticide, with the only caution being “use as directed,” said EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones.

The EPA classifies DEET as safe but slightly toxic, a carcinogen but not one affecting humans and not recommended for children younger than 2 months old.

Roe touts his stuff as safe for babies and, unlike flammable, alcohol-based pesticides, usable in clothing.

“It’s more of a ‘green’ type technology,” Roe said. “From a chemical standpoint, it’s believed to be a safe chemical. I won’t say DEET isn’t a great product, but no matter how good a repellent might be, if people are afraid to use it, it doesn’t help. That’s just the reality.”

The patent is the 10th or so for Roe, he thinks – blowing air out through his lips as he thinks about it. The 54-year-old is the kind of guy who hangs on the wall of his North Carolina State University office a collection of butterflies, moths, beetles and flies that won him a championship ribbon at the Louisiana State Fair as a 4-H Club member in 1969.

He was the kind of kid who grew up blocking the paths of fire ants to see what they would do; he is the professor who keeps an eye on the business value as much as the academic publication value of research.

“I think you have to be willing to think out of the box, to say things that sound crazy,” Roe said.

How sure is he that BioUD will work in the buggy, buggy Lowcountry?

“Well, I grew up in Louisiana,” he said, “where you have to wear a face mask the mosquitoes are so thick.”

About BioUD

–It’s a natural insect repellent that uses a compound found in wild tomato plants

–It’s expected to be available in three weeks online at

–HOMS LLC, the manufacturer, says it will also be available at retailers such as Wal-Mart and some supermarkets.

–Suggested retail price is $6.99 for 6 ounces.

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