A few months ago I was interviewed for an article where they asked me whether I thought that a deer repellant which was taken up into a tree would be a good idea. I said sure, great idea. It would last a long time — something that most repellants currently don’t. Well, I just saw the article and I must say that I’m not so sure that it’s a great idea any more.
It seems that the repellant that they’re talking about is basically a combination of hot peppers and DMSO. The hot peppers have been around for a long time. The DMSO not so long — just a few decades really (though there is very small quantity of naturally occurring DMSO in fruits) but DMSO has some properties that concern me. When I was younger I was a competitive runner and I recall certain other runners using DMSO as a treatment for aches and pains. I also remember a run-down house along one of my regular runs selling the stuff via a cardboard sign on the porch. Looked kinda shady. I haven’t seen much DMSO around recently, maybe because it isn’t legal everywhere — at least as far as I can tell.
DMSO is a solvent which crosses membranes, such as skin, very easily. Apparently, if you use it anywhere on your body, it will make your breath garlicy. In terms of toxicity — it isn’t considered very toxic. However, it has the ability to dissolve things, such as poisons (the insecticide imidacloprid for example), and anything which it dissolves can then cross the skin barrier very rapidly right along with the DMSO.
So to me this is a little worrying. I don’t have much experience with DMSO, and I don’t have a problem with professional pesticide applicators who have the proper equipment applying DMSO, but I can’t help but wonder whether this stuff might be just a little too tempermental for the average homeowner to use. Apparently the EPA has it now. Here’s hoping that they’ll make the right decision, whatever that is.