Are the beanstalks over your heads and the Japanese beetles in your garden driving you into a murderous rage? Then meet Jim White, creator of an eco-friendly insect repellent called Anti-Pest-O. Talk to him about bugs and find how we can dispense with them in the garden without relying on hard-core chemicals. The Portland resident came up with the formula for his product in the late 1990s as a form of self-defense when he was working as a botanist; every time he sprayed his plants with pesticides he broke out in a rash and/or developed a cough.
White is originally from New Hampshire. He studied botany in Australia at the University of New South Wales and came to Maine “basically looking for a job.” He “kicked around doing a few things” and then went into the top-secret perfume research business. He was growing flowers on a 50-acre farm in Denmark he’d leased. Are we talking Opium or Chanel No. 5? White isn’t telling: “I was doing research work for a couple of perfume companies, but it’s very proprietory.” But, he said, we “probably would” recognize the names if we heard them.
“I had these little guys that were attacking the flowers,” White said. Commercial pesticides helped. With the bugs anyway. “Sure it was mitigating the little guys, but it was doing a number on me.” While he coughed and scratched, he started doing his own research. “Being a botanist, I had a discussion with Mother Nature and we decided that in her repertoire there must be a combination of something that would work.”
He played around with various formulas for two years, including one that was all garlic. “Some of it worked, some of it didn’t,” he said. When he arrived at the final formula, it contained garlic, habanero peppers (“they’re the hottest”) and a derivative of the neem tree.
Head here to find the core ingredient, read how White bounced back from a stroke to work on the product. Also, see where you can stock up on some of this ‘green’ power.