Insect Resistant Textiles for Disease Vector Protection

Dr. Bryan Koene | Luna Innovations Incorporated



More active military service days have been lost to diseases, many of them transmitted by mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and mites, than to combat. These arthropods are capable of spreading diseases with serious short and long term effects on soldiers’ health, including permanent scarring, and possibly death. Permethrin is the only product labeled for clothing application by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is a key component of the DOD Insect Repellent System. However, there are several problems with Permethrin: 1) it has been reported that several vector species have developed resistance to pyrethroids based repellents, significantly diminishing protection of service members, 2) permethrin wears off with repeated use and laundering, 3) it is highly toxic to fish and other wildlife, and 4) improper usage of the treatment kit leads to ineffective protection. This program will develop a novel durable, non-toxic textile that is protective against vector-borne diseases, effective after repeating wear and laundering, and compatible with current / future military uniforms, t-shirts, socks, etc.

Back to Top

Technical Approach

The ideal solution for insect resistance will replace the current permethrin-treated fabrics with a fabric that possesses a non-chemical resistance to insect bites. This new textile would also be expected to maintain all of the desired physical properties of current uniform textiles. The project will utilize non-toxic mechanical insecticides with proven efficacy against mosquito strains that carry the main bite transmitted disease vectors. These novel materials will be transitioned to a wash durable formulation for military uniforms. To achieve this end, Luna will leverage its experience with textile coatings development (flame retardant, insect resistant, antimicrobial, fluid repellent), to provide a wash durable textile treatment that provides insect resistance while maintaining the same breathability, flexibility, and comfort as current uniform textiles. The effectiveness of the prepared samples will be investigated against a wide range of arthropod vectors using in vitro bioassay system and/or in vivo methods using human volunteers.

Back to Top


This research is part of a comprehensive development effort for protective textiles and uniforms. The ability to produce a textile with non-toxic insecticidal / insect resistance will be a huge benefit to numerous military and commercial applications. The research team has extensive experience with research and development of new materials, as well as prototype uniform manufacturing and field demonstration for US military and first responders. The team also has a novel textile treatment developed under SBIR funding currently distributed worldwide, through partnerships with manufacturing companies, textile mills, and clothing/uniform producers. This textile treatment will likely join these as a new commercial product.

Back to Top

Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Bryan Koene

Luna Innovations Incorporated

Phone: 540-558-1699