Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes


Since ancient times, plant products were used in various aspects. However, their use against pests decreased when chemical products became developed. Recently, concerns increased with respect to public health and environmental security requiring detection of natural products that may be used against insect pests. In this study, 41 plant extracts and 11 oil mixtures were evaluated against the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti (Linnaeus), the malaria vector, Anopheles stephensi (Liston), and the filariasis and encephalitis vector, Culex quinquefasciatus (Say) (Diptera: Culicidae) using the skin of human volunteers to find out the protection time and repellency. The five most effective oils were those of Litsea (Litsea cubeba), Cajeput (Melaleuca leucadendron), Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia), Violet (Viola odorata), and Catnip (Nepeta cataria), which induced a protection time of 8 h at the maximum and a 100% repellency against all three species. This effect needs, however, a peculiar formulation to fix them on the human skin.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. Ansari MA, Vasudevan P, Tandon M, Razdan RK (2000) Larvicidal and mosquito repellent action of peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil. Bioresour Technol 71:267–271

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Barnard D (1999) Repellency of essential oils to mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae). J Med Entomol 36:625–629

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Bläske V, Hertel H, Forschler BT (2003) Repellent effects of isoborneol on subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in soils different composition. J Econ Entomol 96:1267–1274

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Chavasse DC, Yap HH (1997) Chemical methods for the control of vectors and pests of public health importance. Geneva, Switzerland, WHO/CTD/WHOPES/97.2.129 p

  5. Curtis CF, Hill N (1988) Comparison of methods of repelling mosquitoes. Entomol Exp Appl 49:175–179

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Das NG, Nath DR, Baruah I, Talukdar PK, Das SG (1999) Field evaluation of herbal mosquito repellents. J Commun Dis 31(4):241–245

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Debboun M, Strickman D, Klein TA, Glass JA, Wylie E, Laughinghouse A, Wirtz RA, Gupta RK (1999) Laboratory evaluation of AI3-37220, AI3-35765, CIC-4, and DEET repellents against three species of mosquitoes. J Am Mosq Control Assoc 15:342–347

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Dover C (1930) An improved citronella mosquito deterrent. Indian J Med Res 17:961

    Google Scholar 

  9. Eisner T (1964) Catnip: its raison d’etre. Science 146:1318–1320

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Eisner T, Eisner M, Aneshansley DJ, WuC, Meinwald J (2000) Chemical defense of the mint plant, Teucrium marum (Labiatae). Chemoecology 10:211–216

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Freeborn SB (1928) Observations on the control of Sierran Aedes (Culicidae: Diptera). Pan-Pac Entomol 4:177–181

    Google Scholar 

  12. Gupta RK, Rutledge LC (1989) Laboratory evaluation of controlled-release repellent formulations on human volunteers under three climatic regimens. J Am Mosq Control Assoc 5:52–55

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Jantan I, Zaki ZM (1998) Development of environment-friendly insect repellents from the leaf oils of selected Malaysian plants. ASEAN Review of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, May 1998

  14. Jilani G, Saxena CR, Rueda BP (1988) Repellent and growth-inhibiting effects of turmeric oil, sweetflag oil, neem oil, and margosan-O on red flour beetle (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). J Econ Entomol 81:1226–1230

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Moore BP (1974) In: Birch MC (ed) Pheromones. North Holland/Am. Elsevier, Amsterdam, New York, p 250

    Google Scholar 

  16. Palsson K, Jaenson TGT (1999) Plant products used as mosquito repellents in Guinea Bissau, West Africa. Acta Tropica 72:39–52

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Penfold AR, Morrison FR (1952) Some Australian essential oils in insecticides and repellents. Soap,Perfum Cosmet 52:933–934

    Google Scholar 

  18. Perttunen V (1957) Reactions of two bark species, Hylurgops palliatus Gyll. and Hylastes arer Payk. To the terpene α-pinene. Suomen Hyonteistieteellinen Aikakauskirja 23:101–110

    Google Scholar 

  19. Peterson CJ, Ems-Wilson J (2003) Catnip essential oil as a barrier to subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in the laboratory. J Econ Entomol 96:1275–1282

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Peterson C, Coats J (2001) Insect repellents—past, present and future. Pesticide outlook—August 2001

  21. Schreck CE, McGovern TP (1989) Repellents and other personal protection strategies against Aedes albopictus. J Am Mosq Control Assoc 5:247–252

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Takikawa H, Yamazaki Y, Mori K (1998) Synthesis and absolute configuration of rotundial, a mosquito repellent from the leaves of Vitex rotundiforia. Eur J Org Chem 229–232

  23. Tawatsin A, Wratten SD, Scott RR, Thavara U, Techadamrongsin Y (2001) Repellency of volatile oils from plants against three mosquito vectors. J Vector Ecol 26:7–82

    Google Scholar 

  24. Thavara U, Tawatsin A, Chompoosri J, Suwonkerd W, Chansang U, Asavadachanukorn P (2001) Laboratory and field evaluations of the insect repellent 3535 (ethyl-butyl-acetyl-aminopropionate) and DEET against mosquito vectors in Thailand. J Am Mosq Control Assoc 17:190–195

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Ulubelen A, Mericli AH, Mericli F, Kilincer N, Ferizli AG (2001) Insect repellent activity of diterpenoid alkaloids. Phytother Res 15:170–171

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. WHO (1996) Report of the who informal consultation on the evaluation and testing of insecticides CTD/WHOPES/IC/96.1 Geneva: Control of Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization

  27. Yap HH, Jahangir K, Zairi J (2000) Field efficacy of four insect repellent products against vector mosquitoes in a tropical environment. J Am Mosq Control Assoc 16:241–244

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Zhu BCR, Henderson G, Chen F, Fei H, Laine RA (2001) Evaluation of vetiver oil and seven insect-active essential oils against the Formosan subterranean termite. J Chem Ecol 27:1617–1625

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Abdelkrim Amer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Amer, A., Mehlhorn, H. Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes. Parasitol Res 99, 478 (2006).

Download citation


  • Less Significant Difference
  • Mosquito Species
  • Deet
  • Insect Repellent
  • Protection Period