It is well established that insects and plants have shared a long evolutionary history with one another. Due to this evolutionary “arms race,” plants have developed some truly fascinating ways to deter insects from feeding upon them, such as production of various terpenoid compounds that repel or kill insect pests. Our lab is interested in isolating plant-derived compounds that may act as natural repellents.
Since the beginning of the project in April 2012, our lab has screened a wide array of plant essential oils for baseline toxicity and in combination with various synthetic pyrethroids against Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, and Anopheles gambiae, the African malaria mosquito. To date, we have identified essential oil candidates that enhance the toxicity of various synthetic pyrethroids, and some that cause greater enhancement than the most commonly used commercial synergist in synthetic pyrethroid formulations, piperonyl butoxide (PBO).