Natural Terpenoid repellents with activity against mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, ticks, and bed bugs


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. We have demonstrated that many of these plant-derived compounds cause significant repellency against mosquitoes and various other arthropod pest species, some of which rival n,n-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), the commercial standard for repellency. It is our goal to continue isolation of novel repellent compounds from plants to potentially create stronger repellents and to gain insight into how these repellent compounds act on various insect olfactory receptors.

Photograph of clear glass tubes used for testing natural terpenoid repellencyPhotograph of irritancy and spatial repellency chambers used for testing natural terpenoid repellency

Some relevant publications:

Paluch, G.E. and J.R. Coats, Editors. 2011. Recent Developments in Invertebrate Repellents. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC. 186 pp.  DOI: 10.1021/bk-2011-1090     

Paluch, G.E., L.C. Bartholomay, and J.R. Coats.  2010. Mosquito repellents: a review of chemical structure diversity and olfaction. Pest Manag. Sci. 66: 925-935.

Peterson, Christopher J., and Coats, Joel R. 2011. Catnip essential oil and its nepetalactone isomers as repellents for mosquitoes, Chapter 4 in Recent Developments in Invertebrate Repellents, Paluch, Gretchen E. and Coats, Joel R., American Chemical Society Books, Washington, DC. pp 59-65.

Paluch, Gretchen E., Junwei Zhu, Lyric C. Bartholomay, and Joel R. Coats. 2009. Amyris and Siam-wood essential oils: Insect activity of sesquiterpenes, in Pesticides in Household, Structural and Residential Pest Management, C.J. Peterson, and D.M. Stout II, eds., ACS Books, Washington, DC. pp 5-18.

Schultz, G., C. Peterson, and J.R. Coats. 2006. Natural insect repellents: Activity against mosquitoes and cockroaches. Chapter 13 in Natural Products for Pest Management, A.M. Rimando & S.O. Duke, eds.  American Chemical Society, Washington D.C. pp. 168-181.