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J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2009 Jun;25(2):156-67.

Characterization of spatial repellent, contact irritant, and toxicant chemical actions of standard vector control compounds.

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  • 1Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814-4799, USA.


A previously described modular high-throughput screening system was used to characterize the spatial repellent, contact irritant, and toxicant chemical actions of 14 compounds historically used or under investigation for vector control. The response of F1-F4 Aedes aegypti (Thailand strain) to various concentrations of 4 organochlorines (chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, methoxychlor); 4 pyrethroids (alphacypermethrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, permethrin); 3 organophosphates (chlorpyrophos methyl, fenitrothion, malathion); 2 carbamates (bendiocarb, propoxur); and 1 pyrazole (chlorfenapyr) were evaluated. Results show chemicals exert different combinations of contact irritant, spatial repellent, and toxic actions. This is true even within the same chemical class. These actions can be ordered for each chemical based on the testing dose at which the specific response is elicited. Data also indicate that behavioral responses to spatial repellent and contact irritant actions are separate (or independent) from the toxic action of a compound. Results from pyrethroid and DDT assays also show chemicals can induce behavior-modifying actions, such as contact irritancy and spatial repellency, which will reduce man-vector contact, despite evidence of insecticide resistance within the test population. These findings support previous laboratory and field studies showing man-vector contact and disease transmission are routinely interrupted by spatial repellent and contact irritant actions of common public health insecticides. Studies similar to that presented here can be used as baseline evidence for expected vector responses and support best approaches for more detailed behavioral research.

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