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Pestic Biochem Physiol. 2019 Jun;157:88-98. doi: 10.1016/j.pestbp.2019.03.007. Epub 2019 Mar 14.

Vapor delivery of plant essential oils alters pyrethroid efficacy and detoxification enzyme activity in mosquitoes.

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Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA.


The use of synthetic insecticides to limit the spread of mosquito-borne disease faces a number of significant challenges, including insecticide resistance, concerns related to the environmental impact of widespread insecticide use, as well as slowed development of new insecticide chemistries. One important alternative to broadcast insecticides is the use of personal protection strategies to limit contact with vector species, including the use of spatial repellents that can employ synthetic pyrethroids or botanical products to effect control. A currently underexplored area of research involves the investigation of botanical products for their potential to serve as insecticide synergists when delivered as a vapor. This study describes the development of an assay that facilitates the screening of essential oils delivered as a vapor for enhancement of deltamethrin efficacy in both pyrethroid-susceptible and -resistant strains of the vector mosquito species Aedes aegypti. Deltamethrin efficacy was significantly increased following exposure to cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia), tagetes (Tagetes bipinnata), and sage (Salvia officinalis) oils, while efficacy was significantly decreased following exposure to amyris (Amyris balsamifera) oil. These effects appeared to be mediated by changes in cytochrome P450 activity. This work demonstrates that some plant-derived essential oils delivered as a vapor are capable of increasing the efficacy of deltamethrin similar to classical synergists such as piperonyl butoxide, supporting the use of a real world delivery method instead of traditional contact exposure studies.


Aedes aegypti; Mosquito; Plant essential oils; Synergism; Vapor

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