Honeysuckle Scent Controls Mosquitoes

January 2, 2020

The mosquito Aedes aegypti can spread several diseases as it travels from person to person. Only the females feed on blood. This mosquito is just starting to feed on a person’s arm.

The delicate scent of honeysuckle also packs a powerful punch when it comes to knocking out the larvae of mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti, the species that spreads yellow fever.

USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists have found that essential oils – especially patchouli alcohol – in Italian honeysuckle killed 100 percent of the larvae, which hatch from eggs deposited in sources of water by adult female mosquitoes after they have taken a blood meal.

Entomologist Ephantus Muturi and his colleagues at ARS’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, aim to provide consumers and public health officials with a greater arsenal of weapons to choose from in preventing the diseases that mosquitoes can spread.

These maladies include yellow fever, Zika, dengue fever, and malaria – the last of which is linked to 219 million reported cases and 435,000 deaths worldwide in 2017.

The group plans to scale up studies of honeysuckle essential oil and its chemical constituents, along with compounds from other plants. Team members are also examining microorganisms such as fungi that infect and kill different mosquito life stages.

Some of the oil’s chemical components can be purchased commercially and are included in perfumes and cosmetics.

(Photo courtesy of Stephen Ausmus, USDA/ARS)