Nepetalactones from essential oil of Nepeta cataria represent a stable fly feeding and oviposition repellent

Med Vet Entomol. 2012 Jun;26(2):131-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2915.2011.00972.x. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


The stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans (L.) (Diptera: Muscidae), is one of the most serious pests to livestock. It feeds mainly on cattle and causes significant economic losses in the cattle industry. Standard stable fly control involving insecticides and sanitation is usually costly and often has limited effectiveness. As we continue to evaluate and develop safer fly control strategies, the present study reports on the effectiveness of catnip (Nepeta cataria L.) oil and its constituent compounds, nepetalactones, as stable fly repellents. The essential oil of catnip reduced the feeding of stable flies by >96% in an in vitro bioassay system, compared with other sesquiterpene-rich plant oils (e.g. amyris and sandalwood). Catnip oil demonstrated strong repellency against stable flies relative to other chemicals for repelling biting insects, including isolongifolenone, 2-methylpiperidinyl-3-cyclohexen-1-carboxamide and (1S,2'S)-2-methylpiperidinyl-3-cyclohexen-1-carboxamide. The repellency against stable flies of the most commonly used mosquito repellent, DEET, was relatively low. In field trials, two formulations of catnip oil provided >95% protection and were effective for up to 6 h when tested on cattle. Catnip oil also acted as a strong oviposition repellent and reduced gravid stable fly oviposition by 98%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cyclohexenes / pharmacology
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclopentanes / chemistry
  • Cyclopentanes / pharmacology*
  • DEET / pharmacology
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Female
  • Insect Repellents / chemistry
  • Insect Repellents / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Muscidae / drug effects*
  • Nepeta / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oviposition / drug effects*
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Pyrones / chemistry
  • Pyrones / pharmacology*
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology


  • Cyclohexenes
  • Cyclopentane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclopentanes
  • Insect Repellents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Piperidines
  • Plant Oils
  • Pyrones
  • SS220
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • isolongifolenone
  • DEET
  • nepetalactone