The control of body lice is an important issue for human health and welfare because lice act as vectors of disease such as typhus, relapsing fever, and trench fever. Body lice exhibit avoidance behavior to some essential oils, including clove essential oil. Therefore, odorants containing clove essential oil components may potentially be useful in the development of repellents to body lice. However, such odorants that induce avoidance behavior in body lice have not yet been identified from clove essential oil. Here, we established an analysis method to evaluate the avoidance behavior of body lice to specific odorants. The behavioral analysis of the body lice in response to clove essential oil and its constituents revealed that eugenol, a major component of clove essential oil, has strong repellent effect on body lice, whereas the other components failed to induce obvious avoidance behavior. A comparison of the repellent effects of eugenol with those of other structurally related odorants revealed possible moieties that are important for the avoidance effects to body lice. The repellent effect of eugenol to body lice was enhanced by combining it with the other major component of clove essential oil, β-caryophyllene. We conclude that a synthetic blend of eugenol and β-caryophyllene is the most effective repellent to body lice. This finding will be valuable as the potential use of eugenol as body lice repellent.
Keywords: Behavior analysis; Body lice; Eugenol; Synergistic effect.