Sustainable manufacture of insect repellents derived from Nepeta cataria

Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 2;8(1):2235. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18141-z.


Malaria devastates sub-Saharan Africa; the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 212 million people contract malaria annually and that the plasmodium virus will kill 419 000 in 2017. The disease affects rural populations who have the least economic means to fight it. Impregnated mosquito nets have reduced the mortality rate but the Anopheles mosquitoes are changing their feeding patterns and have become more active at dusk and early morning rather than after 22h00 as an adaptation to the nets. Everyone is susceptible to the Anopheles at these times but infants and pregnant women are the most vulnerable to the disease. Plant-based mosquito repellents are as effective as synthetic repellents that protect people from bites. They are sustainable preventative measures against malaria not only because of their efficacy but because the local population can produce and distribute them, which represents a source of economic growth for rural areas. Here, we extract and test the essential oil nepetalactone from Nepeta cataria via steam distillation. Families in endemic areas of Burundi found them effective against bites but commented that the odor was pungent. An epidemiological study is required to establish its clinical efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / drug effects*
  • Anopheles / parasitology
  • Burundi
  • Insect Repellents / chemistry*
  • Insect Repellents / pharmacology*
  • Insect Vectors / drug effects
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology
  • Malaria / prevention & control*
  • Malaria / transmission
  • Nepeta / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*


  • Insect Repellents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils