Repellency of essential oils and their components to the human body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus

Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu*, Rachel Galun, Uri Bach, Jacqueline Miller, Shlomo Magdassi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Five essential oils and nine of their components were compared to diethyl toluamide (DEBT) for their repellent activity against the human body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus. The absolute or intrinsic repellency of the compounds was tested by applying the repellent to corduroy patches and comparing them with untreated patches. It was found that the most effective repellents were DEBT and citronella, whose activity lasted at least 29 days. The activity of rosemary lasted at least 18 days and that of eucalyptus more than 8 days. The repellent activity of the oil components such as citronellal and geraniol lasted more than 15 and 8 days, respectively. DEBT remained effective at a dilution of 1:32, geraniol at 1:8, citronella at 1:4 and rosemary and citronellal at 1:1. The comparative or standard repellency of the candidate repellents was examined with the aid of a new screening technique using hairs treated with ammonium bicarbonate which is attractive to lice. Using this technique it could be shown that the repellent activity of citronella and geraniol lasted 2 days and that of rosemary and citronellal for only one day. DEET was active for less than one day. Serial dilutions of these substances also revealed that citronella was the most potent repellent for lice, followed by citronellal, rosemary, geraniol and DEET. The differences however, were not significant.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)309-314
Number of pages6
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Anoplura
  • DEET
  • Essential oils
  • Human body louse
  • Pediculidae
  • Pediculus humanus humanus
  • Repellent


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