Cinnamon oil shows promise as a great-smelling, environmentally friendly pesticide, with the ability to kill mosquito larvae, according to a new study published in the July 14 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.
The researchers also expect that cinnamon oil could be a good mosquito repellant, though they have not yet tested it against adult mosquitoes.
Besides being a summer nuisance, mosquitoes pose some major public health problems, carrying such deadly agents as malaria, yellow fever and West Nile virus. While conventional pesticide application is often effective in controlling mosquito larvae before they hatch, repeated use of these agents has raised serious environmental and health concerns.
"These problems have highlighted the need for new strategies for mosquito larval control," says Peter Shang-Tzen Chang, a professor in the School of Forestry and Resource Conservation at National Taiwan University and lead author of the paper. Scientists are increasingly turning to more benign natural chemicals to ward off mosquitoes and other pests.
Chang and his coworkers tested eleven compounds in cinnamon leaf oil for their ability to kill emerging larvae of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. "Four compounds cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol and anethole exhibited the strongest activity against A. aegypti in 24 hours of testing," Chang says.