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This article is part of the supplement: Natural products for the control of malaria

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Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Marta Ferreira Maia12 and Sarah J Moore12*

Author Affiliations

1 Disease Control Department, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

2 Biomedical and Environmental Thematic Group, Ifakara Health Institute, Ifakara, Morogoro, Tanzania

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Malaria Journal 2011, 10(Suppl 1):S11  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-S1-S11

Published: 15 March 2011


Plant-based repellents have been used for generations in traditional practice as a personal protection measure against host-seeking mosquitoes. Knowledge on traditional repellent plants obtained through ethnobotanical studies is a valuable resource for the development of new natural products. Recently, commercial repellent products containing plant-based ingredients have gained increasing popularity among consumers, as these are commonly perceived as “safe” in comparison to long-established synthetic repellents although this is sometimes a misconception. To date insufficient studies have followed standard WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme guidelines for repellent testing. There is a need for further standardized studies in order to better evaluate repellent compounds and develop new products that offer high repellency as well as good consumer safety. This paper presents a summary of recent information on testing, efficacy and safety of plant-based repellents as well as promising new developments in the field.