Catnip essential oil as a barrier to subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in the laboratory

  • Authors: Peterson, C.J.; Ems-Wilson, J.
  • Publication Year: 2003
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: J. Econ. Entomol., Vol. 96(4): 1275-1282


The essential oil of catnip, Nepeta cataria (Lamiacae) was evaluated for behavioral effects on two populations of subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) and R. virginicus (Banks) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). The catnip essential oil contained =36: 64 E,Z-nepetalactone and Z,E-nepetalactone, respectively. The time to 50% dissipation (DT50) of the isomers in sand was dependent on dose, and ranged from 5.7 to 12.6 d for the E,Z-isomer and 7.7-18.6d for the Z,E-isomer for R. flavipes, the 24-h topical LD50 value was =8200 mg/g termite. The 24-h fumigation LC50 value for R. Flavipes was between 36 and 73 mg/ml air, and the 7-d fumigation LC50 value was between 14 and 36 mg/ml air. Exposure of R. virginicus to treated sand resulted in 24-h LC50 value 95% F.L.) of 84 (67.6, 112) mg/cm2 and 7-d LC50 value of 21.1 (16.4, 26.8) mg/cm2; for R. flapies these values were 63.2 (53.7, 73.9) and 44.4 (34.6, 58.1) mg/cm2, respectively. Vertical tunneling through treated sand was eliminated at 500 ppm for R. virginicus at 250 ppm for R. flavipes. Horizontal tunneling was stopped at 250 ppm for R. virginicus and reduced at doses above 250 ppm for R. flavipes. Although tunneling ceased in these tests, mortality was not high, indicating that the termites avoided the treated sand. Efficacy of catnip oil was equivalent to other monoterpenoids reported in literature.

  • Citation: Peterson, C.J.; Ems-Wilson, J. 2003. Catnip essential oil as a barrier to subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in the laboratory. J. Econ. Entomol., Vol. 96(4): 1275-1282
  • Keywords: nepetalactone, catnip, termite, soil barrier, Reticulitermes
  • Posted Date: June 26, 2007
  • Modified Date: June 26, 2007
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