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Tests of Mosquito Repellents

Nature volume 162, page 249 (14 August 1948) | Download Citation



WHEN Australian forces began campaigning during the Second World War in the highly malarious islands of the south-west Pacific area, a very urgent need was an effective mosquito repellent. Bulletin No. 213 (1947) of the Commonwealth of Australia Council for Scientific and Industrial Research describes laboratory and field tests conducted by Major R. N. McCullough and Capt. D. F. Waterhouse with this object in view. More than 125 substances Were tested for use as repellents against both anopheline and culicine mosquitoes. The chief species used in these experiments Were Anopheles punctulatus farauti, the yellow-fever mosquito Aedes œgypti, and the common pest mosquito Aedes vigilax. The Work involved was a co-operative investigation between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Army. Taking all factors into account, dimethyl phthalate was by far the most satisfactory repellent tested. Also, it is almost completely odourless and has very-little or no irritant effect on the skin of the hands and face, to which it is applied. A number of other synthetic and naturally occurring substances were tested with indifferent results. Many essential oils Were quite ineffective, while the two most promising Were too irritant to use. Pyrethrum preparations gave consistently poor results. The treatment of clothing with dimethyl phthalate prevented mosquitoes from attacking through the material, except to a very limited degree, up to 72 hours after application. As a result of these investigations of repellents, and of those on a larger scale in the United States, the manufacture of adequate quantities of dimethyl phthalate was organised and the substance made available to the Australian fighting forces in 1943, some special forces being supplied with it as early as March 1943.

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