Essential oils and their compositions as spatial repellents for pestiferous social wasps.
Background: The study objectives were: (1) to field test potential repellency of common essential oils against several pestiferous social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), using attractant-baited traps; (2) to identify vespid antennally active compounds from the repellent essential oils; (3) to determine potential repellency of these electroantennographic detection (EAD) active compounds in the field. Results: Of the 21 essential oils tested, 17 showed significant repellency on yellowjackets [mainly Vespula pensylvanica (Saussure)] and paper wasps [mainly Polistes dominulus (Christ)]: clove, pennyroyal, lemongrass, ylang ylang, spearmint, wintergreen, sage, rosemary, lavender, geranium, patchouli, citronella, Roman chamomile, thyme, fennel seed, anise and peppermint. Two essential oil mixtures - 3EO-mix (clove, geranium and lemongrass) and 4EO-mix (clove, geranium, lemongrass and rosemary) - totally blocked the attraction of vespid workers. Twenty-nine vespid antennally active compounds were identified from solid-phase microextraction (SPME) samples of 11 strongly repellent essential oils by GC-EAD/MS techniques. Among the synthetic EAD-active compounds field tested, eugenol, P/I-menthone, pulegone, α/β-thujone, l-carvone, E/Z-citral, citronellal, methyl benzoate, benzyl acetate, methyl salicylate and 3-octanol showed a significant repellency on vespid workers. These compounds are likely responsible for the repellency of their corresponding essential oils. Conclusion: These repellent essential oils and their active compositions have great potential for efficient, environmentally sound semiochemical-based IPM of pestiferous vespid wasps.