Chemosensory Responses to the Repellent Nepeta Essential Oil and Its Major Component Nepetalactone by Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae), a Vector of Zika Virus.J Med Entomol. 2017 07 01; 54(4):957-963.JM
Nepeta essential oil (Neo; catnip) and its major component, nepetalactone, have long been known to repel insects including mosquitoes. However, the neural mechanisms through which these repellents are detected by mosquitoes, including the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.), an important vector of Zika virus, were poorly understood. Here we show that Neo volatiles activate olfactory receptor neurons within the basiconic sensilla on the maxillary palps of female Ae. aegypti. A gustatory receptor neuron sensitive to the feeding deterrent quinine and housed within sensilla on the labella of females was activated by both Neo and nepetalactone. Activity of a second gustatory receptor neuron sensitive to the feeding stimulant sucrose was suppressed by both repellents. Our results provide neural pathways for the reported spatial repellency and feeding deterrence of these repellents. A better understanding of the neural input through which female mosquitoes make decisions to feed will facilitate design of new repellents and management strategies involving their use.