U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Isolation and Identification of Mosquito (Aedes aegypti) Biting-Deterrent Compounds from the Native American Ethnobotanical Remedy Plant Hierochloë odorata (Sweetgrass)

Cantrell Charles L., Jones A. Maxwell P., Ali Abbas
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2016 v.64 no.44 pp. 8352-8358
Aedes aegypti, Platycephalidae, Poaceae, air, burning, coumarin, ethnobotany, fractionation, insect repellents, spectroscopy, Alberta, Montana
Hierochloë odorata (L.) P. Beauv. (Poaceae), commonly known as sweetgrass, has documented use as an insect repellent by the Flatheads of Montana and Blackfoot of Alberta. Both the Flatheads of Montana and Blackfoot of Alberta would use braided plant material in a sachet in clothing or burn them from one end as incense, air/clothing freshener, and insect repellent. This study evaluated the insect-repellent properties of this plant using an in vitro mosquito Aedes aegypti feeding bioassay-directed approach to identify the compound(s) responsible for the observed activities. Evaluation of crude extracts produced from H. odorata revealed that the hydrodistillate had the highest level of mosquito biting deterrence. Fractionation of this extract, followed by re-evaluation for mosquito biting deterrence, produced many active fractions, which were evaluated by spectroscopic techniques and determined to contain phytol, coumarin, and 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol. Phytol and coumarin were both determined to be responsible for the Ae. aegypti biting deterrency. Scientific evidence reported here validates its traditional use as a biting-insect deterrent.