, Volume 250, Issue 1, pp 59–68 | Cite as

Phytochemical composition and larvicidal activity of essential oils from herbal plants

  • Hsiang-Ting Huang
  • Chien-Chung Lin
  • Tai-Chih Kuo
  • Shiang-Jiuun Chen
  • Rong-Nan HuangEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

The essential oils (EOs) of Plectranthus amboinicus showed the highest larvicidal activity among four herbal plants studied and β-caryophyllene might be the major component responsible for its differential toxicity to the larvae of Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes Aegypti.

Mosquitoes act as vectors for many life-threatening diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus infection. Management of mosquitoes mainly relies on synthetic insecticides, which usually result in the rapid development of resistance; therefore, alternative mosquito control strategies are urgently needed. This study characterized the major component of essential oils (EOs) derived from the vegetative parts of four herbal plants and their larvicidal activity toward important mosquito vectors. The EOs were extracted by hydro-distillation and subjected to gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analysis and a larvicidal activity assay toward Aedes aegypti, Ae. albopictus and Culex quinquefasciatus. In total, 14, 11, 11 and 9 compounds were identified from the EOs of Plectranthus amboinicus, Mentha requienii, Vitex rotundifolia and Crossostephium chinense, respectively. The EOs derived from four herbal plants exhibited remarkable larvicidal activity against the three mosquito species. In particular, the EOs of P. amboinicus showed the highest larvicidal activity, and the larvae of Cx. quinquefasciatus were more sensitive to the P. amboinicus EOs than that of Ae. Aegypti. Although carvacrol (61.53%) was the predominant constituent of the P. amboinicus EOs, its precursors, γ-terpinene (8.51%) and p-cymene (9.42%), exhibited the most larvicidal activity toward Ae. aegypti and Cx. quinquefasciatus. However, β-caryophyllene (12.79%) might be the major component responsible for the differential toxicity of the P. amboinicus EOs, as indicated by the significant differences in its LC50 values toward both mosquitoes. Information from these studies will benefit the incorporation of EOs into integrated vector management.


Vector control Essential oils Larvicide β-Caryophyllene 



We would like to thanks American Journal Experts for helping on the grammar editing of this manuscript. Funding for this research was provided by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST 106-2321-B-002-037), The Executive Yuan, Taiwan, R.O.C. are kindly acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hsiang-Ting Huang
    • 1
  • Chien-Chung Lin
    • 2
  • Tai-Chih Kuo
    • 3
  • Shiang-Jiuun Chen
    • 4
  • Rong-Nan Huang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Entomology and Research Center for Plant Medicine, College of Bioresources and AgricultureNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryTaipei City HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistryTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Life Science, College of Life ScienceNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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