Botanical repellents and pesticides traditionally used against hematophagous invertebrates in Lao Peoples Democratic Republic: a comparative study of plants used in 66 villages.
Hematophagous parasites such as leeches, ticks, mites, lice, bedbugs, mosquitoes, and myiasis-producing fly larvae are common health problems in Lao Peoples Democratic Republic. Several arthropod-borne infections, e.g., malaria, dengue fever, and Japanese encephalitis, are endemic there. Effective vector control methods including the use of pesticides, insecticide-treated bed nets, and synthetic and plant-based repellents are important means of control against such invertebrates and the pathogens they may transmit or directly cause. In this study, we documented traditional knowledge on plants that are used to repel or kill hematophagous arthropods, including mosquitoes, bedbugs, human lice, mites and ticks, fly larvae, and blood-sucking leeches. Structured interviews were carried out in 66 villages comprising 17 ethnic groups, covering a range of cultures, throughout Lao Peoples Democratic Republic. A total of 92 plant species was recorded as traditional repellents (including plants for pesticidal usages) in 123 different plant-ectoparasite combinations. The number and species of plants, and animal taxa repelled (or killed) per plant species differed per region, village, and ethnic group. Traditional use was confirmed in the scientific literature for 74 of these plant species, and for an additional 13 species using literature on closely related species. The use of botanical repellents and pesticides from many plant species is common and widespread in the Lao countryside. In the future, the identification of the active components in certain plants to develop more optimal, inexpensive repellents, insecticides, acaricides, or antileech compounds as alternatives to synthetic repellents/pesticides against blood-feeding insects, ticks, mites, and leeches is warranted.