Phytochemicals have been considered as alternatives for conventional pesticides because of their low mammalian toxicity and environmental safety. They usually display less potent insecticidal effects than synthetic compounds, but may express as yet unknown modes of action. In the current study, we evaluated 14 plant essential oils for their toxicities and synergistic effects with carbaryl and permethrin against fourth instars of Aedes aegypti (L.) as well as 5-7-d-old adults. Six essential oils showed significant synergistic effects with carbaryl at 10–50 mg/liter, but paradoxically all of them decreased the toxicity of permethrin against Ae. aegypti larvae. None showed toxicity or synergistic effects on Ae. aegypti adults, at doses up to 2,000 ng/insect. The six essential oils displaying synergistic effects in Ae. aegypti larvae inhibited the in vitro activities of cytochrome P450 monooxygenases and carboxylesterases in the low milligram per liter range. The data indicated that cytochrome P450 monooxygenases and carboxylesterase were probably targets for these natural synergists. Thus, the mechanism of synergism was most likely inhibition of metabolism and not interacting target site effects.
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Vol. 50 • No. 4