Mosquito repellents in frog skin

C. R. Williams, B. P.C. Smith, S. M. Best, M. J. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The search for novel insect repellents has been driven by health concerns over established synthetic compounds such as diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET). Given the diversity of compounds known from frog skin and records of mosquito bite and ectoparasite infestation, the presence of mosquito repellents in frogs seemed plausible. We investigated frog skin secretions to confirm the existence of mosquito repellent properties. Litoria caerulea secretions were assessed for mosquito repellency by topical application on mice. The secretions provided protection against host-seeking Culex annulirostris mosquitoes. Olfactometer tests using aqueous washes of skin secretions from L. caerulea and four other frog species were conducted to determine whether volatile components were responsible for repellency. Volatiles from Litoria rubella and Uperoleia mjobergi secretions were repellent to C. annulirostris, albeit not as repellent as a DEET control. The demonstration of endogenous insect repellents in amphibians is novel, and demonstrates that many aspects of frog chemical ecology remain unexplored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-245
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 22 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Frogs
  • Litoria caerulea
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Olfactometer
  • Skin secretions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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