Journal Article

Uninvited guests: Traditional insect repellents in Estonia used against the clothes moth <i>Tineola bisselliella</i>, human flea <i>Pulex irritans</i> and bedbug <i>Cimex lectularius</i>

Renata SõUkand, Raivo Kalle and Ingvar Svanberg

in Journal of Insect Science

Volume 10, issue 1
Published online September 2010 | e-ISSN: 1536-2442 | DOI:

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Extensive folklore records from pre-modern Estonia give us an excellent opportunity to study a variety of local plant knowledge and plant use among the peasantry in various parts of the country. One important biocultural domain where plant knowledge has been crucial was in the various methods of combating different ectoparasites that cohabited and coexisted with humans and their domestic animals. Some of these methods were widely known (world-wide, Eurasia, Europe, Baltic Rim), while others were more local. Here we discuss ways of reducing clothes moths Tineola bisselliella (Hummel) (Lepidoptera: Tineidae), human fleas Pulex irritans L. (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) and bedbugs Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) with the help of plants. Various taxa used as traditional repellents have been identified. The use of plants as repellents and their toxic principles are also discussed from a comparative perspective.

Keywords: human-insect relations; ectoparasites; repellents; herbal landscape; biocultural domains; local knowledge; ethnobiology

Journal Article.  6783 words.  Illustrated.

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