Insecticidal and Repellent Properties of Rapid-Acting Fluorine-Containing Compounds against Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes

Xiaolong Zhu, Wilson Valbon, Mengdi Qiu, Chunhua T. Hu, Jingxiang Yang, Bryan Erriah, Milena Jankowska, Ke Dong, Michael D. Ward, Bart Kahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of safe and potent insecticides remains an integral part of a multifaceted strategy to effectively control human-disease-transmitting insect vectors. Incorporating fluorine can dramatically alter the physiochemical properties and bioavailability of insecticides. For example, 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(4-fluorophenyl)ethane (DFDT)─a difluoro congener of trichloro-2,2-bis(4-chlorophenyl)ethane (DDT)─was demonstrated previously to be 10-fold less toxic to mosquitoes than DDT in terms of LD50 values, but it exhibited a 4-fold faster knockdown. Described herein is the discovery of fluorine-containing 1-aryl-2,2,2-trichloro-ethan-1-ols (FTEs, for fluorophenyl-trichloromethyl-ethanols). FTEs, particularly per-fluorophenyl-trichloromethyl-ethanol (PFTE), exhibited rapid knockdown not only against Drosophila melanogaster but also against susceptible and resistant Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, major vectors of Dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and Chikungunya viruses. The R enantiomer of any chiral FTE, synthesized enantioselectively, exhibited faster knockdown than its corresponding S enantiomer. PFTE does not prolong the opening of mosquito sodium channels that are characteristic of the action of DDT and pyrethroid insecticides. In addition, pyrethroid/DDT-resistant Ae. aegypti strains having enhanced P450-mediated detoxification and/or carrying sodium channel mutations that confer knockdown resistance were not cross-resistant to PFTE. These results indicate a mechanism of PFTE insecticidal action distinct from that of pyrethroids or DDT. Furthermore, PFTE elicited spatial repellency at concentrations as low as 10 ppm in a hand-in-cage assay. PFTE and MFTE were found to possess low mammalian toxicity. These results suggest the substantial potential of FTEs as a new class of compounds for controlling insect vectors, including pyrethroid/DDT-resistant mosquitoes. Further investigations of FTE insecticidal and repellency mechanisms could provide important insights into how incorporation of fluorine influences the rapid lethality and mosquito sensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1396-1407
Number of pages12
JournalACS Infectious Diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 14 2023


  • Aedes aegypti
  • contact insecticide
  • fluorine
  • mosquito sensing
  • rapid knockdown
  • repellency
  • stereoselectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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