Determining the Effect of Potential Household Repellents on Ant Behavior

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Introduction: The purpose of this project is to determine the effect of household substances, which contain naturally occurring ant-repelling chemicals, on ant behavior. While there are many plants that chemically repel ants, this project will test if there are any household products, which contain some of the same naturally occurring repellents, which ants will avoid. This paper will first identify what plants repel ants. The herbs and plants that best repel ants are tansy, catnip, pennyroyal, peppermint, sage, coffee, and spearmint. All of these but catnip have some of medicinal use. Catnip and pennyroyal are both in the mint family. It is already known what makes catnip a repellent- nepetalactone, a chemical that simulates pheromones. It is repulsive to insects, but attractive to cats. Tansy is also a repellent, and was used to repel insects as early as the 19th century. However, this is for a different reason- tansy contains a volatile oil that becomes toxic when broken down. However, the components of this oil, such as 1,8-cineole, thujone, camphor, and myrtenol all have various chemical and pheromonal properties. The herb sage is more useful than tansy, but still contains many of the same chemicals- cineole, camphor, alpha-thujone, and beta-thujone. It is highly possible that these chemicals have some sort of pheromonal effect on ants. On the other hand, there is pennyroyal- repellent to ants because it contains toxic oil, mostly based on a chemical called

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