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Arch Insect Biochem Physiol. 2003 Dec;54(4):212-25.

Botanical insecticides for controlling agricultural pests: piperamides and the Colorado Potato Beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata say (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae).

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Biology Department, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


The efficacy of extracts from two Piperaceae species, Piper nigrum L. and P. tuberculatum Jacq. were evaluated using larvae and adults of the Colorado Potato Beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say). Young larvae and neonates were the most susceptible; a 24-h LD(50) of 0.064% extract of P. tuberculatum was determined for 4-day-old larvae, while 0.05% extract of P. nigrum reduced larval survival up to 70% within one week after treatment of potato Solanum tuberosum L. (Solanaceae) plants. When an insecticide resistant strain of L. decemlineata larvae was tested with the P. tuberculatum extract, there was less than a 2-fold tolerance ratio compared to the 22-fold tolerance ratio to cypermethrin, a pyrethroid. Older larvae, pre-pupal stage and adults, were less sensitive to the P. nigrum extracts; the 24-h LD(50) was 0.5% (95% C.I. = 0.36, 0.65). However, the same concentration was equally effective under field conditions. In the greenhouse, P. nigrum at 0.5% was as effective at reducing adult L. decemlineata feeding as combinations with 2 separate botanical mixtures, garlic and lemon grass oil. Under field conditions, the residual activity of the P. nigrum extracts was less than 3 h. When adult L. decemlineata were placed on treated plants exposed to full sunlight for 0, 1.5, and 3 h, leaf damage progressively increased as the main active compound, piperine, was found to degrade by 80% after 3 h. An in vitro polysubstrate monoxygenase (PSMO) enzyme assay, using the substrate methoxyresorufin O-demethylation (MROD), determined that the principal P. nigrum active compound, piperine, is responsible for inhibition of that specific enzyme. The results suggest that Piper extracts could be used effectively as contact botanical insect control agents to protect potato plants from developing L. decemlineata larvae at concentrations less than 0.1%. There is also potential for Piper extracts to control insecticide resistant populations in conjunction with other integrated pest management (IPM) strategies used in conventional and organic agriculture.

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