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Annu Rev Entomol. 2012;57:405-24. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-120710-100554. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Essential oils in insect control: low-risk products in a high-stakes world.

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1
UMR CNRS UPPA 5254 IPREM-EEM, Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, F64000 Pau, France. catherine.regnault-roger@univ-pau.fr

Abstract

In recent years, the use of essential oils (EOs) derived from aromatic plants as low-risk insecticides has increased considerably owing to their popularity with organic growers and environmentally conscious consumers. EOs are easily produced by steam distillation of plant material and contain many volatile, low-molecular-weight terpenes and phenolics. The major plant families from which EOs are extracted include Myrtaceae, Lauraceae, Lamiaceae, and Asteraceae. EOs have repellent, insecticidal, and growth-reducing effects on a variety of insects. They have been used effectively to control preharvest and postharvest phytophagous insects and as insect repellents for biting flies and for home and garden insects. The compounds exert their activities on insects through neurotoxic effects involving several mechanisms, notably through GABA, octopamine synapses, and the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. With a few exceptions, their mammalian toxicity is low and environmental persistence is short. Registration has been the main bottleneck in putting new products on the market, but more EOs have been approved for use in the United States than elsewhere owing to reduced-risk processes for these materials.

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