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Botanic Plant Resources as Insect Pests Administrator of Field Crops

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*Corresponding author:  
Muhammad Sarwar 
Botanical material 
Field plant 
Pest control 
Owing to growing public awareness and concern about the adverse effects of pesticides have necessitated the need to look for eco-friendly, safer, and effective organic methods of pest control. The best solution for this is to follow indigenous traditional ways of pest control by using plants, which have been prevalent all over the world. But with the advent and use of modern synthetic pesticides, these botanicals more or less vanished. The successful utilization of botanicals can help to control many of the world’s destructive insect pests of crops. The botanical pesticides could be divided into the 1st  generation including nicotine, rotenone, sabadilla, ryania, pyrethrum, and plant essential oils; while the 2nd generation comprises synthetic pyrethroids and azadirachtin, as well as potential new botanicals. Botanical pesticides may affect insect nerves, while others may affect the molting process. Different botanical formulations have been reported from time to time showing pronounced insecticidal activity, repellence to pests, oviposition deterrence,  adult emergence inhibition, ovicidal, larvicidal, pupaecidal activity, and feeding deterrence based on their contact toxicity and fumigation effects.  Thus, managing of crop pests using plant secondary metabolites can be more easily integrated into agro-ecologically sustainable crop production systems.


Nowadays, insect tormenter management must go about the economic and ecological consequences of the employment of aggressor management measures.  Sustained struggles against harmful insects for exploitation of artificial and oil-derivative molecules have created perverse secondary effects (mammalian toxicity,  insect resistance, and ecological hazards). The diversification of the approaches inherent in Integrated  Pest Management (IPM) is critical for higher environmental protection (Sarwar, 2013a; 2019a; Sarwar et al., 2021). 

Biological control has less practical application because of  its dependence on environmental conditions (Sarwar,  2014; Sarwar and Salman, 2016). Hence, biochemical  control is the most effective controlling measure in large scale crop protection (Sarwar et al. 2005; Ahmad et al.  2011) resulting in being friendly to pollinators (Sarwar,  2020). 

Among the choice ways, the utilization of plants, and  insecticidal allele chemicals seems to be promising.  Aromatic plants and their essential oils, are among the  foremost economical botanicals. Their activities are  manifold and they induce chemical and topical toxicity  similarly as antifeedant or repellent effects.

They are harmful to adults, however, conjointly inhibit replica.  Although mechanisms depend upon phytochemical patterns and do not seem to be acknowledged, this widespread variety of activities is a lot and more being thought of for each industrial and household uses,  whereas essential oils are presently thought to be a  brand-new category of ecological merchandise for controlling of insect pests (Sallam et al., 2009; Sarwar and  Salman, 2015a). 

Green pesticides, also called ecological pesticides, are pesticides derived from organic sources, which are considered environmentally friendly. Of the present concept of green pesticides, some rational attempts have been made to include substances such as plant extracts,  hormones, pheromones, and toxins from the organic origin and also to encompass many aspects of pest control (Sarwar, 2015a; 2016a). More than 2500 plant species belonging to 235 families have been found to possess the characteristic properties required for an ideal botanical insecticide. Natural crop protectants or products are used as powder formulations or liquid or oil formulations (Karunamoorthi, 2012). 

2. Botanicals Used to Control Different Insect Pests 

The results of pesticidal and phytochemical screenings of  a number of higher plants based on traditional knowledge  have strongly indicated that plants are endowed with  pesticidal properties that can be harnessed cheaply for  use in agriculture and related fields (Sarwar, 2015b). 

A field experiment has been conducted to test a synthetic  insecticide and insecticidal properties of four selected  plant origin materials against Helicoverpa species on  chickpea crop. After treatment, counts for larval  mortality and percentage of pods infestation showed that  over all least pods infestation percentage and higher seed  yield in treated crops have been significantly different  than the untreated plants. However, as it is evident from  the data the synthetic product gave the best results than  all the sets of natural products for the parameters studied  (Rajput et al., 2003). 

Studies on the effect of pyrethroid (ripcord 0.5%) and  different concentrations of neem (Azadirachta indica)  seed extract on parasitoid Trichogramma chilonis (Ishii)  (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) are conducted.  Among different concentrations of neem seed extract  (4,2,1,0.5 and 0.25%), the highest mortality (68.29%) of  Trichogramma has been recorded with 4% neem seed  extract and the lowest (35.83%) with 0.25% neem seed  extract. Overall, the highest mortality (97.52%) of  Trichogramma has been recorded with ripcard. It can be  concluded that neem seed extract of less than 4 %  concentration can be included in IPM to protect T.  chilonis as biological control agent (Khan, 2011). 

It has been contemplated to evaluate the efficiency of the  botanical pesticide A. indica and its comparison with  synthetic chemicals against gram pod borer Helicoverpa  armigera (Hubner) (Fig. 1) on chickpea crop. Interestingly,  the beneficial effects of all tested insecticides have been  noted on plant stand. Results from the present  investigations displayed that although both the botanical  and synthetic insecticides contributed in reducing the  pest population, yet the synthetic chemicals are still the  first line of defense against the ravages of insects and can  be used freely when any insect outbreak occurs (Sarwar,  2012). 

Of particular economic significance among the plants is  Rhododendron mole G. Don. The finely ground powder  when applied as spray in suspension or as dust has been highly active against aphids, pentatomids and leaf beetles as well as against caterpillars (Okwute, 2012). The study has reported the insecticidal property of botanicals and their potential as organic pest control agents for field management of aphid Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Homoptera Aphididae) on canola Brassica napus  L. (Brassicaceae).

The effectiveness of four botanical pest control agents such as, tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.),  garlic (Allium sativum L.), goosefoot (Chenopodium album L.), and Aloe vera L., has been assessed through foliar applications on canola (B. napus) crop. The A. vera  (Aloeaceae) and to a greater extent N. tabacum at 10 %  concentration have been the most effective botanicals and rated parallel for effectiveness in the treated crop,  and resulted in the least aphid’s damage and enhanced yield across all the seasons followed by C. album and A.  sativum relative to the untreated control (Sarwar,  2013b). 

Fig. 1. Gram pod borer 

The genus Piper (family Piperaceae) is probably one of  the most studied botanicals. With over 1000 species,  about 112 genera have been screened for pesticidal activity and over 611 active compounds isolated and  identified from various parts of the species. Perhaps, of  great significance are extractives from Piper guineense,  Piper longum and Piper retrofractum, which are known to  be active against the garden insects. In these  experiments, piperine has shown to be a synergist rather  than an insecticide in crude extracts (Okwute, 1992). 

The research has assessed the potential trade-offs of  using pesticidal plant extracts on legume crop yields and  the regulating ecosystem services of natural pests  enemies. The application of six established pesticidal  plants (Bidens pilosa, Lantana camara, Lippiaja vanicaTephrosia vogelii, Tithonia diversifolia and Vernonia amygdalina) have been compared to positive and negative controls for their impact on yields of bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) crops, and the abundance of  key indicator pest and predatory arthropod species.  Analysis of field trials showed that pesticidal plant treatments often resulted in crop yields that have been  comparable to the use of a synthetic pesticide (lambda cyhalothrin).

The best-performing plant species have  been T. vogelii, T. diversifolia, and L. javanica. The abundance of pests has been very low when using the synthetic pesticide, whilst the plant extracts generally have a higher number of pests than the synthetic but lower numbers than observed on the negative controls.  Beneficial arthropod numbers have been low with synthetically treated crops, whereas the pesticidal plant treatments appeared to have little effect on beneficials when compared to the negative controls (Tembo et al.  2018).

The outcomes of this research suggest that using  extracts of pesticidal plants to control pests can be as  effective as synthetic insecticides in terms of crop yields  while tri-trophic effects have reduced, conserving the  non-target arthropods that provide important ecosystem services such as pollination and pest regulation. 

An outline of different botanical pesticides and their effects on various insect pests has appeared in Table 1. 

Table 1. Native botanical sprays used to control insect pests in crops 

Botanical Target pests
Neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf extract Defoliators and sucking pests
Garlic (Allium sativum) extract Spodoptera litura (leaf-eating caterpillar), Helicoverpa armigera (fruit borer),  and other lepidopteran pests
Garlic-Chilli (Capsicum annum) extract Helicoverpa armigera (fruit borer), Spodoptera litura (leaf-eating caterpillar),  Leucinodes arbonalis (Brinjal fruit & shoot borer), Amsacta albistriga (red headed hairy caterpillar)
Datura (Datura stramonium) plant extract Tea mosquito bugs, thrips, jassids, aphids
Calotropis (Calotropis gigantean) leaf extract Termites
Lantana (Lantana camera) leaf powder Aphids
Lantana leaf extract Beetles, leaf miners, defoliators
Mixed leaves extract Defoliators like Spodoptera litura, semi loopers
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globules) leaf extract Jassids, aphids, scales
Adathoda (Adathoda vesica) leaf extract Defoliators and sucking pests
Multiple plants leaf extract Major pests and diseases
Nicotine (Nicotiana tabacum) Aphids, thrips, caterpillars, mites, bugs, fungus gnat, leafhoppers
Rotenone (Lonchocarpus spp., Derris  eliptica)Bugs, aphids, potato beetles, spider mites, carpenter ants, bean leaf beetle,  cucumber beetles, leafhopper, red spider mite
Ryania (Ryania speciosa) Codling moths, potato aphids, onion thrips, corn earworms, silkworms,  caterpillars, thrips, beetles, bugs, aphids
Sabadilla (Shoenocaulon officinaleGrasshoppers, codling moths, armyworms, aphids, cabbage loopers, squash  bugs, bugs, blister beetlesflies, caterpillars,potato leafhopper
Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum  cinerariaefolium)Crawling and flying insects such as cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes, termites,  caterpillars, aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, bugs, cabbage worms, beetles
Essential oils Caterpillars, cabbage worms, aphids, white flies, land snails
Neem products Armyworms, cutworms, stemborers, bollworms, leaf miners, caterpillars,  aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, psyllids, scales, mites and thrips
Citrus trees (d-Limonene, Linalool)Fleas, aphids, mites, paper wasps, house crickets, dips for pets
Baobab chacal (Adenium obesumCotton pests, particularly the larvae of bollworms Heliothis sp.)
Synthetic pyrethroids Caterpillars, aphids, thrips

3. Botanicals and their parts used 

Plant parts selected for botanicals show variations in their activities as shown in the study of Kabir and Muhammad  (2010). When cowpea seeds are treated with powders of  different parts of A. indica (leaf and stem bark powders)  and the seed oil, the order of activity against  

Callosobruchus maculatusis was found to be seed oil > leaf powder > stem bark powder. The study also proved that the insecticidal compound azadirachtin is found in fruits,  bark, and leaves of the tree, but seeds have the highest concentration. Sometimes, the dust is made from the seeds and the active components are lacking in the other plant parts (roots, bulbs, stems, and leaves).

It is interesting that the toxic constituents actually become more powerful after storage, for instance, in the case of sabadilla, also known as cevadilla, derived from the seeds of the sabadilla lily (Schoenocaulon officinale). The various plant parts like leaf, bark, seed powder, clove,  fruit, flower, rhizome, or oil extracts are used as an admixture to control insect pests as given in Table 2. The variations in the chemical composition of botanicals due to season, location, or plant part also affect their pesticidal activity (Burt, 2004). Hence, it is strongly recommended to standardize the plant products before their application and commercialization. 

Table 2. List of plants and their parts used for evaluation of pesticide activities 

Common name Scientific name Family Part use
Fingerroot Boesenbergia pandurate Schltr. Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Belamcanda chinensis Kaempferia parviflora Wall. Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Peacock ginger, resurrection lily Kaempferia pulchra (Ridl.) Ridl Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Smith. Wild ginger, Martinique ginger Zingiberzer umbet (L.) Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Ginger Zingiber officinale Roscoe. Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Phlai, cassumunar Zingiber montanum (Koenig) Link Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Kha, galingale, galangal Alpinia galangal (L.) Swartz. Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Turmeric Curcuma longa L. Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Curcuma Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb. Zingiberaceae Rhizome
Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus Stapf. Gramineae Leaf
Leech lime Citrus hystrix DC. Rutaceae Leaf
Ho-ra-pa, sweet-basil, basil Ocimum basilicum Linn. Labiatae Leaf
Hairy basil Ocimum canum Linn. Labiatae Leaf
Holy basil, sacred basil Ocimum sanctum Linn. Malvaceae Leaf
Horseradish tree Moringa oleifera Lam. Moringaceae Leaf
Sugar apple Annona squamosal Linn. Annonaceae Leaf
Guava Psidium guajava Linn. Myrtaceae Leaf
Red river gum, Murray red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh. Myrtaceae Leaf
Jackfruit tree Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. Moraceae Leaf
Cha-plu Piper sarmentosum Roxb. Piperaceae Leaf
Orange jessamine, satin-wood Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack. Rutaceae Leaf
Kitchen mint, marsh mint Melissa officinalis L. Lamiaceae Leaf
Kassod tree, siamesesenna Cassia siamea (Lam.) Fabaceae Leaf
Neem Azadirachta indica A. Juss. Meliaceae Leaf, fruit
Garlic Allium sativum L. Lilliacea Clove
Chilli Capsicum annum L. Solanaceae Fruit
Datura Datura stramonium L. Solanaceae Leaf, fruit
Calotropis Calotropis gigantea (L.) R. Br. Ex Apocynaceae Leaf, flower
Lantana Lantana camera L. Verbenaceae Leaf, flower
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus Lab. Myrtaceae Leaf
Nerium Nerium oleander L. Apocynaceae Leaf
Althea Althaea officinalis L. Malvaceae Leaf, root
Visnaga Ammi visnaga L. Apiaceae Fruit
Peppermint Mentha pipermita L. Labiatae Leaf, flower
Spearmint Mentha spicata L. Lamiaceae Leaf, flower
Acacia Acacia arabica Lam. Fabaceae Flower, fruit
Capsicum Capsicum frutescens L. Solanaceae Fruit
Castor bean Ricinus communis L. Euphorbiaceae Fruit
Thymue Thymus vulgaris L. Lamiacae Leaf
Marjoram Majora nahortenis L. Lamiacae Leaf
Chamomile Matricaria chamomile L. Asteraceae Flower
Pelargonium Pelargonium graveolens Her. Geraniaceae Herbs
Pomegranate Punica grataum L. Punicaceae Pomegranate peel

4. Resources of Botanical Pesticides and Their Mode  of Action 

At present, there are four major types of botanical products used for insect control (pyrethrum, rotenone,  neem, and essential oils), along with three others in limited use (ryania, nicotine, and sabadilla). Additional plant extracts (garlic oil, Capsicum oleoresin) are seen in limited (low volume) regional use in various countries  (Sarwar and Sarwar, 2022). 

The botanical pesticides could be divided into two generations: the 1st generation includes nicotine,  rotenone, sabadilla, ryania, pyrethrum, and plant essential oils; while the 2nd generation comprises  synthetic pyrethroids and azadirachtin, as well as potential new botanicals as stated by Regnault-Roger et al. (2005) in the book: Biopesticides of plant origin. 

4.1. The first-Generation Botanical Pesticides

The first-generation pesticides are organic compounds  known as botanicals primarily used during the prior  times. 

4.1.1. Pyrethrum 

Pyrethrum is the powdered, dried flower head of the  pyrethrum daisy, Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium  (Asteraceae). The flowers are ground to a powder and  then extracted with hexane or a similar nonpolar solvent;  and removal of the solvent yields an orange-colored  liquid that contains the active principles (Glynne-Jones,  2001). These are three esters of chrysanthemic acid and  three esters of pyrethric acid. Among the six esters, those  incorporating the alcohol pyrethrolone, namely pyrethrins I, and II, are the most abundant and account  for most of the pesticidal activity. The modern synthetic  pyrethroids bear a little structural resemblance to the  natural pyrethrins and their molecular mechanism of  action differs as well.  

The insecticidal action of the pyrethrins is characterized  by a rapid knockdown effect, particularly in flying insects,  and hyperactivity and convulsions in most insects. These  symptoms are a result of the neurotoxic action of the  pyrethrins, which block voltage-gated sodium channels in  nerve axons. Pyrethrins exert their toxic effects by  disrupting the sodium and potassium ion exchange  process in insect nerve fibers and interrupting the normal  transmission of nerve impulses.

Pyrethrins insecticides  are extremely fast acting and cause an immediate  “knockdown” paralysis in insects. Despite of their rapid  toxic action, however, many insects are able to  metabolize (break down) pyrethrins quickly. After a brief  period of paralysis, these insects may recover rather than  die. To prevent insects from metabolizing pyrethrins and recovering from poisoning, most products containing  pyrethrins also contain the synergist, piperonylbutoxide  (Rattan, 2010). 

4.1. 2. Nicotine 

An alkaloid nicotine obtained from the foliage of tobacco  plants (Nicotiana tabacum) and related species, has a  long history as an insecticide. Nicotine and two closely  related alkaloids, nornicotine and anabasine, are synaptic  poisons that mimic the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  As such, they cause symptoms of poisoning similar to  those seen with organophosphate and carbamate  insecticides (Regnault-Roger and Philogène, 2008). In  both insects and mammals, nicotine is an extremely fast acting nerve toxin.

It competes with acetylcholine, the major neurotransmitter, by bonding to acetylcholine receptors at nerve synapses and causing uncontrolled nerve firing. This disruption of normal nerve impulse activity results in rapid failure of those body systems that depend on nervous input for proper functioning. In insects, the action of nicotine is fairly selective and only certain types of insects are affected. 

4.1.3. Rotenone 

Rotenone is one of several is flavonoids produced in the  roots or rhizomes of tropical legumes, Derris,  Lonchocarpus and Tephrosia. Most rotenone used at  present comes from Lonchocarpus and is often called  cube root. Extraction of the root with organic solvents  yields resins containing as much as 45 % totalrotenoids.  Studies indicate that the major constituents are rotenone  (44 %) and deguelin (22 %) (Cabizza et al. 2004). 

Rotenone is a mitochondrial poison, which blocks the electron transport chain and prevents energy production  (Hollingworth et al. 1994). As a pesticide, it is considered a stomach poison because it must be ingested to be effective. Rotenone is a powerful inhibitor of cellular respiration, the process that converts nutrient compounds into energy at the cellular level. In insects rotenone exerts its toxic effects primarily on nerve and muscle cells, causing rapid cessation of feeding. Death occurs several hours to a few days after exposure. 

4.1.4. Sabadilla 

Sabadilla is a botanical pesticide obtained from the seeds  of the South American lily Schoenocaulon officinale. In  purity, the active principles, cevadine-type alkaloids,  which are remarkably similar to that of the pyrethrins,  despite their lack of structural similarity (Isman, 2006). In  insects, sabadilla’s toxic alkaloids affect nerve cell  membrane action, causing loss of nerve cell membrane  action, producing loss of nerve function, paralysis, and  death. Sabadilla kills insects of some species immediately, while others may survive in a state of paralysis for several  days before dying (Sarwar, 2021). 

4.1.5. Ryania 

Ryania is obtained by grinding the wood of the Caribbean  shrub Ryania speciosa (Flacourtiaceae). The powdered  wood contains < 1 % ryanodine, an alkaloid that  interferes with calcium release in muscle tissue. It is used  to a limited extent by organic apple growers for control  of the codling moth Cydia pomonella (Fig. 2). Ryania is a  slow-acting stomach poison. Although it does not  produce rapid knockdown paralysis,it does cause insects  to stop feeding soon after ingesting it (Weinzierl, 2000). 

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Fig. 2. Codling moth 

4.1.6. Plant Essential Oils 

Steam distillation of aromatic plants yields essential oils,  which are since long been used as fragrances and  flavorings in the perfume and food industries,  respectively, and more recently for aromatherapy and as  herbal medicines (Abd El-Aziz and El-Hawary, 1997;  Buckle, 2003). Plant essential oils are produced  commercially from several botanical sources, many of  which are members of the mint family (Lamiaceae). The  oils are generally composed of complex mixtures of  monoterpenes, biogenetically related phenols, and  sesquiterpenes.

Examples include 1,8-cineole, the major  constituent of oils from rosemary (Rosmari nusofficinale)  and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globus); eugenol from clove  oil (Syzygiuma romaticum); thymol from garden thyme  (Thymus vulgaris); and menthol from various species of  mint (Mentha species) (Isman, 2008). Interest in the oils  has been renewed with an emerging demonstration of  their fumigant and contact insecticidal activities to a wide  range of pests (Abdallah et al., 2004). The rapid action  against some pests is indicative of a neurotoxic mode of  action, and there is evidence interference with the  neuromodulator octopamine by some oils and with GABA-gated chloride channels by others (El-Hosary,  2011).  

As broad-spectrum pesticides, both pollinators and  natural enemies are vulnerable to poisoning by products  based on essential oils. On the other hand, plant oils have  harmless effects on predacious mites (Sarwar, 2017).  Contact and fumigant insecticidal actions of plant  essential oils have been well demonstrated against stored  product pests (Acanthoscelides obtectus). Knockdown  activity and lethal toxicity via contact has been  demonstrated in the American cockroach (Periplaneta  americana), the German cockroach (Blattella germanica),  and the housefly (Musca domestica) (Rice and Coats,  1994). 

Certain essential oil monoterpenes are competitive  inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase. The modes of action of  limonene and linalool in insects are not fully understood.  Limonene is thought to cause an increase in the  spontaneous activity of sensory nerves.

The central  nervous system may also be affected, resulting in  additional stimulation of motor nerves. Massive over  stimulation of motor nerves leads to rapid knockdown  paralysis. Constituents of essential oil like citronellal,  thymol, and α-terpineol are most effective as feeding  deterrents against tobacco cutworm (Fig. 3) Spodoptera  litura synergism, or additive effects of the combination of  monoterpenoids from essential oils are reported against  S. litura larvae (Hummelbrunner and Isman, 2001). 

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Fig. 3. Tobacco cutworm  

4.2. The Second-Generation Botanical Pesticides

The second-generation pesticides are largely include synthetic organic compounds against pests. 

4.2.1. Synthetic Pyrethroids 

The evolution of this class of compounds has since yielded a vast array of molecules, some with greater lipophilicity, extremely low water solubility, and considerable persistence because of the use of single or multiple halogen atoms. Synthetic pyrethroids are generally recognized as neurotoxicants that act directly on excitable membranes. These compounds induce intense repetitive activity in sense organs and in myelinated nerve fibers. In the lateral-line sense organ,  this repetitive activity increases with cooling, a  phenomenon that may be related to the negative temperature coefficient of toxicity of pyrethroids in  insects (Sarwar and Salman, 2015b).  

Pyrethroids are also known to cause prolongation of the sodium current together with repetitive activity in nerve fibers of invertebrates (Henk et al. 1982). It has been suggested that the sodium channel in the nerve membrane is the major target site of pyrethroids. Other results showed that these compounds modify sodium channel gating in a strikingly similar way and reduce the selective rate of closing of the activation gate. 

4.2.2. Neem Products (Azadirachtin) 

Two types of botanical pesticides can be obtained from  seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) (Meliaceae)  (Fig. 4). Neem oil, obtained by cold-pressing seeds, can be  effective against soft-bodied insects and mites (Sarwar,  2019b), but is also useful in the management of  phytopathogens. Apart from the physical effects of neem  oil on pests and fungi, disulfides in the oil likely contribute  to the bioactivity of this material (Dimetry, 2012).  

More highly valued than neem oil are medium polarity  extracts of the seed residue after removal of the oil, as  these extracts contain the complex triterpene  azadirachtin. Neem seeds actually contain more than a  dozen azadirachtin analogs, but the major form is  azadirachtin and the remaining minor analogs likely  contribute little to the overall efficacy of the extract. Seed  extracts include considerable quantities of other  triterpenoids, notably salannin, nimbin, and derivatives  thereof.

The role of these other natural substances has  been controversial, but most evidence points to  azadirachtin as the most important active principle  (Isman, 2002). Neem seeds typically contain 0.2–0.6 %  azadirachtin by weight, so solvent partitions or other  chemical processes are required to concentrate this  active ingredient to level 10–50 % seen in the technical  grade material used to produce their products (Sallena,  1989). 

Azadirachtin has two profound effects on insects. At the  physiological level, azadirachtin blocks the synthesis and  release of molting hormones (ecdysteroids) from the  prothoracic gland, leading to incomplete ecdysis in  immature insects. In adult female insects, a similar  mechanism of action leads to sterility. In addition,  azadirachtin is a potent antifeedant to many insects. 


Fig. 4. Azadirachta indica 

4.2.3.Melia Extracts 

The remarkable bioactivity of azadirachtin from the neem  tree (A. indica) led to the search for natural pesticides in  the most closely related genus, Melia. Seeds from the  chinaberry tree Melia azedarach (Fig. 5), contain a  number of triterpenoids, the meliacarpins that are similar  but not identical to the azadirachtins, and these also have  insect growth regulating bioactivities (Kraus, 2002). 

The M. azedarach growing in Argentina lacks meliatoxins,  but produces triterpenoids (most notably meliartenin)  that are strong feeding deterrents to insect pests and  could prove useful for pest management (Carpinella et  al., 2003). The Melia toosendan (Fig. 6), is a tree  considered by most taxonomists to be synonymous with  M. azedarach. An extract of its bark contains a number of  triterpenoids based on toosendanin, a substance  reported to be a stomach poison for chewing insects.  Later studies suggest that this substance acts primarily as  a feeding deterrent, but can also serve as a synergist for  conventional insecticides (Feng. et al., 1995). 

When M. toosendan came under scientific scrutiny, an  investigation of the east African Melia volkensii (Fig. 7)  demonstrated bioactivity in insects from seed extracts of  this species. The active principles in M. volkensii include  the triterpenoids alannin, also a major constituent of  neem seed extracts, and some novel triterpenoids such  as volkensin. Collectively these function as feeding  deterrents and stomach poisons with moderate efficacy  against chewing insects (Rembold and Mwangi, 2002). 

Neem products are complex mixtures of biologically  active materials, and in insects, neem is most active as a  feeding deterrent, but in various forms it also serves as a  repellent, growth regulator, oviposition (egg deposition)  suppressant, and sterilant, or toxin. As a growth  regulator, neem is thought to disrupt normal  development interfering with chitin synthesis (Salama  and Sharaby, 1988). 

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Fig. 5. Melia azedarach Fig.

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Fig. 6. Meliat oosendan 

image 33
Botanic Plant Resources as Insect Pests Administrator of Field Crops 28

Fig. 7. Melia volkensii 

4.3. Potential new Botanicals 

There are unlimited numbers of botanicals have potential  for future commercialization as a biorational alternative  to control the potential threat of insects in crops.  

4.3.1. Annonaceous acetogenins 

The acetogenin class of polyethers is found exclusively in  the Annonaceae family of plants. Annonaceous  acetogenins are an important group of long-chain fatty  acid derivatives found exclusively in the plant family  Annonaceae. Tetrahydrofuranoid acetogenins have been  found to have potent pesticidal and feeding deterrent activities against a diverse variety of pests such as  mosquito larvae, spider mites, aphids, Mexican bean  beetle, striped cucumber beetle, blowfly larvae and  nematodes.

A new acetogenin called ‘asimicin’ has been isolated and is typical of the subject class of useful compounds: A quantitative liquid  chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry method is established for the quality control of the annonaceous acetogenins in the extracts of the pawpaw tree Asimina btriloba (L.) Dunal (Annonaceae) (Fig. 8) (Gu et al. 1999). Novel member named asimicin Included within this class  of compounds has been isolated from the bark and seeds  of the pawpaw tree A. triloba

image 34
Botanic Plant Resources as Insect Pests Administrator of Field Crops 29

  8. Asimina triloba

Botanical pesticides have been traditionally prepared  from the seeds of tropical Annona species, members of  the custard apple family (Annonaceae). These include the  sweetsop (Annona squamosa) (Fig. 9) and soursop  (Annona muricata) (Fig. 10), which are important sources  of fruit juices. Detailed investigations in have led to the  isolation of a number of long-chain fatty acid derivatives,  termed acetogenins, responsible for insecticidal  bioactivity. The major acetogenin obtained from seeds of  A. squamosa is annonin I, or squamocin (Johnson et al. 2000). A simicint reduces the rate of oxygen consumption  by fourth instar Ostrinia nubilalisas measured with a  constant volume manometer. 

Fig. 9. Annona squamosa 

These compounds are slow-acting stomach poisons,  particularly effective against chewing insects such as  lepidopterans and the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) (Fig. 11) (Johnson et al.,  2000). 

image 32
Botanic Plant Resources as Insect Pests Administrator of Field Crops 30

Fig. 10. Annona muricata 

image 31
Botanic Plant Resources as Insect Pests Administrator of Field Crops 31

Fig. 11. Colorado 

potato beetle 

4.3.2. Polyesters of sugars 

There are polyesters of sugars which include sucrose and  sorbitol octanoates. The sugar or sucrose esters naturally  occurring in the foliage of wild tobacco (Nicotiana gossei)  (Fig. 12) are pesticidal to certain soft-bodied insects such  as whitefly and mites (Buta et al. 1993). The glandular  trichomes of wild tobacco contain complexes of either  glucose or sucrose esters (sometimes both).

These leaf  surface lipids have biological activity against insects and  microorganisms. This product is a contact pesticide that  kills small insects and mites through suffocation (by  blocking the spiracles) or disruption of cuticular waxes  and membranes in the integument leading to desiccation.

There are other polyesters of sugars and including  sorbitol octanoates. They are also isolated from the  poisonous hairs on the tobacco leaves which hitherto are  assumed to contain nicotine, a popular insecticide. When  insects are contaminated by rubbing, they cause death of  the insects by a dehydration process and rapidly degrade  to harmless sugars and fatty acids. These polyesters are  known to be effective against a variety of farm and  domestic insect pests and the deadly parasitic Varroa mite, which usually settles on the back of honey bees  (Sarwar, 2016b). 

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Botanic Plant Resources as Insect Pests Administrator of Field Crops 32

Fig. 12. Nicotiana gossei 

5. Botanicals Mode of Actions 

Knowing about the mode of action is integral to  improving the quality and sustainability of a product. For  understanding how pesticides work (their mode of  action), it is necessary to understand how the pests  targeted systems normally function. Another reason to  understand the modes of action of pesticides is to prevent the development of pesticide resistance in the  target pests.

Using pesticides with the same mode of  action contributes to this problem by killing the  susceptible pests and leaving only those with resistance  to the entire class of pesticides that work through similar mechanisms (Sarwar and Salman, 2015c; Sarwar, 2016c).  Botanical pesticides can be grouped according to their  mode of action or the way a pesticide destroys or controls  the target pest. This is also referred to as the primary site  of action. For example, one insecticide may affect insect  nerves, while another may affect molting (El-Wakeil,  2013). There are many modes of actions for various  botanical pesticides as shown in Table 3. 

6. Biotechnology for Natural Product Synthesis 

Currently, there has been a growing interest in research  concerning the possible use of botanicals as alternatives  to synthetic insecticides. Many higher plants produce  economically important organic compounds such as oils,  resins, tannins, natural rubber, gums, waxes, dyes, flavors  and fragrances, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides. The  generation of mutants is a tool available for increasing of  natural product diversity.

Furthermore, global society is  demanding natural products and rejecting synthetic  chemicals for all possible uses including crop protection.  Although the search continues with increasing intensity,  finding new and more useful products would not have  matched the effort without the support of biotechnology.  Although the most powerful approach is genetic  

manipulation, other techniques such as mutagenesis,  breeding and protoplast fusion, and the relatively old biotechnology of plant tissue culture are very useful.  These also include even more simple approaches such as  optimizing culture conditions and the design of fermenters.

The combination of technologies together  with innovative ideas has already increased the production level of already existing natural products and  expanded the diversity of products obtainable from  biological sources (Hettiarachi, 2011; Roohi et al. 2019;  Noreen et al. 2021). Therefore, there is a need for more  intensive research on optimizing the production of  already identified bioproducts, with simultaneous  research efforts on new product formation.  

Table 3. Mechanism of action by plant-origin pesticides 

Insect system Mechanism of action Compound Plant source
Cholinergic system Inhibition of acetylecholinestrase (AChE)Essential oils Azadirachtin indica, Mentha spp.,  Lavendula spp.
Cholinergic acetylcholine nicotinic  receptor agonist/ antagonistNicotine Nicotiana spp., Haloxylonsa  licornicum, Stemona japonicum
Gamma-aminobutyric acid  (GABA) systemGABA-gated chloride channel Thymolsil phinenes Thymus vulgaris
Mitochondrial system Sodium and potassium ion  exchange disruptionPyrethrin Crysanthemum cinerariaefolium
Inhibitor of cellular respiration  (mitochondrial complex I electron  transport inhibitor (METI)Rotenone Lonchocarpus spp.
Affect calcium channels Ryanodine Ryania spp.
Affect nerve cell membrane action Sabadilla Schoenocaulon officinale
Octopaminergic system Octopaminergic receptors Essential oils Cedrus spp., Pinus spp., Citronella spp., Eucalyptus spp.
Block octopamine receptors by  working through tyramine  receptors cascadeThymol Thymus vulgaris
Miscellaneous Hormonal balance disruption Azadirachtin Azadirachtin indica

Obviously, these results have equally established that plants belonging to certain families of vegetation are more likely to possess pesticidal activity. Thus, these  upshots will serve as useful guides in the collection of  plants for laboratory research studies and field trials. 


The insecticides of plant origin could be exploited for the  development of novel molecules with highly precise  targets for sustainable insect pest management.  Different types of plant preparations such as powders,  solvent extracts, essential oils, and whole plants have  been reported for their insecticidal activity against insect  pests including their actions as fumigants, repellents,  anti-fee dents, and insect growth regulators.

Finally, it  came to know through this chapter the identification of  the botanicals, their corresponding plant, their parts  used, and targeted pest. From the assignment, we can  easily say that many field crops can be controlled from  the potential threat of insects through the use of  botanicals, and the use of botanicals is important and  effective indeed. 

Some newer plant-derived products and their application  technologies deserve proper attention for use in the  control of infestations of food commodities infested by  different species of insect pests. Botanical pesticides  (essential oils, flavonoids, alkaloids, glycosides, esters,  and fatty acids) have various chemical properties and  modes of action and affect insects in different ways  namely; repellents, feeding deterrents, antifeedants,  toxicants, growth retardants, chemosterilants, and  attractants. 

The conclusion can also be drawn that the botanical  mixtures could form the basis for a successful formulation  and commercialization of bio-pesticides in developing  countries, where low agriculture inputs are in vogue. In  several countries, such plants are readily available in the  local markets all around for farmer’s use to protect their  crops. Since the materials are used in ethnobotany for the  treatment of various ailments, they are safe, cheap, easily  biodegradable, and technologically and environmentally  friendly.

They could provide valuable alternatives to  synthetic insecticides in the management of insect pests  of field crops in limited resource farmer’s farms. Further  studies are required to ascertain their optimum mixture  levels and spraying schedules for optimum crop yield.  Although the search continues with increasing intensity,  finding new and more useful products would not be  possible without the support of biotechnology. 


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